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

Discussion in 'The Brigade of Guards' started by dbf, Sep 3, 2010.

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    TNA Catalogue Reference: WO 167/701
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    1939 September 1
    Z Pirbright Camp
    Mobilisation ordered.
    Reinforcements begin to arrive.
    Companies move to billets as follows:-
    No. 2 Company - STONEY CASTLE CAMP
    No. 3 Company - PIRBRIGHT LODGE
    No. 4 Company - STONEY CASTLE CAMP
    Battalion H.Q. and H.Q. Company - PIRBRIGHT CAMP
    M.T. and Carrier Platoons in tents at CURZON BR.

    1939 September 2
    Z +1 Pirbright Camp
    Mobilisation proceeds in accordance with Mob. Scheme.

    1939 September 3
    Z + 2 Pirbright Camp
    Mobilisation proceeds.
    War declared on GERMANY.
    Battalion Personnel completed.

    1939 September 4
    Z + 3 Pirbright Camp
    Divisional Commander Major-General B.L. MONTGOMERY inspects Battalion by Companies.
    Impressed vehicles drawn from Ordnance Depot at GUILDFORD.

    1939 September 5
    Z + 4 Pirbright Camp
    Mobilisation proceeds.
    Companies carry out individual and Platoon Training.

    1939 September 6
    Z + 5 Pirbright Camp
    Mobilisation proceeds.

    1939 September 7
    Z + 6 Pirbright Camp
    Mobilisation proceeds.

    1939 September 8
    Z + 7 Pirbright Camp
    Mobilisation proceeds.

    1939 September 9
    Z + 8 Pirbright Camp
    Mobilisation proceeds.
    Large number of W.O.s and N.C.O.s promoted to complete Battalion to War Establishment.

    1939 September 10
    Z + 9 Pirbright Camp
    Advance Party under Lieutenant J. TROTTER of 23 O.R.s proceeds to SHERBORNE in DORSET to take over Billets.

    1939 September 11
    Z + 10 Pirbright Camp
    Mobilisation and Training proceed.
    Considerable Ordnance Equipment still deficient.

    1939 September 12
    Z + 11 Pirbright Camp
    Battalion packs up at PIRBRIGHT.
    H.M. the KING visits Battalion at PIRBRIGHT CAMP in Billets

    1939 September 13
    Z + 12 Sherborne Battalion moves to SHERBORNE by road and rail.
    Trains arrive at 1215 hours and 1430 hours.
    Road Party arrives at 1500 hours.
    The move was accomplished without incident.
    The Billets were good.

    1939 September 14
    Companies train independently.

    1939 September 15
    Companies train independently.

    1939 September 16
    Companies train independently.

    1939 September 17
    Divisional Training Scheme in Defence.
    Battalion marches for SHERBORNE and billets for night at MAIDEN NEWTON.

    1939 September 18
    Maiden Newton
    In the evening the Battalion moves up to take over entrenched position from ROYAL ULSTER RIFLES.

    1939 September 19
    Maiden Newton
    Battalion holds defensive position digging at night.

    1939 September 20
    Battalion leaves position at 1800 hours and returns to SHERBORNE arriving at 0100 hours 21st September.

    1939 September 21
    Overseas Advance Party leaves.
    Lieutenant R.C.R.M. CLARKE, P.S.M. BRAGG and one driver and one 8cwt Truck.

    1939 September 22
    Company Training. M.T. packed with war loads.

    1939 September 23
    M.T. leaves for OVERSEAS.
    Carrier Platoon accompanies Officers - Lieutenant R.H. BROMLEY and Lieutenant The Viscount ANSON.
    M.T. proceeds to PLYMOUTH. Port of Embarkation.

    1939 September 24
    Church Parade in SHERBORNE ABBEY.

    1939 September 25
    Company Training.

    1939 September 26
    Company Training.

    1939 September 27
    Company Training.

    1939 September 28
    Battalion packs up.
    Battalion Drill Parade on School Field.

    1939 September 29
    Battalion leaves SHERBORNE in two trains for SOUTHAMPTON, last train arriving at 1500 hours.
    Battalion embarks on s.s. VIKING.
    Ship leaves docks at 1600 hours and anchors off PORTSMOUTH till 0045 hours on September 30th.
    List of equipment deficient attached. [Note: ?weeded]

    1939 September 30
    Calm crossing executed by British and French destroyers.
    Battalion arrives CHERBOURG at 0830 hours, disembarks at 0900 hours and proceeds to visit Billet for day in town.
    Sanitary H.Q. - a very smelly place.
    Marches to SAN MARITIME at 1700 hours to entrain.
    Train leaves at 2?25 hours.
    Halts at CAEN and ALENCON.
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    1939 October 1
    Battalion arrives SILLE LE GUILLAUME at 0730 hours.
    Marches and arrives CONLIE at 1230 hours.
    Carrier Platoon arrives 1030 hours.

    1939 October 2
    M.T. arrives at 1600 hours.
    Leaving travelled via BREST.

    1939 October 3
    Company Training.

    1939 October 4
    0930 - 1400 hours
    T.E.W.T. under Major COLVIN.
    Battalion in Defence.
    1100 hours Commanding Officer and Adjutant attend Divisional Conference at EVRON re move to Northern FRANCE.

    1939 October 5
    1400 hours Commanding Officer attends Conference at Brigade H.Q.
    1515 hours Move Order No. 1 issued for Move to Concentration Area.

    1939 October 6
    Company Training.
    1715 hours Officers versus Serjeants at Football. Serjeants win 5-3.

    1939 October 7
    1400 hours Commanding Officer and Lieutenant E???? leave for Tactical Recce of LILLE position.
    1800 hours Move Order No. 2 issued for Move to Concentration Area.

    1939 October 8
    1430 hours H.Q. Company, 1st Reinforcements, No. 3 Company leave by March Route for SILLE LE GUILLAUME (11 kms).
    1730 hours No.s 1, 2 and 4 Companies leave by March Route for SILLE LE GUILLAUME.
    2000 hours Sille le Guillaume 1st Train Party leaves SILLE LE GUILLAUME Station, Route ROUEN, ARRAS.

    1939 October 9
    0019 hours Sille le Guillaume 2nd Train Party leaves SILLE LE GUILLAUME Station, Route ROUEN, ARRAS.
    1045 hours Les Quin 1st Train Party arrives LES QUIN (near LILLE).
    Detachment marches to billets in FAUBOURG des POSTES, arriving 1815 hours.
    2045 hours Les Quin 2nd Train Party arrives LES QUIN.
    1010 hours Lille (Faubourg des Postes) M.T. arrives, having come from CONLIE by road.
    The Billets are in a slum area, and are crowded.
    Appendix F. File of Move Orders.

    1939 October 10
    1006 hours Carrier Platoon arrives LES QUIN Station, having moved from CONLIE by rail.
    0815 hours Commanding Officer attends Brigade Conference and spends all day reconnoitring defensive position to be taken over from FRENCH.

    1939 October 11
    Commanding Officer and Company Commanders spend day reconnoitring position.
    Warning Order issued.
    7th GUARDS BRIGADE O.O. 4 received.

    1939 October 12
    0645 hours Operation Order No. 1 for occupation of defensive position issued.
    Relief of 201 Reg. I FRENCH ARMY in Battalion Sector completed.
    Four Block-houses occupied and outpost Platoon stationed at SAILLY LEZ LANNOY.

    1939 October 13
    0815 hours
    Battalion leaves FAUBOURG des POSTES by March Route for HEM (11 miles), arriving midday.
    Battalion takes over billets in HEM.
    Operation Instruction No. 1 received from 7th GUARDS BRIGADE.

    1939 October 14
    Further reconnaissance of line.
    DUKE of GLOUCESTER visits Battalion.
    Security Instruction No. 1 received from 7th GUARDS BRIGADE.

    1939 October 15
    Trenches pegged out and traced with tape.
    2/Lieutenant HEPPEL, ROYAL ENGINEERS, assists.

    1939 October 16
    0830 hours Hem
    Work on position begun, Battalion working seven hours a day.

    1939 October 17
    Work on position continues.
    No. 4 Company on right dig trenches.
    River MARQ provides Anti-Tank obstacle.
    No. 3 Company in centre, trenches and breastwork - Anti-Tank obstacle - ditches improvised by FRENCH.
    ROYAL ENGINEERS and Railway along front.
    No. 2 Company on left dig trenches, Anti-Tank obstacle - Railway embankment.
    No. 1 (reserve) Company assists No. 3 Company.
    H.Q. Company assists No. 2 Company.
    Whole frontage about 2,600 yards.

    1939 October 18
    Work on position continues. O.I. No. 2, 7th GUARDS BRIGADE, issued and received.
    1115 hours - 1215 hoursFirst Air Raid Warning in FRANCE.
    Battalion P.A.D. Instructions, Appendix D.

    1939 October 19
    Pouring rain.
    Digging continues in rain.
    Drainage of trenches in low lying clay soil a great problem.
    Orders for Pill Box Garrisons.
    1400 hours Brigadier holds Conference at Battalion H.Q. Warning Order issued verbally re possible move forward to River SCHELDT, in certain eventualities.

    1939 October 20
    Rain continues.
    Work on position is carried out under difficult conditions.
    Shortage of revetting material delays work.

    1939 October 21
    Battalion spends morning on drill and interior economy.
    Fifty O.R.s allowed into LILLE in afternoon.

    1939 October 22
    Church Parade in morning.
    Concert in evening in village Cinema.
    No work on position.
    Fifty O.R.s visit LILLE.
    Sketch of position attached. Appendix “I”.

    1939 October 23
    Work on position continues.
    Drainage of position becoming more and more difficult owing to continual rain.
    ROYAL ENGINEERS material is almost unobtainable and attempts are being made to revett with hurdles made by the troops.
    The making of hurdles is difficult owing to lack of suitable wood.

    1939 October 24
    Work on position continues.
    Warning Order received that position must be occupied on Monday, 30th October, 1939, for practice Exercise.
    “B” Echelon is still at FAUBOURG des DOUAI, just outside LILLE. They are billeted in a girl’s school with Brigade H.Q.
    2045 hours Staff Captain arrives with 40 (approximately) pairs of waders.

    1939 October 25
    Rain still continues.
    Brigadier gives authority for local purchase of ROYAL ENGINEERS material to make Shelters.
    Corrugated iron difficult to find owing to widespread requisitioning by FRENCH ARMY.

    1939 October 26
    Work on position continues.
    500 sheets corrugated iron have been bought.
    Weather getting colder and rain continues.
    Brigade Order and Division Entrainment Table for move from SHERBORNE, ENGLAND, to Port of Embarkation, Appendix “J”.
    Battalion Order for Move Appendix “K”. These should have been included in September War Diary.

    1939 October 27
    Work on position continues.

    1939 October 28
    Work on position continues in morning.
    No work in afternoon.
    First task in all Fire Bays completed as also considerable lengths of communication trench.
    Trench shelters completed.
    No. 3 Company has had to construct two unusual breastworks.
    Fire must be brought to bear to cover front of Pill Box and Anti-Tank obstacle.
    The Anti-Tank obstacle in this Sector is a revetted bank on near side of river, 6 feet high.
    A breastwork had therefore to be constructed eight feet high which would allow defenders to see over obstacle.
    Sketch of breastwork is attached Appendix “L”.

    1939 October 29
    Sunday. Church Parade in morning.
    Football match versus 1st Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS in the afternoon. Score 3 all.

    1939 October 30
    3rd DIVISION Defensive Exercise begins.
    Object to test time required to occupy prepared position and to practice units in trench routine.
    Copy of Instructions is attached as Appendix “M”.

    1939 October 31
    Line is occupied by 2359 hours 30th October and is held until 0630 hours 1st November 1939.
    Work continues by night, exposure being forbidden by daylight owing to supposed enemy action.
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    1939 November 1
    0630 hours Phase II Manning Exercise ends. Companies leave trenches and spend day in billets.
    2115 hours Companies parade in billets and march out to trenches to work under peace conditions by night.

    1939 November 2
    0500 hours Work ends.
    1115 hours Air Raid warning.
    Shortly after a German Aeroplane chased by fighters was seen.
    The Fighters dived clear and Anti-Aircraft Battery round LILLE engaged aircraft.
    It was later found that two German aircraft were brought down in the area during the day.
    These were the first shots fired in anger seen by the Battalion.
    2200 hours No.s 2 and 4 Companies occupy the position preparatory to relief by No.s 1 and 3 Companies respectively.

    1939 November 3
    Relief takes place at 1400 hours 3rd November 1939.
    Exercise ends 0300 hours.
    Remainder of day spent in rest. Commanding Officer attends Brigade Conference.

    1939 November 4
    Hem Drill and cleaning in morning.
    No work in afternoon.
    Cinema performance arranged by Battalion takes place in H.Q. Billet in evening.
    Commanding Officer and Intelligence Officer attend practice shoot of Anti-Tank Guns and Bren Guns from Pill Box in 1st Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS area.
    Appendix “N” - File of Instruments and Orders issued in connection with Manning Exercise.

    1939 November 5
    Church Parade in morning.
    Major ADAIR and 2 Officers of 3rd Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS visit Battalion.

    1939 November 6
    1030 hours Orders received that passages through F.D.L.s in Battalion Sector are to be closed except one at EAST HAM Pill Box, where Cartes d’Identite are to examined.
    Roads, etc, closed in accordance with orders.
    This caused great confusion as large proportion of people who work in HEM live close to the frontier or in BELGIUM.
    1800 hours Also many people have not yet been issued with Cartes d’Identite.

    1939 November 7
    The order re closing of the roads was modified and 4 days grace to get passes was given.
    Work on position continues.

    1939 November 8
    Drums prepare to go to PARIS for Armistice Day with Drums of 1st Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS and Guard of Honour of 1st Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS.
    Battle Dress was issued to them.
    Work on position continues.

    1939 November 9
    Drums go to PARIS with 1st Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS Guards of Honour under Major C.E. IRBY, M.C.

    1939 November 10
    Work on position continues. ROYAL ENGINEERS material - sandbags, concrete, X.P.M., corrugated iron - now becoming available in small quantities.

    1939 November 11
    In view of situation, leave outside DIVISIONAL area cancelled.
    Drill and interior economy carried out in morning.
    Major COLVIN organised programme of English Films for Saturday and Sunday evenings.
    Outline plan for move to River ESCAUT or occupation of defensive position received from Brigade H.Q.
    1100 hours Commanding Officer accompanied by Adjutant and Padre lays wreath on French WAR MEMORIAL and British Tombs in HEM cemetery.

    1939 November 12
    1530 hours Mr. Anthony EDEN, M.P., and Dominion Ministers visit trenches dug by Battalion.
    2100 hours Hem Battalion put at 4 hours notice in view of situation.

    1939 November 13
    Hem Battalion packs trucks in morning and rests. Work continues in afternoon.
    1200 hours Commanding Officer attends Conference at Brigade H.Q.
    1400 hours Conference of Company Commanders to give out detail of plan for move to SCHELDT.

    1939 November 14
    Work continues.
    DUKE of GLOUCESTER visits Battalion and lunches in Mess.
    Lieutenant W.H. KINGSMILL is posted to H.Q. Company as Intelligence Officer and Lieutenant Sir A.L. GRANT, Bt. is transferred to No. 4 Company from No. 1 Company.

    1939 November 15
    Work on the position continues.
    845 hours O.O. No. 5, 7th GUARDS BRIGADE received giving anticipatory orders for move to River ESCAUT.
    1400 hours 2nd Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS O.O. No. 2 issued to certain addresses only. Appendix “O”.

    1939 November 16
    1600 hours Message received cancelling 4 hours notice and allowing leave to LILLE.
    Work on position continues.

    1939 November 17
    Work on position continues.

    1939 November 18
    Work on position continues in morning only.

    1939 November 19
    Football Match versus Town of HEM played on partially submerged field Battalion won 5 goals to 3.

    1939 November 20
    Work on position continues.
    A.D.M.S. visits Battalion.

    1939 November 21
    Work on position continues.

    1939 November 22
    Work on position continues.
    A Range has been made in Brickyard where Companies can fire Rifle, Bren and Anti-Tank Rifle.

    1939 November 23
    Work on position continues.

    1939 November 24
    Work on position continues.

    1939 November 25
    Work on position continues.
    Heavy rain in past week has caused much damaged to trenches.

    1939 November 26
    Church Parade in morning.
    Football versus 3rd Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS in afternoon at BACHY.

    1939 November 27
    Work on position continues.

    Cadre Courses in Musketry and Gas have arranged for Company N.C.O.s as follows, all arrangements being made by Company:-
    6 - 11 November - No. 1 Company
    13 - 18 November - No. 3 Company
    18 - 25 November - No. 4 Company
    25 November - 2 December - No. 2 Company
    4 - 10 December - H.Q. Company
    While the Cadre lasts, the Company’s instructors are struck off Guards.

    1939 November 28
    Work on the position continues.
    Much damaged caused by rain to trenches.
    No. 1 Company carry out Route March of eight miles.

    1939 November 29
    Work on position continues.

    1939 November 30
    Work on position continues.
    Lieutenant CLIFFORD goes as Adjutant & QM to 2nd CORPS Driving School.
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    1939 December 1
    Work on the position continues.
    80 Other Ranks attend Concert at SECLIN.

    1939 December 2
    Drill and Interior economy in morning only.

    1939 December 3
    Church Parade in morning.
    First Round French Mission Football Cup in afternoon at Stadium Municipole at ROUBAIX v 1st Battalion COLDSTREAM GUARDS.
    Battalion lost 3-1.

    1939 December 4
    Work on the position continues.
    River MARCQ has overflowed its banks owing to continual rain.
    Orders for March Past on December 6th issued. Appendix “P”.

    1939 December 5
    Work on the position in the morning.
    Companies at Disposal of Company Commanders in afternoon.
    3 Officers and 66 Other Ranks attend Leslie Henson’s Concert at ROUBAIX.

    1939 December 6
    The Battalion marched past His Majesty the KING as part of the 7th GUARDS BRIGADE.
    Fine weather with clear blue sky and sun, continued with perfect working of all arrangements made the Parade a great success.

    1939 December 7
    Work on the position continues.

    1939 December 8
    Work on the position continued in morning.
    Work was cancelled in afternoon owing to heavy rain.
    Battalion H.Q. Exercise held in afternoon under Brigade to practice recce and rapid issue of orders when but little daylight is available.
    Mortar Platoon fires smoke.

    1939 December 9
    Drill and Interior Economy in morning.

    1939 December 10
    Church Parade.
    Football versus ROYAL SCOTS FUSILIERS in afternoon. Battalion lost 5-2.

    1939 December 11
    Work on position continues.
    The trenches had suffered much damage from the bad weather over the week-end.
    1530 hours In view of coming Exercise 2nd Battalion GLOUCESTER REGIMENT took all duties including Pillbox Guards and Outpost Platoon from 1530 hours.
    1700 hours Commanding Officer attended Conference at Brigade H.Q. on coming 3rd DIVISION Exercise at 1700 hours.

    1939 December 12
    1045 hours
    Operation Order issued for Scheme. Appendix “Q” giving complete list of Orders and instruction issued in connection with the Scheme.
    One Section of 4 Troop Carrying Company, ROYAL ARMY SERVICE CORPS, arrived in afternoon and was billeted for the night at HEM.
    Everything was packed on transport only, Billet Guards and 4 Officers being left.

    1939 December 13
    Battalion leave HEM at 0930 hours. Debusses ST. POL area 1500 hours.
    It was dark before Battalion had taken up position on Line of River CANCHE.

    1939 December 14
    Operations ceased at 0800 hours and day was spent in Billets.
    Recces were made during afternoon for attack in co-operation with Tanks to be made at Dawn on 15th December.

    1939 December 15
    Battalion was in reserve during Dawn attack.
    Night March showed need of Training.
    0845 hours Operations end.
    1015 hours Hem After Breakfasts Battalion embusses and reaches HEM by 1430 hours.

    1939 December 16
    Morning spent in Interior Economy.
    Hem Representative Party of Major R.B.R. COLVIN, Major H.D.W. PAKENHAM, Adjutant, Lieutenant C.E.H. VILLIERS with 20 Other Ranks attended parade at LESQUIN aerodrome in honour of Mr. CHAMBERLAIN the PRIME MINISTER.

    1939 December 17
    Church Parade.
    Very cold and frosty weather.
    Leave begins. First party leaves.

    1939 December 18 Hem Commanding Officer and Second-in-Command attend Brigade Tactical discussion.
    1939 December Work on the position. Large Fatigue Parties.

    1939 December 19 Hem Work on position. Fatigue Party of 60 - 100 have to be provided every day this week.

    1939 December 20 Hem Work on the position.
    1939 December Cold weather still continues.

    1939 December 21
    Work on the position.
    Commanding Officer and Second-in-Command attend Brigade Tactical discussion.

    1939 December 22
    Battalion Parade and Fatigue Parties.
    Demolition charges of Bridges over River MARCQ are removed and Guards at HEMPEMPONT Bridge and Factory (MULLATION - MEILLASOUX) dismount.

    1939 December 23
    Hem 23rd December, 1939 [< This was the entry for the day]

    1939 December 24
    Voluntary Church.
    Brigadier WHITAKER visits position and orders Guard of CAMDEN PILLBOX to dismount.
    Fog and heavy frost continues.

    1939 December 25
    Christmas Day. Usual Festivities. The decorations in Billets were excellent considering that everything was improvised.
    No. 3 Company was Duty Company and had Dinners on 26th December, 1939.

    1939 December 26
    0730 hours No. 2 Company supplemented by Headquarter Company leave HEM to mount Guard on Ammunition Dump at AUBIGNY till 28th December, 1939.
    1030 hours Guard mounted at AUBIGNY.

    1939 December 27
    All Officers attend 3 DIVISION Conference at SECLIN.
    Work on the position continues.
    Snow falling in evening.

    1939 December 28
    Work on the position continues.
    3rd DIVISION Commander (Major General MONTGOMERY) walks round line.
    Ammunition Guard at AUBIGNY dismounts.
    Mechanical Digger arrives in Sector for work on Anti-Tank ditch.

    1939 December 29
    Work on the position continues.
    Trans-obstacle wire begun.

    1939 December 30
    Work on the position continues in morning.

    1939 December 31
    Church Parade in morning.
    The State of the position is as follows:-
    Most Section Posts of Forward Companies are complete except that post of No. 4 Company on Right are behind the remainder.
    This Company has had to construct Breastworks which involve more labour than trenches.
    Certain buildings have been earmarked for loopholing but this is not possible until GERMANY invades BELGIUM.
    Reserve Company trenches (No. 1 Company) are partially completed.
    Protective wire has been erected on Left and Centre Forward Company Section (Numbers 2 and 3 Companies respectively) and some Dannert wire fences has been put up.
    No wire has yet been erected on No. 4 Company Front as River MARCQ forms natural obstacle.
    Large lengths of communication trench remain to be dug.
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    1940 January 1
    Work on the position continues.

    1940 January 2
    Work on the position continues.
    Three Officers attend Artillery demonstration of smoke barrage near ARRAS.
    All Officers attend lecture by Major BULL at H.Q. 7th GUARDS BRIGADE in evening.

    1940 January 3
    Work on the position continues.
    “B” Echelon also move - into LILLE.

    1940 January 4
    Work on position continues.

    1940 January 5
    Work on position continues.

    1940 January 6
    Work on position continues.
    Each Company carries out a 12 mile Route March during week, and Companies shoot Rifle, Bren Gun, and Anti-Tank Rifle on 50 yards Range.
    Fighting Patrols train under Company arrangements.
    Weather very cold and hard frost all week.
    Major COLVIN and servant and P.S.M. MILLER join 8th INFANTRY BRIGADE who move to take over Sector on SAAR Front.

    1940 January 7
    5 T.A. Officers arrive and are attached to Battalion till 12th January, 1940.
    Thaw begins.

    1940 January 8
    Work on the position continues.
    Weather remains milder.
    Two Officer and two Other Ranks 51st DIVISION arrive for attachment.

    1940 January 9
    Work on the position continues.
    Weather again becomes cold and frosty.

    1940 January 10
    Work on the position continues.

    1940 January 11
    Work on the position continues.
    Brigadier BROWNING, late Commanding Officer of the Battalion stays one night with Battalion.
    2 Other T.A. Officers and 7 Other Ranks arrive for attachment

    1940 January 12
    Work on the position continues.
    Brigade Signal Scheme takes place involving Battalion H.Q., Signal Platoon, and Company H.Q.s.

    1940 January 13
    Work on the position continues.
    Companies during the week have carried out Training similar to that described in entry of 6th January.
    Severe cold continues.
    1200 hours Warning received of possible GERMAN advance into BELGIUM.

    1940 January 14
    0900 hours Battalion put at 8 hours notice in view of threat to BELGIUM.
    Otherwise Routine continued normally.
    Leave to ENGLAND cancelled.

    1940 January 15
    1930 hours
    7th GUARDS BRIGADE Operation Order received for move into BELGIUM in event of German Advance.
    M.T.O. tries to obtain 6 trucks from A.F.W. to replace those unserviceable.
    Captain POTTER and 4 Serjeants join the Battalion from ENGLAND.
    Intense cold weather again.
    Battalion takes over Night Guards of ROYAL AIR FORCE Aerodrome at VENDEVILLE until 21st January.

    1940 January 16
    Work as usual.
    Battalion put at 12 hours notice

    1940 January 17
    Companies carry out Training or Route Marches.
    Weather too cold for working on position.

    1940 January 18
    Companies carry out Training or Route Marches.
    Lieutenant PIKE, relieving Adjutant, arrives.

    1940 January 19
    Route Marches and Training continues.
    Information received that 3rd DIVISION is to move.

    1940 January 20
    Training continues in morning.
    Captain STUCLEY and 4 Serjeants leave for Training Battalion.
    50 Other Ranks join Battalion from Reinforcements.
    Commanding Officer attends Conference at Brigade H.Q.
    Information received of probable move to Area COMINES - WERWICQ - SUD to replace 5th DIVISION.

    1940 January 21
    Commanding Officer and Major BUSHMAN recce COMINES - WEQICQ - SUD Area.
    Snow falls most of the day.

    1940 January 22
    Company Commanders recce new position.
    Companies train.

    1940 January 23
    Companies train.
    Weather is too cold for work on the position.

    1940 January 24
    Companies train.
    Weather remains cold.
    Company Commanders of 2nd Battalion CAMERONIANS visit Battalion with a view to taking over our position and Billets.

    1940 January 25
    Lieutenant PIKE takes over Adjutant from Captain W.R. de B. des VOEUX whose 3 year appointment expires.
    Some work carried out on the position.

    1940 January 26
    Companies train.
    Weather remains cold.

    1940 January 27
    Adjutant and R.S.M. of 2nd Battalion CAMERONIANS visit Battalion in view of the possible move.
    Companies train as weather conditions still too hard for any work on the position.

    1940 January 28
    Captain des VOEUX leaves the Battalion to take up a temporary staff appointment with 3rd DIVISION.
    Hail and rain during the day, followed by a considerable thaw.

    1940 January 29
    Thaw continues during the day.
    7th GUARDS BRIGADE Operation Instructions on the move to COMINES issued.
    Commanding Officer attends Conference at LA RECUEIL.
    Companies train.

    1940 January 30
    Owing to severe frost during the night, all works suspended.
    Companies spend day carrying out recreational training.
    Orders received state that projected move to COMINES cancelled.

    1940 January 31
    Companies train.
    In last two weeks all work on the position has been suspended owing to the severe weather.
    7th GUARDS BRIGADE Plan A.L. received and Standing Orders for defence in the event of an air landing issued.
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    1940 February 1
    Work on position continues.
    Weather improving, and slight thaw has set in.

    1940 February 2
    Work on the position continues.
    Thawing hard.

    1940 February 3
    Lieutenant-Colonel G.M. CORNISH, M.C. proceeded on leave to ENGLAND.
    Major R.B.R. COLVIN assumed command of the Battalion.
    Work on the position continues, as does the thaw.
    A party consisting of 2/Lieutenant J.A.P. JONES and 255 Other Ranks proceeded to ABLAIN ST. NAZAIRE to fire the Anti-Tank Rifle.

    1940 February 4
    The thaw has caused considerable flooding in the district, and the whole of the position is ankle deep in mud.
    Volunteers for the newly formed Ski Battalion were called for, the following names being submitted:-
    Captain N.D.M. JOHNSTONE
    Captain E.C. RUSSELL
    Captain G.E.W. POTTER and
    No. 2614524 Serjeant P. DOMEISEN

    1940 February 5
    Work on the position continues.
    Headquarter Company carries out a Signal Exercise under Major H.D.W. PAKENHAM.
    The Battalion takes over Night Guards at VENDEVILLE Aerodrome until 11th February, 1940.

    1940 February 6
    Work on the position continues.
    Severe flooding in No. 4 Company area.

    1940 February 7
    Work on the position continues.
    Major R.B.R. COLVIN attends a Conference at Brigade Headquarters.

    1940 February 8
    Work on the position continues.
    Thaw precautions were enforced from 0600 hours, and no vehicle about 15-cwt allowed on the road.
    This, combined with the 15% of transport off the road for maintenance purposes, made transport difficult to find for fatigues, rations etc.
    All telephone communications were stopped for the day.
    No. faults were found in the Fullerphone system, which worked excellently.

    1940 February 9
    Work on the position continues.
    No. 3 Company carried out a T.E.W.T. at SAILLY LES LANNOY under Major R.B.R. COLVIN.

    1940 February 10
    Work on the position continues.
    For the past week there have been 4 bulldozers, value about £16,000 working on the Anti-Tank obstacles and Breastworks in No.s 3 and 4 Company areas.
    There have also been 2 Dredgers cranes widening the ditches and tributaries of the River MARCQ in the same area.
    Very extensive floods, and the thaw has caused many of the trenches to fall in, and useful lessons in drainage of trenches are being learned.

    1940 February 11
    Slight frost has made movement about the position earlier.

    1940 February 12
    Severe frost has made work by the bulldozers impossible.
    Companies continued to work on the position.
    T.E.W.T. carried out by No. 4 Company at SAILLY LES LANNOY under Major R.B.R. COLVIN.

    1940 February 13
    Severe frost and snow make work on the position impossible.
    Companies carry out route marches.
    Weather extremely cold again.

    1940 February 14
    Very severe frost, and snow some 4 inches deep make all work impossible.
    Companies carry out recreational training.
    Snow falls all day.

    1940 February 15
    Lieutenant-Colonel G.M. CORNISH, M.C. resumed command of the Battalion on his return from leave in the UNITED KINGDOM.
    Major MILLER, 7th Battalion SURREY REGIMENT arrived at 0100 hours, to commence a short attachment to the Battalion.
    Companies carried out Drill and Recreational Training.
    Further snow falls.

    1940 February 16
    A Gas Chamber has been improvised in Pall Mall Pillbox, and two Companies respirators are tested.
    The weather is still too hard to prevent work on the position.

    1940 February 17
    Lieutenant Sir A.L. GRANT promoted to Acting rank of Captain.
    Vice Captain POTTER transferred to the 5th Battalion SCOTS GUARDS (Ski Battalion).
    All outdoor work postponed owing to very heavy snowfall.

    1940 February 18
    There is now deep snow lying everywhere.
    Companies play ice hockey in the afternoon.
    150 men are sent to LILLE for the International Association Football match.
    Some Officers from 7th GUARDS BRIGADE H.Q. and the Battalion now go to work on skis.

    1940 February 19
    A very rapid thaw has set in, and work on the position continues.
    Flooding in No. 4 Company position is imminent, and one Bulldozer is almost submerged in the River MARCQ.
    Major MILLER leaves the Battalion, after finishing his attachment.
    Lieutenant J.M.E. ASKEW arrives from No. 1 I.B.D.

    1940 February 20
    Work on the position continues.
    A performance given by the Mobile Cinema to the Battalion.

    1940 February 21
    A party of 8 Other Ranks from the Anti-Aircraft Platoon, with 3 instructors, and under the command of Captain R.C.R.M. CLARKE proceeded to DANNES Ranges, near LE TOUQUET, for firing at Balloons.
    Work on the position continues.

    1940 February 22
    3rd DIVISIONAL Intelligence Exercise commenced at 1100 hours.
    The Commanding Officer, Adjutant, and Intelligence Section took part.
    Battle Headquarters were used for the purpose of the scheme.
    Work on the position continues.
    Thaw precautions were brought into force.

    1940 February 23
    3rd DIVISIONAL Intelligence Exercise finished at 0700 hours.
    Work on the position continues.
    Battalion Mouth Organ Band gives a concert to the ROYAL AIR FORCE at VENDEVILLE Aerodrome.

    1940 February 24
    Work on the position continues.

    1940 February 25
    Severe flooding on the whole front, and the thaw has made work difficult on the position, and has caused a great deal of damage to the trenches.

    1940 February 26
    Work on the position continues.
    No. 1 Company carry out a T.E.W.T. under the Commanding Officer at SAILLY LES LANNOY.
    A new system of Frontier control commences.

    1940 February 27
    Work on the position continues.
    Reveille is put on to 0700 hours owing to summer time.

    1940 February 28
    Severe damage to the trenches necessitates emergency measures to restore them.
    All ranks and Companies work on No. 4 Company position.
    The new system of mixed Patrols and sentries on the Frontier with the DOUANIERS is working well.

    1940 February 29
    Work on the position continues.
    Thaw precautions cease.
  9. dbf

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    1940 March 1
    Work on the position continues, under favourable weather conditions.

    1940 March 2
    Work on the position continues.

    1940 March 3
    During the past week considerable improvements and extensions have been made with the aid of the Bulldozers.
    The Mobile Cinema visited the Battalion and gave an excellent performance.

    1940 March 4
    Work on the position continues.
    An R/T test was carried out from 1000 hours - 1100 hours with a view to practicing Officers in speech, giving and receiving messages prior to the 3rd DIVISION Exercise.
    The scheme was unsuccessful on the whole, as only one message was passed in the hour, and this was only received by this Battalion, interference being too bad, for the other two Battalions to hear anything.

    1940 March 5
    Work on the position continues.
    “B” Section No. 12 Troop Carrying Company, ROYAL ARMY SERVICE COMPANY arrive, prior to 3rd DIVISION Exercise.
    Battalion O.O. No. 1 in connection with this exercise was issued.

    1940 March 6
    Work on the position continued, being carried out by personnel proceeding on leave during 3rd DIVISION Exercise.
    Remainder of the Battalion engaged in packing transport and preparing for the night advance.
    Zero hour issued as 1530 hours.
    Column formed up at 2205 hours and passed the Battalion Starting Point at 2235 hours.

    1940 March 7
    Battalion H.Q. established in Mayor’s House at 0445 hours.
    Battalion remains in concealment area all day.
    Battalion O.O. No. 2 is issued for the move under error of darkness to OSTREVILLE.
    Battalion H.Q. closes at MARQUAY at 2100 hours, and reopens at OSTREVILLE at 2115 hours.

    1940 March 8
    Battalion remains concealed until the termination of the Exercise at 1400 hours.
    Verbal orders for the return journey are issued.
    Battalion embusses at 1640 hours.
    7th GUARDS BRIGADE column proceeds back to HEM, arriving at 2035 hours.
    “B” Echelon having returned at 1330 hours.
    All “A” Echelon vehicles travelled in Battalion Convoy under Lieutenant J. TROTTER, arriving in HEM at 2055 hours.
    Carriers travelled in Brigade Column under Captain BROMLEY, and arrived at 2020 hours.

    1940 March 9
    No work was carried out by personnel who attended the 3rd DIVISIONAL Exercise.
    Otherwise work on the position continues.

    1940 March 10
    During the absence of the Battalion on the 3rd DIVISIONAL Exercise, the Bulldozers have continued to work.
    In many cases however they have caused damage to the position by driving over drains and communication trenches, and and breaking the walls and breastworks.

    1940 March 11
    The DIVISIONAL Commander holds a Conference at 1100 hours in the SALEE des FETES, SECLIN, to discuss the Exercise.
    Battalion holds a Patrol scheme, as attached.
    Work on the position continues.
    Some 6-cwt of Propaganda Pamphlets found, and forwarded to Brigade H.Q.

    1940 March 12
    Work on the position continues, and night driving tests are carried out.

    1940 March 13
    Work on the position continues.

    1940 March 14
    Work on the position continues.

    1940 March 15
    Work on the position continues.
    The DIVISIONAL Commander and the Brigade Commander lunch with the Battalion, and afterwards inspect the “Telephone” system invented by Captain BROMLEY on the Carriers.
    “B” Section 12 Troop Carrying Company leave the Battalion

    1940 March 16
    Work on the position continues, and H.Q., No.s 1 and 3 Companies carry out Route Marches.
    54 men arrive from No. 1 I.B.D. to complete W E of 757.

    1940 March 17
    During the week great strides have been made with the work on the position.
    36 men of the Battalion proceeded to GALAMETZ Field Firing Range, and fired practice with ? sights, which proved of great value.

    1940 March 18
    Work on the position continues.
    It is found that the Bulldozer has done considerable damage to the sides of the Anti-Tank obstacle, which are being repaired.

    1940 March 19
    Work on the position continues.

    1940 March 20
    Work on the position continues.

    1940 March 21
    Work on the position continues.
    The Mobile Cinema visits the Battalion.

    1940 March 22
    Work on the position continues.

    1940 March 23
    Work on the position continues.

    1940 March 24
    The day observed as a holiday in the Division.
    As the weather improves the demand for ROYAL ENGINEERS Material for the position increases.
    Companies route March during the break.

    1940 March 25
    Work on the position continues.
    The Commanding Officer attends a Demolition demonstration under Brigadier WOOLMER, 8th INFANTRY BRIGADE.

    1940 March 26
    Work on the position continues.
    In the afternoon Companies fire rifle grenades.

    1940 March 27
    Work on the position continues.
    The Commanding Officer and Company Commanders attend a Brigade T.E.W.T.

    1940 March 28
    Work on the position continues.
    A practice of the Air Landing Scheme carried out, the code work being issued at 1900 hours.
    Exercise terminated at 2200 hours.

    1940 March 29
    Work on the position continues.
    Captain RUSSELL attached to II CORPS Junior Leaders School as an Instructor.

    1940 March 30
    Work on the position continues.
    Major-General H.R.H. the DUKE of GLOUCESTER pays an informal visit to the Battalion.

    1940 March 31
    Again during the week a great deal of improvement has been made in the position, the weather being ideal.
    Air Raid warning “RED” is issued at 2320 hours.
    No action taken other than warning Companies.
    No aeroplanes heard.
  10. dbf

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    1940 April 1
    Major-General H.R.H. the DUKE of GLOUCESTER visits the Battalion commencing an inspection of the position at 0930 hours.
    No. 2 Company are struck off all duties and fatigues for 1 week for night training.
    Work on the position continues.

    1940 April 2
    Work on the position continues.
    1 Officer and 5 Other Ranks per Company attend a lecture in LANNOY by Mr. BUTLER, on the duty and action of soldiers if taken prisoner.

    1940 April 3
    Work on the position continues.

    1940 April 4
    A Drill parade is carried out by all Companies with the exception of No. 2 Company.
    Work on the position continues from 1000 hours.

    1940 April 5
    Work on the position continues.

    1940 April 6
    Work on the position continues.

    1940 April 7
    During the week No. 2 Company carried out three night schemes.
    The weather was very wet, which curtailed their training.
    A revised Plan A.L. issued, as a result of defects discovered in the exercise.

    1940 April 8
    Work on the position continues.
    No. 3 Company are struck off all duties and fatigues for one week for night training.
    1st Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS is sent for 6 weeks approximately to work on a farm at LA RECUEIL, the owner having asked Brigade H.Q. for assistance.
    Captain BROMLEY is ordered to the UNITED KINGDOM to be an Instructor, A.F.V. School, BOVINGTON.

    1940 April 9
    Work on the position continues.

    1940 April 10
    Work on the position continues.
    A visual signal scheme is carried out under arrangements made by Brigade H.Q.

    1940 April 11
    Work on the position continues.
    Warning Order to be at 24 hours notice to move into BELGIUM is received at 1805 hours.
    The Commanding Officer attends a Conference at LA RECUEIL (Brigade H.Q.) at 2130 hours.

    1940 April 12
    Companies at Disposal of Company Commanders for training.
    “B” Echelon moves from LILLE to within the Billeting area.
    All replacement vehicles are collected to bring transport up to establishment.
    7th GUARDS BRIGADE Administrative Instruction No. 1 received.

    1940 April 13
    Brigade O.O. 14 received. Battalion O.O. No. 14 issued.
    Companies at the Disposal of Company Commanders for Training.
    Ten reinforcements arrive from the Base.

    1940 April 14
    Amendments No. 1 to 2nd Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS O.O. No. 14 issued.
    The state of tension continues and the Battalion is now at 12 hours notice to move.

    1940 April 15
    Amendment No. 2 to 2nd Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS O.O. 14 issued.
    The Battalion still at short notice to move.
    Work on the position continues.
    Lieutenant-Colonel J.A. LLOYD joined the Battalion from the UNITED KINGDOM.

    1940 April 16
    Work on the position continues.
    Battalion remains at short notice to move.

    1940 April 17
    Work on the position continues commencing at 0930 hours daily, owing to the Brigade being at short notice to move.
    All M.T. movement is restricted.
    2/Lieutenant J.D. AKERS joins the Battalion from No. 2 I.B.D.

    1940 April 18
    Companies carry out a short Drill Parade and then work on the position continues.
    The Mobile Cinema gives a performance for the Battalion.

    1940 April 19
    All Companies at the Disposal of Company Commanders for general swabbing, and training.
    Firing is carried out by No.s 2, 4 and H.Q. Companies on the BRICHEY Range.

    1940 April 20
    Lieutenant-Colonel G.M. CORNISH, M.C. relinquishes Command of the Battalion.
    Lieutenant-Colonel J.A. LLOYD assumes command.
    Work on the position continues.
    Battalion no longer on short notice to move.

    1940 April 21
    No.s 1 and 4 Companies are to be struck off work and fatigues for night training for two weeks.
    A Section Leaders Course is arranged to commence on 22nd April under Major R.B.R. COLVIN.

    1940 April 22
    Work on the position continues, while No.s 1 and 4 Companies train.
    The Commanding Officer attends a Conference at Brigade H.Q.
    It is likely that the Battalion will move to a new billeting area about 1 1/2 miles NORTH WEST of its present area.
    This is to permit the move up to the Frontier Line of the Division Mobile troops.
    Work will be continued on the Battalion position.

    1940 April 23
    Work on the position and training continues.
    A revised Plan A.L. issued, and an amendment to the Battalion Plan is printed as a result.
    A night drive is carried out by 41 vehicles of the Battalion.
    The block system of movement by M.T. is used.
    The move is well carried out.
    Movement ? and Instructions were issued.
    Billeting parties recce the new area.

    1940 April 24
    Work and training continues.
    Orders that the change of billeting areas is confirmed are received, the Battalion moving to its new area by 2359 hours on 26th April 1940.
    All training and work on the position is suspended.

    1940 April 25
    Companies at Disposal of Company Commanders for packing up and cleaning billets before handing over.
    The incoming unit, 2nd Battalion M [?MIDDLESEX REGIMENT] send recce parties.
    The new Battalion area continues to be recce’d for billeting.
    It appears probable that approximately 1 Platoon per Company will be under canvas.
    40 Bell tents have been issued.

    1940 April 26
    Companies move to new area, leaving small rear parties in HEM.
    2nd Battalion M talk over HEM billets tomorrow 27th April.
    Steady rain all day, makes tent accommodation almost intenable, there being not tent boards.

    1940 April 27
    1030 hours Battalion H.Q. closes down in HEM and moves to new location.
    Ch. Fontaine, Sheet 63 (768389)
    1845 hours Battalion H.Q. reopens in the Gymnasium of Ch. HANNART, Companies having settled in yesterday.
    2/Lieutenant O. BEVAN, C.H. MICKLEM, R.A. HORNBY and G.C. GREY arrive and are attached to the Battalion for 1 month, providing the posting of two of the above to the Battalion.

    1940 April 28
    Ch. Fontaine, Sheet 63 (768389)
    The move to CHATEAULAND was completed with considerable difficulty in respect of billeting the Battalion.
    Nearly all the houses in the area are occupied.
    There are therefore approximately 100 men under canvas.

    1940 April 29
    Ch. Fontaine, Sheet 63 (768389)
    Work on the position continues.

    1940 April 30
    Ch. Fontaine, Sheet 63 (768389)
    Work on the position continues.
    Another practice night drive is to be held tonight, and march table and instructions are issued.
  11. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    1940 May 1
    Ch. Fontaine, Croix
    During the first days of May, the Battalion was settling down in its new billeting area at CROIX.

    1940 May 6 - 8
    The Battalion night training was carried out during the week commencing 6th May, there being a scheme on the 6th and 8th May.

    1940 May 10
    On the invasion of the LOW COUNTRIES by GERMANY on the morning of 10th May, the Battalion was placed at short notice to move.
    7th GUARDS BRIGADE O.O. was received that evening to initiate the move forward into BELGIUM and a Battalion O.O. and move order were issued.
    All Battalion kit not required in battle was dumped in the Battalion area and a rear party of 20 specialists under 2/Lieutenant G.C. GREY were left behind.
    Owing to leave, the Battalion was not entirely up to establishment, being 2 Officers and approximately 26 Other Ranks deficient.
    The Officers present with the Battalion for the initial move were:-

    Commanding Officer - Lieutenant-Colonel J.A. LLOYD
    Second-in-Command - Major R.B.R. COLVIN
    Adjutant - Lieutenant G.E. PIKE
    H.Q. Company Commander - Major H.D.W. PAKENHAM
    Intelligence Officer - Captain W.H. KINGSMILL
    Motor Transport Officer - Lieutenant The Viscount ANSON
    Signals Officer - Lieutenant J. TROTTER
    Assistant Intelligence Officer - 2/Lieutenant the Honourable F.F.G. HENNESSY
    Quarter Master - Captain A. ASTON
    No. 1 Company - Captain N.D.M. JOHNSTONE
    No. 1 Company - 2/Lieutenant R.J.V. GOSS
    No. 1 Company - 2/Lieutenant G.D. MICKLEM
    No. 2 Company - Captain R.C.R.M. CLARKE
    No. 2 Company - Lieutenant I.J. CROSTHWAITE
    No. 2 Company - 2/Lieutenant R.A. HORNBY
    No. 3 Company - Captain Sir A. GRANT, Bt.
    No. 3 Company - Lieutenant C.E.H. VILLIERS
    No. 4 Company - Captain C.J.D. JEFFREYS, M.V.O.
    No. 4 Company - Captain E.C. RUSSELL
    No. 4 Company - 2/Lieutenant O.D. BEVAN
    No. 4 Company - 2/Lieutenant J.D. AKERS

    1830 hours The Commanding Officer held a final conference of Company Commanders and H.Q. Officers at 1830 hours on the 10th May, when the O.O.s were issued.
    The move forward to be carried out as follows:-
    Battalion H.Q. to lead the Battalion under command of Major Colvin.
    The Battalion to travel in Company blocks.
    The platoon truck in each case to immediately proceed the two troop carrying lorries holding the platoon.
    One Section of the Carrier Platoon to travel in front of the Battalion and one in rear.
    Halts to be made for 10 minutes at 10 minutes to every hour, when at least one Bren per Platoon would be mounted for Anti-Aircraft.
    The Commanding Officer and Captain KINGSMILL travelled in the Brigade recce group.
    The destination of the Battalion was now established at WOLUWE-STE-ETIENNE, a village about 4 miles EAST of BRUSSELS on the LOUVAIN road.

    1940 May 11
    700 hours The Battalion passed the Battalion Starting Point soon after 0700 hours and proceeded on the route through ROUBAIX to the Brigade Starting Point.
    Here a severe traffic jam held up the whole column for more than an hour.
    0900 hours The BELGIUM Frontier was eventually crossed at about 0900 hours and the column proceeded at a steady pace along the route (AUDENARDE-ALOST-VILVORDE-SAVENTHEN-WOLUWE-STE. ETIENNE)
    There were no interruptions to the journey until a message was received from the Commanding Officer that ALOST bridge was being severely bombed.
    Orders were issued to Company Commanders to the effect that all Transport would be rushed across the bridge if bombing was still in progress, and that the column would close up to proper distances 5 miles EAST of the bridge.
    The passage at ALOST did not, however, prove difficult.
    One bridge across the Canal had been hit and very considerable damaged caused to the town, the streets being nearly a foot deep in debris in places.
    The Battalion suffered no casualties.
    1700 hours WOLUWE-STE. ETIENNE was eventually reached at about 1700 hours without further incident.
    H.Q., 2, 3, and 4 Companies were billeted in a factory and No. 1 Company and the Carrier Platoon in the village itself.
    Slit trenches were dug and all transport concealed or camouflaged by dusk.
    During the evening incessant air raid alarms were heard and BRUSSELS and the aerodrome to the NORTH were repeatedly bombed.
    It was noticed that the GERMANS were using bombs which did not explode on percussion.
    At first it was though that these were duds, but later discovered that they were time bombs which, in some cases, did not explode for nearly 1 week.
    During the evening the stream of refugees proceeding to BRUSSELS was greatly augmented by columns of retreating BELGIAN soldiers.
    By darkness the road was so congested that any movement towards the front would have been extremely difficult.

    1940 May 12
    0700 hours Orders were received that a Commanding Officers’ Conference was to be held at 0700 hours at Brigade H.Q. in SAVENTHEM, and that the Battalion was to be at 15 minutes notice to move from 0800 hours.
    0815 hours The Commanding Officer returned from Brigade H.Q. at about 0815 hours and gave out verbal orders for the move as follows:-
    Little was known of the enemy though it appeared that he was steadily pushing in the BELGIAN resistance EAST of LOUVAIN.
    7th GUARDS BRIGADE was to move forward to hold the line of the railway and the canal to the NORTH of LOUVAIN with 9th INFANTRY BRIGADE right and the BELGIANS (SOIXIEME REGIMENT DE CHASSEURS) on the left.
    2nd Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS were to support 1st Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS with 1st Battalion COLDSTREAM GUARDS in reserve.
    Rough locations were given from the map, with a Battalion area about WINXELE.
    The Commanding Officer, Company Commanders and the Intelligence Officer went forward by Motor Transport to carry out recce of the area.
    0920 hours The Battalion under command of Major R.B.R. COLVIN left its lying up area at 0920 hours.
    Considerable difficulty was experienced in getting out the “A” Echelon vehicles owing to the refugees and the retreating BELGIAN soldiers.
    Panic was now running so high that the people refused to be stopped by the Regimental Police, and, in some cases, had to be pushed aside by the mudguards of the vehicles themselves before a passage could be gained.
    Owing to this 1st Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS were nearly an hour late, reaching the main road, thus holding up the 2nd Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS advance.
    1015 hours At about 1015 hours the Battalion proceeded by March Route, sections marching in file on either side of the road, and “A” Echelon vehicles travelling with Companies.
    “B” Echelon remained at WOLUWE before proceeding to a Brigade concentration area under command B.T.O.
    There were no incidents during the march.
    1445 hours - 1700 hours WINXELE was reached about 1445 hours and the Battalion was in position by 1700 hours.
    1730 hours Battalion H.Q. was established in a farmhouse by about 1730 hours.
    Company dispositions were roughly as follows:-
    Forward Companies Right No. 3 Company About ROELLE COURT
    Centre No. 1 Company
    Left No. 2 Company about HERENT LEVEL CROSSING
    Reserve No. 4 Company Forward of Battalion H.Q.
    Companies dug in during the evening and slit trenches were made around Battalion H.Q.

    1940 May 13
    The night passed without incident, though in the morning it was found that 5th Columnists had marked all H.Q. by arrows painted on the ground or stuck to boards.
    Commanding Officer attended a conference and Company and Battalion positions were changed during the day, 1st Battalion COLDSTREAM GUARDS being moved up to hold the line about HERENT on the left of 1st Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS.

    The Battalion therefore came into reserve and was to take up an all-round defensive position with the special task of watching the northern flank, dispositions being altered as follows:-
    No. 3 Company - Remained on the right.
    No. 2 Company - Moved forward and took over one BELGIAN pill-box EAST OF road HERENT-LOUVAIN on the line of the railway.
    No. 1 Company - Moved to a position on the crest of the hill in front of Brigade H.Q.
    No. 4 Company - Moved back bout 1 1/2 miles to an area NORTH edge of WINXELE facing NORTH.

    There was some aerial activity by the enemy during the day, though there was no serious bombing.
    Several delayed-action bombs were dropped on the Battalion Sector.
    Information was received Division Cavalry then holding the line some 5 miles EAST of LOUVAIN were to withdraw at 1500 hours.
    During the night there was considerable activity by our Medium ARTILLERY.

    1940 May 14
    The night passed without incident.
    0930 hours At about 0930 hours No. 2 Company were severely bombed by enemy aircraft, further bombing raids being carried out over the whole Battalion area.
    Many time bombs were dropped.
    Contact was gained with the enemy on the line of the canal during the morning and there was considerable small arms fire on the whole front.
    There was frequent shelling of the area and particularly of the Battalion H.Q. which was twice heavily shelled for about 20 minutes.
    The battle continued during the night, though none of the Battalion were in action.
    Major COLVIN and 2/Lieutenant the Honourable F.F.G. HENNESSY returned to “B” Echelon but were recalled to the Battalion within 12 hours.

    1940 May 15
    Very considerable Artillery activity by both sides during the early morning, and information received that a further enemy attack was expected.
    Divisional Commander and Brigade Commander visited Battalion H.Q. in the morning and it was decided to bring up No. 4 Company to MONT CESAR to support the ROYAL ULSTER RIFLES on the right of the Brigade Sector in LOUVAIN, and to deny the high ground to the WEST of the town to the enemy.
    Later in the day No. 3 Company were moved towards the right, as information was received that the ROYAL ULSTER RIFLES were again hard-pressed in LOUVAIN and had suffered considerable casualties.
    Shelling of the whole Battalion area continued all day, and Battalion H.Q. was heavily shelled at frequent intervals.
    No. 2 Company’s Pill-box was hit six times by what appeared to be either a field-gun firing solid shells, or an anti-tank gun.
    There were no casualties, though the percussion inside the Pill-box was very considerable.
    Again no Company was actually in action against the enemy.

    1940 May 16
    During the early morning Battalion H.Q. was sniped by 5th Columnists or Parachute troops.
    Heavy shelling of Battalion H.Q. continued from first light.
    The Commanding Officer accompanied the Brigade Commander to a Conference in LOUVAIN at which Companies 1st Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS, 1st Battalion COLDSTREAM GUARDS and ROYAL ULSTER RIFLES were present.
    At this Conference the relief of the forward Battalions was discussed and it was eventually decided that the Battalion would relieve 1st Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS that night, also taking over one Company locality of the ROYAL ULSTER RIFLES.
    A recce of Company Commanders was ordered to meet the Commanding Officer at H.Q., 1st Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS at 1600 hours.
    This was cancelled immediately and a message was received from Brigade to say that the relief by the Battalion of the 1st Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS would not now take place.
    At about 1630 hours the Commanding Officer was called to Brigade H.Q. to assume temporary command of the Brigade while the Brigade Commander was at a Conference.
    A message was received from the Commanding Officer ordering a Conference of Company Commanders at 1900 hours.
    At this Conference verbal orders were issued as follows:-
    3rd DIVISION was to withdraw to a position on the River DENDRE, the withdrawal being covered by 4th DIVISION.
    7th GUARDS BRIGADE was to withdraw that night, forward positions being finally abandoned by 2300 hours.
    The withdrawal of 7th GUARDS BRIGADE and 9th INFANTRY BRIGADE was to be covered by 8th INFANTRY BRIGADE.
    2nd Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS were to cover the withdrawal of 1st Battalion COLDSTREAM GUARDS taking up a position about WINXELE with

    No. 3 Company on the right astride the road LOUVAIN-BRUSSELS,
    No. 4 Company guarding the entrance to WINXELE from the EAST and astride the railway,
    No. 1 Company on the left astride the road HERENT-WINXEL with the special task of covering out 1st Battalion COLDSTREAM GUARDS who were, at the time, very hard-pressed by the enemy.
    No. 2 Company were in reserve about the level crossing between WINXELE and BELTHAM guarding the Northern entrances to the village.

    When 1st Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS were through No. 3 Company a message was to be sent immediately to Battalion H.Q.
    Carrier Platoon and Carrier Platoon 1st Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS (now under command) were to act as rearguard to the Battalion and cover them out of WINXELE.

    The time of the withdrawal of Companies from the covering position would be issued by the Commanding Officer.
    Order of withdrawal:-
    No. 2 Company
    Battalion H.Q.
    No. 3 Company
    No. 4 Company
    Carrier Platoons.

    The covering position to be occupied by 2145 hours, thin-out of original position to commence at 2100 hours.
    “A” Echelon transport to R.V. on main BRUSSELS road under 2/Lieutenant J.D. AKERS at 2130 hours remaining there to pick-up as many of the Battalion as possible and transport them to the embussing area at BERCHTEM-SUR-AGATHE a suburb EAST of BRUSSELS and some 20 miles away.

    Route:- To main road LOUVAIN-BRUSSELS thence SAVENTHEM - Northern outskirts of BRUSSELS-BERCHTEM-STE. AGATHE.
    The route was to be picketted by 3rd DIVISION Provost staff.
    Battalion H.Q. were to close location at 2115 hours, re-opening at 2200 hours at VELTHEM level crossing.
    The withdrawal of the forward Battalions was carried out successfully, 1st Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS were reported through by No. 3 Company at about 2330 hours and orders were sent for No. 3 Company to withdraw along the main road behind 1st Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS.

    1940 May 17
    The last parties of 1st Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS passed through Battalion H.Q. at about 0005 hours.
    There were withdrawn on light tanks of the 5th INNISKILLEN DRAGOON GUARDS.
    Orders were immediately issued by the Commanding Officer to withdraw and Battalion H.Q. closed and moved on the march route at 0010 hours.
    No opposition was encountered other than a few parachute troops.
    Some parachute flares were dropped by enemy aircraft, but the column was not picked up.
    There were no casualties.
    The route to the embussing area was changed at the last moment, Brigade sending messages to each Company.
    The messages failed to reach Nos. 2 and 3 Companies and the Company Commander of No. 1 Company who consequently lost their way.
    Battalion H.Q. and the remainder of the Battalion embussed in “A” Echelon transport at first light and covered the remaining 10 miles through BRUSSELS to the embussing area, reaching it at about 0630 hours.
    There, orders were received that lifting Companies, ROYAL ARMY SERVICE CORPS would report to the Battalion at about 0800 hours to transport them to new defensive locality about OKEGEM on the River DENDRE.
    No.s 2 and 3 Companies and Captain JOHNSTONE rejoined the Battalion at about 0755 hours.
    “B” Echelon transport and all possible “A” Echelon moved off to OKEGEM at 0815 hours, preceded by a Brigade recce group.
    The Commanding Officer and Captain KINGSMILL accompanied them.
    1330 hours - 1410 hours The ROYAL ARMY SERVICE CORPS lifting Company eventually arrived at about 1330 hours and the Battalion embussed and proceeded at about 1410 hours.
    During the morning the men had been able to get a little rest as there were no air attacks on the Brigade concealment Area, though many enemy bombers were seen.
    On the route to OKEGEM there was much evidence of bombing and machine-gun attacks on the column of troops and refugees.
    The Battalion itself escaped with no casualties, though the column was bombed and machine-gunned from the air.
    There were casualties to refugees.
    1700 hours OKEGEM was reached at about 1700 hours and Company groups were guided direct to their locations before debussing.
    1800 hours Commanding Officer held a Conference at 1800 hours giving out orders as follows:
    The enemy has reached BRUSSELS.
    4th DIVISION were still covering the withdrawal and were themselves to withdraw from a line of the BRUSSELS Canal that night.
    Our front would then be held by the Division Cavalry of 3rd and 4th DIVISIONS.

    The Line was to be held with
    1st DIVISION on the right
    3rd DIVISION centre, and
    BELGIANS on the left.

    3rd DIVISION dispositions:-
    7th GUARDS BRIGADE right,
    8th INFANTRY BRIGADE left,
    9th INFANTRY BRIGADE reserve.

    7th GUARDS BRIGADE dispositions:-
    2nd Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS forward,
    1st Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS in support,
    1st Battalion COLDSTREAM GUARDS in reserve.

    The Battalion area was to be held as follows:-
    Right - No. 1 Company
    Centre - No. 2 Company astride the bridge across the River.
    Left - No. 4 Company guarding the footbridge and also the Northern exits of OKEGEM
    Reserve - No. 3 Company with a special task of immediate counter-attack in the event of the enemy forcing a passage across the bridge before it was blown.
    Carrier Platoon to remain in reserve at Battalion H.Q.
    Mortar Platoon detachment under command each No. 1 and No. 2 Companies.
    “A” and “B” Echelons to remain with Battalion.
    As much rest as possible to be got by the men during the night.
    Only minimum guards to be kept awake.
    The bridge to be prepared for demolition, but would only be blown on a direct order from the Commanding Officer and after the Division Cavalry had crossed.
    R/T communication would be opened and maintained from 1900 hours.
    It was hoped that the civilian population would be evacuated in the morning, and particular attention was drawn to possible 5th Column activities under the present conditions.
    Battalion H.Q. would remain in its present location, OKEGEM STATION.
    A peaceful night was spent and there was no contact with the enemy.

    1940 May 18
    Major R.H. BUSHMAN and Captain J.E. HARRISON both rejoined the Battalion from leave and assumed command of No.s 2 and 3 Companies respectively.
    8 Other Ranks also rejoined the Battalion from leave.
    The morning was spent in finishing the positions begun on the previous day.
    The footbridge on No. 4 Company’s front was demolished and the main bridge prepared for demolition.
    1200 hours At about 1200 hours Commanding Officer attended a Conference at Brigade H.Q. and sent a wireless message to the Battalion ordering positions to be named.
    1300 hours The bridge was blown up on his return at about 1300 hours.
    Forward enemy elements arrived on the opposite bank at 1330 hours.
    1330 hours Captain JOHNSTONE was then on a recce with his C.S.M. to find a suitable position for an Anti-Tank rifle.
    A German cyclist patrol headed by an officer in a civilian car came down the hill on the far side of the river.
    Captain JOHNSTONE himself immediately opened fire with the Anti-Tank rifle disabling the car and killing the occupants.
    The remainder of the cyclist patrol were engaged by a Bren gun of No. 1 Company and scattered, taking cover in a house leaving four dead.
    Immediately the Mortar detachment under command of No. 1 Company opened fire on the house and completely destroyed it.
    There was no further immediate enemy action.
    However, sniping and 5th Columnist activities became so severe in the village and surrounding country that an order was given for all civilians to be rounded up and confined under an armed guard.
    During this operation many civilians including women and children were killed and wounded by 5th Columnist sniping.
    The R.S.M. was severely wounded in the back.
    1700 hours At 1700 hours the Commanding Officer held a Conference in which preliminary orders for the withdrawal to a position on the river ESCAUT were given.
    These orders were not confirmed in writing, as it was not yet decided at which hour the withdrawal was to take place, though it was thought to be early morning.
    1800 hours By 1800 hours forward enemy elements were pushing up the line of the river, and there was considerable small arms activity.
    2030 hours At about 2030 hours Commanding Officer attended a Conference at Brigade H.Q.
    Meanwhile supporting ARTILLERY Regiments had register targets on the river bank and in the houses on the far side of the river and were in action.
    2300 hours At 2300 hours Major COLVIN attended a Brigade Conference to get final orders for the withdrawal of the Brigade and the Motor Transport and the embussing arrangements.
    On his return from Brigade H.Q. the Commanding Officer held a Conference of Company Commanders and gave out brief orders which were confirmed in writing for the withdrawal.

    They were as follows:-
    3rd DIVISION was to carry out a further withdrawal as already stated.
    The withdrawal was to be carried out by daylight.
    Forward Companies to commence to thin-out at 0750 hours finally abandoning at 0800 hours.
    Reserve Company to commence thinning-out at 0730 hours finally abandoning at 0740 hours.
    Transport - All Transport less one 15-cwt truck per Company was to R.V. at “B” Echelon and move at 0010 hours to EENE.
    19Here it was to wait for the Battalion.
    All Bren guns and Anti-Tank rifles then being loaded before the Battalion marched to the embussing Area.
    A distance of about 10 miles.
    Mortar Platoon was to remain under command of Companies to which attached.
    Carrier Platoon with Carrier Platoon 1st GRENADIER GUARDS under command to act as rearguard to the Brigade and cover the withdrawal.
    One Squadron 5th INNISKILLING DRAGOON GUARDS to take over the Battalion Sector the regiment acting as rearguard to the DIVISION.

    Order of march from Battalion R.V.
    No. 3 Company
    No. 4 Company
    Battalion H.Q.
    No. 2 Company
    No. 1 Company
    Battalion R.V. EENE crossroads. The route to Battalion R.V. to be recce’d by Companies.
    Battalion H.Q. remained in OKEGEM Station, closing at 0800 hours and then moving on march route.
    R.A.P. to move at the tail of the column, closing in OKEGEM at 0800 hours.
    During the early evening small arms activity greatly increased, and the enemy pushed M.G.s and L.M.G.s up to the line of the river bank.
    These were annihilated or turned out by Artillery and Mortar fire.

    1940 May 19
    There was considerable activity on the Battalion front all night.
    Patrols were sent out from No. 1 Company to make touch with the ROYAL I. FUSILIERS on the right.
    It was discovered that there was a considerable gap which was filled by the King’s Company, 1st Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS.
    After dawn there was much aerial activity by recce aircraft.
    However, the withdrawal proceeded according to plan though EENE was heavily shelled, both while the Battalion and the Transport were in it.
    There was one casualty, but no vehicles were damaged.
    The Battalion column was held up for more than an hour on the road outside EENE.
    During this time the road was heavily shelled, but again there was no casualties.
    For all except the last 1 1/2 miles the march route of the Battalion was under enemy shell fire, and at many times the column must have been in view of the enemy Observation Post.
    Companies embussed immediately on reaching the embussing point and the Battalion column, complete with “A” and “B” Echelon moved off at about 1430 hours.
    Throughout the march it seemed almost impossible for enemy aircraft to fail to pick up the Battalion column.
    There was considerable air activity which was completely unhindered, as no British aircraft appeared at all.
    Traffic congestion on the roads was very severe and the Battalion column was split.
    There were, otherwise, no incidents, though all roads showed signs of recent bombing and those to the right and left were bombed during the morning.
    Major COLVIN went on ahead to make the tactical dispositions in the new Sector on the River ESCAUT.
    On arrival in HELCHIN orders were issued verbally to the Commanding Officer that HELCHIN bridge was to be held at all costs and a bridgehead formed on the EAST side of the river.
    It appeared that the 8th INFANTRY BRIGADE had been left on the far side of the river and that there would be no other method of escape for them than this bridge.
    The bridge was not to be blown either until they had passed or a direct order was received from the DIVISIONAL Commander.
    The bridgehead was formed with 2 companies EAST of the river, No. 3 Company right, No. 1 Company left.
    No. 2 Company held the bridge itself and No. 4 Company were in reserve on the WEST bank, having an immediate counter-attack role.
    The position was manned by about 1900 hours.
    The men of the Battalion were very tired and it was not possible to prepare alternative positions for the eventual defence of the Battalion Sector, as well as those for the bridgehead.

    1940 May 20
    The bridge was eventually blown at 0200 hours, forward companies having been withdrawn across the river to billets in HELCHIN.
    At dawn, Major COLVIN carried out a recce of the Battalion Sector and allotted companies’ dispositions to Company Commanders as follows:-

    Right - No. 2 Company
    Centre - No. 4 Company
    Left - No. 1 Company
    Reserve - No. 3 Company
    Carrier Platoon to remain in reserve.
    Mortar Platoon to cover the approaches to the Battalion and the demollished houses on the far bank of the river.
    Positions were to be dug on the river bank itself, as well as some little distance back from it.
    Battalion H.Q. was to remain forward by the bridge until further recce had been carried out.

    630 hours At about 0630 hours Major COLVIN noticed 4 enemy, obviously observers, crawling back from the river line.
    The order to man the position was immediately sent but, owing to the fact that Company H.Q. were in the act of changing localities, it was some time before the position was manned.
    0700 hours By 0700 hours the enemy were registering with air bursts on the whole Battalion Sector, and particularly on Battalion H.Q.
    His forward elements were pushing up to the line of the river, and there was heavy L.M.G. fire, particularly in the area of the Bridge.
    0730 hours At about 0730 hours shelling of the whole area was becoming heavy, and the Battalion H.Q. stood to and was organized to carry out an immediate counter attack on the bridge in the event of enemy infiltration, as the Section holding it appeared to be in difficulties.
    0900 hours By 0900 hours shelling had become so heavy that it became necessary to move Battalion H.Q. and a new position was recce’d on the Western edge of the town.
    0930 hours - 1000 hours An advance party under Lieutenant J. TROTTER opened the new Battalion H.Q. at about 0930 hours and Battalion moved at about 1000 hours.
    1030 hours By 1030 hours shell fire had become intense over the whole Battalion area, and enemy columns were reported to be debussing about 800 yards back from the river.
    These, however, could not be engaged by our supporting ARTILLERY as they had orders not to fire until the enemy crossed the river owing to the extreme shortage of ammunition, nor was any counter battery fire permitted.
    There was no liaison between Batteries and forward Battalions and no F.O.O.s to be found.
    During the forenoon enemy Artillery fire became extremely accurate and it was greatly augmented by salvos of 4” Mortar bombs which appeared to have a range of some 3000 yards.
    1100 hours At 1100 hours the Commanding Officer was called to a Brigade Conference and Major COLVIN took over command of the Battalion.
    1130 hours At 1130 hours the enemy made repeated attempts to infiltrate on No. 1 Company’s front where there was a dangerous gap between No. 1 Company and the right Company of the 9th BRIGADE.
    Two Sectors of the Carrier Platoon were dispatched to cover this gap by ground action and the Brigadier sent the COLDSTREAM Carrier Platoon and Mortar Platoon to come under command of the Battalion.
    1400 hours By 1400 hours the position was stabilized, though communication with No. 1 Company was almost impossible, all approaches to their H.Q. being covered by M.G. fire.
    Shelling had by then almost ceased, though there had been some 18 casualties.
    During the morning it had been give out in the town that the civilian population must be evacuated by 1400 hours.
    There was considerable sniping and many of the telephone wires were tapped or cut either by parachute troops dressed as civilians or by 5th Columnists.
    Three of these were executed during the morning.
    After 1400 hours all civilian were ordered to be arrested and a search was made of the town, resulting in some 14 men being found in possession of firearms or ammunition.
    These were also executed.
    Orders were issued that the line of the river ban was to be occupied at dark, all forward Companies pushing up their forward Sections and Platoons.

    1940 May 21
    There was considerable small arms and mortar activity during the night.
    However, no enemy efforts were successful in crossing the river.
    Companies successfully withdrew again from the river line at first light, reoccupying the rearward positions.
    Information was received during the day that considerable difficulty was likely to be experience in supply of rations and material of all kinds, and Battalions were asked to make every possible use of local resources.
    In consequence, foraging parties were sent out by Companies and all stores etc. were concentrated under Company arrangements.
    Cattle and pigs were herded together in a farm near Battalion H.Q. and enough meat was killed to last the Battalion for a day.
    There was no enemy activity of note, though the lack of Artillery support was greatly felt, for many excellent targets appeared.
    1/7th and 2 (M.G.) Battalions MIDDLESEX REGIMENT were now supporting the BRIGADE.
    Commanding Officer issued orders that No. 3 Company would relieve No. 1 Company at dark, owing to the very bad conditions prevailing in the latter’s position, two Platoons being waist deep in mud and water.
    This relief was successfully carried out, No. 3 Company taking 8 Carrier Pigeons with them to aid communication during daylight.

    1940 May 22
    The night passed without incident.
    The Commanding Officer attended a Conference in the morning and ordered a Company Commander’s Conference at 1200 hours to give orders for a further withdrawal.
    Major COLVIN proceeded back on a recce to MARTINOIRE, a village on the outskirts of ROUBAIX and TURCOING.
    This had been a Sector of the 4 DIVISION area, dug during the winter 1939/40.
    At the Conference held by the Commanding Officer the following orders were given:-
    A further withdrawal, to the original prepared position was to be carried out.
    7th GUARDS BRIGADE was to hold a position about WATTRELOS, with 8th INFANTRY BRIGADE right, and 9th INFANTRY BRIGADE left.
    Detailed orders for the withdrawal and the occupation of the new position were to be issued and would be given out at a Conference when Major COLVIN returned.
    Battalion was to move by march route, a distance of about 10 miles.
    In the meantime further efforts were to be made to secure food, as it was improbable that more than a weeks rations remained, and as much as possible was to be saved.
    In consequence of these orders, 652 chickens, 2 head of cattle, 8 sheep, 6 pigs and 2 calves were killed and transported to “B” Echelon.
    2500 eggs were collected and also sent to “B” Echelon.
    Major COLVIN returned at about 1930 hours and the Conference was held at about 2030 hours, Captain RUSSELL attending for Captain HARRISON owing to the great difficulty of getting a message to No. 3 Company before dark.
    The following orders were given verbally and later confirmed in writing:-
    The information was unchanged.
    No.s 2 and 4 Companies to commence to thin out at 0230 hours and finally abandon position at 0245 hours.
    Reserve Company (No. 1 Company) to abandon at 0130 hours.
    0220 hours - 0230 hours No. 3 Company to commence to thin out at 0220 hours and finally abandon at 0230 hours.
    H.Q. Company marching personnel less the fighting Patrol and skeleton Carrier Platoon to cover out the Battalion and act as rearguard.
    Battalion R.V. road and railway crossing about 1 1/2 miles WEST.
    Companies to select own routes to R.V.
    Route thence along railway to LA CITADELLE-WATTRELOS-LE BALLON, where Companies would be met by guides.
    Transport - All “A” Echelon transport to R.V. at midnight at No. 2 Company, H.Q. and process under M.T.O. direct to MARTINOIRE.
    The new position to be occupied as followed:-

    Right 1st Battalion COLDSTREAM GUARDS
    Left - 2nd Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS
    Reserve - 1st Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS

    Battalion Position:-
    Forward Right - No. 1 Company
    Forward Left - No. 3 Company
    Reserve - No. 2 Company
    Left - No. 4 Company
    Battalion H.Q. to close at 0250 hours and move on march route.
    Great care to be taken by all Companies over the first 3 miles of the withdrawal, as whole distance was in full view of the enemy.

    1940 May 23
    The withdrawal proceeded according to plan being greatly assisted by a thick morning mist.
    There was intermittent shell fire along the line of the railway, but there were no casualties.
    0730 hours Martinoire MARTINOIRE was reached at about 0730 hours.
    Companies and Battalion H.Q. being guided directly into their new positions.
    These proved to be a very great disappointment to everyone, as they were almost non-existent.
    After the many months of hard work and the interest which the men of the Battalion had shown, in commencing and almost completing an excellent trench system at HEM, it much have been very depressing at least to find no more than a few section posts completed in the next DIVISIONAL Area, which had equally as much time and a better opportunity for the construction of a proper defended line.
    Digging was immediately commenced, and as a result of the condition of the line, two Platoons of a Pioneer Battalion were put under command.
    A recce was made by the Platoon Commanders, one Platoon being allotted to each Forward Company.
    Work by then was commenced at dusk.
    No contact was gained with the enemy during the day, but information from refugees showed that forward elements arrived in front of the position after dark.
    Fifth Column activities were negligible compared to those experienced in BELGIUM.
    During the day all possible cattle were collected, and about 50 head of Milch cows were sent to the Brigade Farm.
    18 Milch cows and about 12 pigs were retained at Battalion H.Q. together with about 70 hens.
    It was also discovered that there were considerable provisions in the sidings of the railway junction.
    A complete British Pack Train of provisions was found by No. 3 Company together with 2 trains of about 40 trucks each of BELGIAN munitions and two trucks of Medium Artillery Ammunition.
    These were all successfully evacuated by the ROYAL ENGINEERS and ROYAL ARMY SERVICE CORPS during the night.

    1940 May 24
    A quiet night with little shelling, though there was considerable bombing of ROUBAIX and TURCOING.
    During the day orders were issued that, owing to the extreme shortage as far as the Battalion was concerned by finding 63,000 rounds of armour piercing S.A.A., dumped by the ROYAL AIR FORCE.
    This was issued to the Carrier Platoon and the Anti-Aircraft Platoon and 1000 rounds to each Company.
    A Standing Patrol was sent out to a farm in front of the position.
    The Patrol were offered coffee by the farmer, who then walked off.
    Within 20 minutes the Patrol was almost surrounded by the enemy, undoubtedly informed of their presence by the farmer.
    Four enemy were killed and there were no casualties to the patrol.
    There was no other enemy activity during the day and a quiet night was spent.
    Digging continued on the position and wire was erected along the front.
    No. 2 Company relieved No. 1 Company, and No. 4 Company relieved No. 3 Company.

    1940 May 25
    2230 hours - 0215 hours Martinoire A Patrol under the command of Captain JOHNSTONE, which went out at 2230 hours the previous evening, returned at about 0215 hours, having succeeded in recovering the body of one of the Germans killed on the previous morning.
    Indentifications were sent to BRIGADE H.Q.
    Recce of Company positions was carried out by Company Commanders of 1st Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS during the morning with a view to the possible relief of the Battalion by 1st Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS.
    1330 hours The Commanding Officer attended a Conference at BRIGADE H.Q. at 1330 hours and it was eventually decided that 1st Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS should now relieve 1st Battalion COLDSTREAM GUARDS and not the Battalion.
    The day passed without further incident, shelling being slight.
    Considerable German activity was observed along the line of both railway embankments, and good observation was gained from the Battalion Observation Points.
    Further ROYAL ENGINEERING material was issued to all Companies and work on the positions was continued by the forward Companies at dusk.

    1940 May 26
    The night passed without incident.
    During the morning large numbers of enemy aircraft flew over ROUBAIX and TURCOING and the noise of heavy and continual bombing could be heard some distance away.
    A few bombs were dropped in the centre of the town but none in the Battalion area.
    There appeared to be few 5th Column activities in the area, though many civilians both FRENCH and BELGIAN, were brought in for interrogation.
    Shelling was very slight.
    The Commanding Officer attended a Conference at BRIGADE H.Q. in the afternoon and gave preliminary orders to Company Commanders as follows:-

    The B.E.F. were to carry out a withdrawal to DUNKERQUE and embark for ENGLAND.
    7th GUARDS BRIGADE was to withdraw from its present position either on the night of 26th or 27th May, and orders would be issued in detail.
    All surplus kit was to be destroyed, each man to keep only his personal kit, fighting kit and greatcoat.
    All spare clothing, anti-gas kit, etc. carried by the Q.M. to be destroyed.
    No mention was to be made to the men of an embarkation, and the kit was not to be destroyed until further orders for the move were received.
    Information was later received that the withdrawal would not take place until 27th May.

    1940 May 27
    Martinoire A quiet night was spent.
    The Commanding Officer attended a Conference in the morning and final orders were given out as follows:-

    The general information remained unchanged.
    3rd DIVISION was to withdraw as follows:-

    8th INFANTRY BRIGADE, 9th INFANTRY BRIGADE, 7th GUARDS BRIGADE as rearguard, proceeding to occupy a new position NORTH of OOSTVLETEREN, with 8th and 9th BRIGADES, and 7th GUARDS BRIGADE in reserve.
    The withdrawal of the BRIGADE to be carried out with 1st GRENADIER GUARDS acting as rearguard and covered by the Carrier Platoon.

    The Battalion was to withdraw as follows:-
    Reserve Companies and H.Q. Company and Battalion H.Q., less Adjutant, Intelligence Officer and 2 D.R.s to abandon at 2315 hours, marching direct to “B” Echelon (which was situated in ROUBAIX), where they would embus on Company vehicles supplemented as necessary.
    Thence to proceed under the command of Major COLVIN to OOSTVLETEREN.
    Forward Companies to abandon at 2359 hours at the same place at 0100 hours.

    TRANSPORT - “A” and “B” Echelon, supplemented by 7th GUARDS BRIGADE Transport to form up in the BOULEVARDE-ROUBAIX, facing WEST, with head on level crossing and tail on WEST side of Canal bridge.
    Order of march, No. 3 Company, No. 1 Company, H.Q. Company, No. 4 Company and No.2 Company.
    “B” Echelon Vehicles not used for carrying troops to proceed with the main Battalion Column under Major COLVIN.
    M.T.O. to remain with transport for No.s 2 and 4 Companies.
    Battalion H.Q. close at midnight, reopening at the same hour at MARTINOIRE thence moving on march route.
    R.A.P. to close at 0001 hours following up the forward Companies and moving in rear of the Battalion column.
    Separate orders were issued to the Carrier Platoon as follows:-
    Carrier Platoon was to report to Brigade Commander, 9th INFANTRY BRIGADE at 2100 hours where special detailed orders would be issued.
    The Carriers were to cover the withdrawal of the 9th INFANTRY BRIGADE then hold the Northern approaches of TOURCOUING to permit the withdrawal of the 7th GUARDS BRIGADE and finally join the Carriers of 1st Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS in covering the general withdrawal of the DIVISION.
    During the early evening all spare kit was destroyed, being either burned or, in the case of spare clothing and maps, sunk in the Canal.
    2000 hours At about 2000 hours shelling commenced on No. 2 Company front, and this continued for about 1 1/2 hours.
    Casualties were very slight though the BELGIAN soldier who was still in arrest and who had served so well in the Company was severely wounded in the leg.
    He had to be evacuated to a civilian hospital.
    A very heavy enemy bombardment came down on our left flank in the 9th BRIGADE Sector and lasted for 1 hour.
    There was no enemy activity during the rest of the evening and Reserve Companies withdrew according to plan.

    1940 May 28
    The withdrawal of the Forward Companies was carried out successfully and without opposition, though enemy patrols were sighted at close quarters by the rear parties of No. 4 Company.
    The BRIGADE S.P. on the main TOURCOING-LILLE road was passed to time.
    About of the journey was covered at a good pace, but then a severe traffic block was encountered and no further progress of note was made until 0420 hours, the whole BRIGADE transport being jammed.
    This was apparently due to I DIVISION ARTILLERY, which had got out of place, and then halted in the centre of the road, the drivers at once falling asleep.
    It was not until the officers in the leading part of the column had woken up the drivers and moved them to the sides that it was possible to continue.
    There was a bad hold up PLUGSTREET WOOD but luckily low cloud and heavy rain set in at dawn permitting little visibility from the air.
    Even so parts of the column were heavily bombed though the Battalion itself escaped casualties.
    The column proceeded on its way by about 0430 hours, reorganising under cover of MESSINES RIDGE.
    Many detours had to be made in the route about MESSINES and YPRES owing to the severity of the battle in progress there and to the fact that the original route was by then almost in the front line.
    In many places was so severe that further detours had to be made.
    In consequence the Battalion column was split, however, there were no casualties.
    At one period during the night a battle was raging on all four sides of our long M.T. Column and it was learned afterwards that the Germans were in occupation of LILLE before we withdrew from ROUBAIX.
    Meanwhile the Commanding Officer and Major COLVIN had gone on to OOSTVLETEREN to carry out a recce of the new position, leaving the Battalion to be brought on by Major PAKENHAM and the Adjutant.
    Oostvleteren The leading vehicles of the Battalion arrived in OOSTVLETEREN at 0805 hours, the remaining companies and “B” Echelon arriving at 0955 hours having been heavily attacked near VLAMMERTINGHE by some 20 enemy Dive Bombers and consequently held up.
    There were no casualties to the Battalion or its vehicles in this raid although many were smothered with mud and debris.
    Battalion H.Q. was immediately established in a farm house EAST of OOSTVLETEREN.
    No.s 1 and 3 Companies were allotted localities guarding the bridges over the Canal at LINDE and POLINCHOVE, No. 4 Company being at ELSENDAM and No. 2 Company in reserve guarding the WESTERN exits of OOSTVLETEREN.
    There was great enemy aerial activity throughout the whole morning.
    Repeated bombing attacks being made on the roads, towns and villages in the vicinity.
    There was no British aerial activity though Anti-aircraft fire brought down a few enemy planes.
    The Carrier Platoon arrived at Battalion H.Q. at 1320 hours.
    Two carriers had been lost, but there were no casualties to personnel.
    Enemy aerial activity continued during the afternoon with unabated vigour.
    The Commanding Officer attended a Conference at BRIGADE H.Q. at 1930 hours.
    It was then finally established that the FRENCH were moving up into a position on the Left of the Battalion and holding a line thence to the sea with two Infantry Divisions and one D.L.M. Division.
    By 2000 hours the roads were congested with FRENCH Tanks and motorised columns.
    In its present position the Battalion was spread over an area of about 5 miles.
    Companies were holding various bridges over the Canal in isolated places and communication was difficult.

    1940 May 29
    A quiet night was spent.
    Enemy aerial activity increased at dawn and the BELGIAN Soldiers laid down their arms, thereby leaving a gap of 35 miles on our Northern Flank.
    Two Batteries of ARTILLERY took up a position on either side of Battalion H.Q. and commenced to range.
    Owing to their complete failure to observe aircraft warnings it seemed that Battalion H.Q. would soon be located.
    However, they were ordered not to fire for some hours.
    A Company Commanders Conference was held at 1015 hours and the following information was given out:-

    3rd DIVISION was to carry out a further withdrawal to an area centred on FURNES.
    Here the outer bridge head for the embarkation was to be formed.
    I CORPS would be on the Right, forming the inner bridge head and 4th DIVISION on the Left, holding beach defences.
    The FRENCH D.L.M. Division was still at DIXMUDE.
    One FRENCH Division was holding the line of the River YSER and another the WEST flank on the other side of DUNKERQUE.
    50th DIVISION in the SOUTH had moved back and were now in contact between POPERINGHE and ELVERDINGHE, about 7 miles away.
    5th DIVISON were with the FRENCH on the YSER with their Left at FLINTELLE.
    7th GUARDS BRIGADE were to move tonight to FURNES to take up a defensive position on the Canal, holding it until the remainder of the B.E.F. were inside the bridge head.
    All transport was ordered to be destroyed but the Brigade Commander overrode this order, giving authority for as much transport as needed to be taken forward.

    The following was detailed to be taken:-
    1 x 15-cwt truck per Company
    1 x 30-cwt truck per Company
    1 S.A.A. truck
    1 water cart
    All Mortar trucks
    Ambulance and Medical truck

    Each man was to have 1 days preserved rations and an Iron Ration on him and 2 days preserved rations were to be carried.
    All remaining kit and transport was to be destroyed at once.
    Company Commanders were ordered to meet the Commanding Officer at the Battalion R.V. at a time to be notified.
    Battalion H.Q. were to remain in present position until withdrawal commenced then moving on march route.
    Time of withdrawal to be issued.
    The Commanding Officer was called to a Conference at BRIGADE H.Q. at 1100 hours, 2/Lieutenant O.D. BEVAN was then acting as Liaison Officer with BRIGADE H.Q., there being no telephonic communications, and he accompanied the Commanding Officer to BRIGADE.
    There was now considerable shelling of the Batteries round Battalion H.Q. and of the main road and a salvo of shells dropped almost directly on the car as it was going through OOSTVLETEREN.
    2/Lieutenant O.D. BEVAN was killed, but the Commanding Officer and his driver escaped unhurt.
    On his return from the Conference the Commanding Officer issued the following:-
    Withdrawal was to commence at 1500 hours that afternoon
    Battalion R.V. would be at LINDE Crossroads.
    Leading Company to pass Battalion R.V. at 1500 hours.

    Order of march :-
    No. 1 Company
    Battalion H.Q. and H.Q. Company
    No. 4 Company
    No. 2 Company
    No. 3 Company

    Company Commanders to meet Commanding Officer at Battalion R.V. 1530 hours.
    Special attention was drawn to the necessity of avoiding villages and Crossroads, for hourly halts, as the whole line of the road was under enemy shell fire.
    Transport to move with Companies.
    Battalion to be accompanied on the line of march by Major COLVIN.
    Intelligence Officer to accompany the Commanding Officer on his recce of FURNES.
    At about 1400 hours there was further heavy shelling of the Battalion H.Q. area and the main road and it was decided to lead Battalion H.Q. out through the fields.
    As the rear files were leaving the farm buildings a heavy Artillery Concentration came down on them, razing the farm to the ground.
    Withdrawal worked according to plan and No. 1 Company passed LINDE crossroads at 1500 hours, the Battalion proceeding on the march route along the main road.
    The outskirts of FURNES were reached without casualties, through No. 2 Company were shelled at one point and there were 3 casualties.
    There was considerable shelling in FURNES itself and soon very considerable S.A. fire.
    Captain HARRISON reported back to Major COLVIN that the enemy had broken through and already reached the line of the canal.
    Also that the recce party under the Commanding Officer has been surprised and it was feared that the Commanding Officer, Major PAKENHAM and Captain JEFFREYS had been killed.
    They were certainly lying wounded in an exposed position on the canal bank.
    Major COLVIN immediately proceeded forward in a carrier and found that these three officers had been pulled into the cover of a house by 2/Lieutenant JONES.
    Mr JONES had displayed great gallantry and complete disregard to personal risk, standing under heavy rifle and M.G. fire while he carried the Commanding Officer who was dead and Major PAKENHAM and Captain JEFFREYS into the house.
    The front of the house was under such heavy fire that it was quite impossible for stretcher bearers to approach it.
    2/Lieutenant HENNESSY arranged with the FRENCH tanks who were then present in the town to go up to the front of the building and endeavour to extract the wounded.
    Even this was found impossible as Anti-Tank weapons were immediately brought to bear.
    *Meanwhile 2/Lieutenant JONES assisted by Major BUSHMAN and Captain KINGSMILL made an entrance through the back of the house and extricated them.
    Captain JEFFREYS has died of his wounds.
    [* See post no. 15]
    The recce was continued by Major COLVIN and Company dispositions were allotted as follows:-
    Right - No. 1 Company
    Centre - No. 3 Company
    Left - No. 4 Company
    Reserve - No. 2 Company

    The importance of keeping out of sight of the enemy was stressed and Companies had orders to fortify houses and stay in them by day and night.
    The only movement allowed in the street was to be Company runners and linesmen.
    Major COLVIN assumed command of the Battalion, Major BUSHMAN becoming Second-in-Command, Captain KINGSMILL commanding H.Q. Company and Captain G.E.W. POTTER taking command of No. 4 Company.
    Captain POTTER had joined the Battalion at WATTRELOS.
    The Centre and Left Companies had considerable difficulty in occupying their positions being under fire from both 5th Column on the near bank of the Canal and German snipers and L.M.G. on the far bank.
    The position was finally occupied by about 2130 hours.
    Battalion H.Q. had been established in a cellar in the centre of the town.
    This cellar had been occupied by a 5th Columnist who was discovered and executed.
    The whole occupation of the town and loss of life to the Battalion and to the 2nd (M.G.) Battalion MIDDLESEX REGIMENT who had supported the Battalion into position might have been avoided if the BRITISH troops holding the town on the previous day had not been drunk when the Battalion entered it, as were a great proportion of the FRENCH Soldiers.
    The evening was fairly quiet, shelling being spasmodic along the Battalion front.
    Lieutenant-Colonel LLOYD and Captain JEFFRIES were buried in the Close of FURNES Cathedral.

    1940 May 30
    Throughout the night there was general enemy activity on the front.
    Shelling was slight.
    Some heavy mortar bombs were dropped on No. 4 Company position.
    There were now 4 x 18-pounder guns in support of the BRIGADE.
    These were of little use however, as neither the Gunners nor the Liaison Officer possessed a map.
    Nor had any Observation Posts been established.
    Touch was made during the morning with 1st Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS on the right and ROYAL BERKS on the left.
    By 1100 hours there was every evidence of a strong enemy attack on the Battalion front and heavy shell fire commenced over the whole town as well as aerial bombing.
    Battalion H.Q. was repeatedly hit by Medium Artillery shells and almost the whole house blown down.
    No.s 3 and 4 Companies were particularly heavily bombed by mortars.
    There were few casualties owing to the excellence of the cellars and no movement in the streets.
    At about 1130 hours an attempt was made to cross the Canal which was easily frustrated.
    The enemy used rubber boats which sunk when hit by bursts of small arms fire.
    The supporting Artillery proved to be worse than useless, their first S.O.S. fire coming down in our own forward Company areas.
    Their support was then dispensed with.
    The Commanding Officer attended a Conference at BRIGADE H.Q. at 1700 hours where orders were issued to the effect that 3rd DIVISION must now hold on for another 48 hours.
    There was heavy shell fire throughout the whole afternoon and an attack developed on the 8th INFANTRY BRIGADE front to the left.
    Considerable apprehension was felt particularly owing to the number of fleeing British soldiers who were seen by officers and D.R.s when they went outside the BRIGADE Sector.
    During the afternoon the shelling continued unabated and there were two tremendous explosions which shook the whole town and brought down all damaged buildings.
    These were thought to be either aerial torpedoes or liquid air bombs.
    At about 2000 hours shelling subsided slightly though by this time many houses in the town were burning fiercely, and the situation was unpleasant.
    Again great apprehension was felt about the left flank of the Battalion and it was eventually arranged that the right Company of the ROYAL BERKS would be relieved by No. 1 Company 1st Battalion COLDSTREAM GUARDS at 2130 hours.
    More and more German Artillery was being brought up to close range as there was no counter Battery work.
    Further enemy attacks developed on No. 4 Company and the relieving COLDSTREAM Company at about 2145 hours and considerable numbers of the enemy crossed the Canal on the COLDSTREAM front.The position remained very obscure for some hours, there being fierce fighting on the Canal bank.
    Two Platoons of the reserve Company were pushed forward to support the left flank.
    The position, however, was stabilized without their assistance.

    [See post no.s 15 & 16]

    1940 May 31
    Between 0001 hours and 0100 hours a further enemy attack came in and more men gained the line of the canal about the inter Battalion boundary on the left.
    The position was stabilized by a successful COLDSTREAM counter-attack.
    Their casualties were very heavy both in Officers and men, 40 badly wounded men were evacuated through 2nd Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS R.A.P.
    The attack recommenced with first light at about 0300 hours and continued until about 0700 hours when the shelling subsided considerably.
    No Germans had gained the near bank of the Canal on the Battalion front though about two Platoons strength had succeeded in establishing themselves immediately to the left of the Battalion boundary.
    Some of these had infiltrated into the houses on the left of No. 4 Company’s position.
    They were not, however, in sufficient quantities to be of any account though they were sniping vigourously.
    At 0100 hours the Quartermaster and other non-fighting ranks of the Battalion had left to embark for ENGLAND taking with them the confidential box and all Battalion documents.
    The Commanding Officer attended a Conference at BRIGADE H.Q. at 0600 hours and returned to hold a Company Commanders Conference at 0730 hours.

    The following orders were given out:-
    The information remained unchanged.
    The Battalion in company with the remainder of 3rd DIVISION were to embark for ENGLAND that night.

    The withdrawal to the coast to be carried out as follows:-
    H.Q. Company complete plus Battalion H.Q. and all possible spare men from rifle Companies were to leave FURNES by march route under command of the Adjutant at 2330 hours proceeding to LA PANNE.
    The reserve Company under Captain CLARKE to abandon at 0100 hours.
    On arrival at LA PANNE they would receive instructions from the movement control officers re the embarkation which was to take place from the beach at LA PANNE.
    The remainder of the Battalion was to commence to thin out at 0215 hours and finally abandon the position at 0230 hours.
    All personnel were to be embussed in Company vehicles as near to Company areas as possible and proceed to LA PANNE independently by Motor Transport.
    All ranks were to be instructed that if they failed to embark at LA PANNE, or lost their way, that they were to proceed to the coast and thence along the sea shore to DUNKIRK where they would be embarked for ENGLAND.
    All kit other than Bren Guns, Anti-Tank rifles and rifles were to be abandoned.
    These were to be taken to ENGLAND.
    There was to be no Battalion R.V. or S.P.
    The final withdrawal from FURNES was to made as quickly as possible.
    Battalion H.Q. would close at midnight a report centre opening in the same place and at the same hour, where the Commanding Officer and Intelligence Officer would remain to receive final reports from Company Commanders at 0225 hours.
    This was the first occasion on which the Other Ranks of the Battalion were informed of the intention to embark for ENGLAND.

    During the morning a Section of No. 2 Company under the command of a Lance-Corporal drove out the enemy who had infiltrated into the left of No. 4 Company’s position.
    All of them, some 20 in number, were killed only one slight casualty being suffered by the Section.
    Further attempts were made by the enemy to cross the Canal throughout the whole morning and shell fire was very heavy.
    In no case were these successful though a few still remained on the near bank immediately to the left of the Battalion boundary.
    During these operation Captain POTTER was badly wounded in the right arm and Lieutenant I.J. CROSTHWAITE assumed command of No. 4 Company.
    At about 1030 hours one Section of the Carrier Platoon was sent out to fill a gap between the ROYAL SUFFOLKS and the ROYAL BERKS on the left of the Battalion area.
    2/Lieutenant JONES brought back information that the morale in these Battalions was extremely low.
    At 1220 hours one Carrier returned to Battalion H.Q. bringing with it a Sapper.
    This man when he had been brought to his senses gave information that the line on the 8th BRIGADE Front had been broken and that the GERMANS were coming across the Canal unopposed.
    2/Lieutenant JONES with the remaining two Sections of the Carrier Platoon was sent to investigate.
    He returned at about 1400 hours and reported that the position had now been stabilized.
    When he arrived he found that the ROYAL BERKSHIRES and ROYAL SUFFOLK REGIMENTS accompanied by men of the 246th Field Company, ROYAL ENGINEERS who had been put in the line were about to withdraw without orders.
    An effort was made by one of their officers to rally them but they broke under heavy enemy shell fire before they could be reorganised.
    Mr. JONES found it necessary to shoot some of the men and his N.C.O.s turned others at the point of the bayonet.
    However, he succeeded in restoring order and himself led the remains of both the Battalions and the ROYAL ENGINEERS back to the line of the Canal.
    Mr. JONES also reported that there was no capable Officer present with either Battalion and communication with their own BRIGADE H.Q. was non-existant.
    Also that ammunition was running short.
    The Commanding Officer therefore sent Lieutenant J. TROTTER back with 2/Lieutenant JONES to help in reorganising the line.
    14000 rounds of S.A.A. were also sent.
    It was undoubtedly due to the prompt action of 2/Lieutenant JONES that an enemy break through between the BRIGADE area and the sea was averted.
    Lieutenant J. TROTTER reported back to the Battalion at about 1500 hours stating that the whole position on the 8th BRIGADE front was stabilized and that the morale of the men was now high.
    All wounded had also been evacuated and the Carrier Platon was in support.
    Meanwhile No. 4 Company were heavily attacked by the enemy but very few gained the near bank of the river and these were pinned by fire to the house in which they had taken cover.
    The Commanding Officer attended a further Conference at BRIGADE H.Q. at 1530 hours and a final Conference on the withdrawal and the disposal of Battalion transport were discussed.
    The remainder of the day was spent without further enemy attack though shelling continued until about 2330 hours.
    The town was now in ruins and burning fiercely.
    mvdv84 likes this.
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    June 1st, 1940
    The withdrawal was carried out according to plan, H.Q. Coy and spare men moving off at 0003 hours. There were no incidents on the line of march until LA PANNE was reached. The village was being shelled continuously with H.E. and incendiary shells and movement was difficult in the dark owing to falling debris and tangled telephone wires. However, there were no casualties and the beach was reached at about 0150 hours. Parties were detailed for embarkation and given orders to turn left handed along the beach and continue until a jetty was reached.

    By 0300 hours the remains of a jetty was reached. It was under heavy shell fire and there seemed to be no chance of embarking whatsoever. The beach was crowded with soldiers and as dawn approached H.Q.’s dug themselves in the sand dunes. However, they were almost immediately shelled out of this and continued along the beach to Dunkirk which was about 10 miles distant. Enemy air activity was intense and there was no intervention by British or French planes. The beach and the ships standing out to sea were continually bombed. Some casualties were lost from low flying machine gun attacks by enemy fighters and great difficulty was experienced in evacuating the casualties.

    Nos. 1, 3 and 4 Coys. arriving on the beach at 0315 hours found no Staff Officers to direct them and no small boats available in which to ferry men out to the Destroyers. What small boats there were had to be used for carrying the wounded in and had it not been for certain officers in the Bde. organising this evacuation many wounded officers and men of other Units would have been left on the sands or drowned by their own comrades in their panic to save their own skins. Several Guardsmen at once came to the assistance of their Officers in his unpleasant situation and held back several hundreds of undisciplined troops who were endeavouring to seize the boats for themselves rather than let their wounded comrades use them.

    Squadrons of Messerschmitts flew low down the sands machine gunning the mass of men; how few they killed was remarkable, but here again it was always noticeable that Guardsmen and other disciplined troops stood their ground and returned the aeroplanes’ fire with their rifles and Bren guns whilst most of the other troops rand for the cover of neighbouring sand dunes. Much good work was done that morning by Officers and men of the Bde. although it may never be known to the rest of the B.E.F.

    Embarkation proceeded slowly throughout the day from various points on the beach and from Dunkirk itself. The last of the Bn. left Dunkirk at 1800 hours that night. There were unfortunately many drowned.
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    Pdf file for 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards CWGC entries.

    I have left in details of some men who may or may not have served with the 2nd Bn., but all details have been cross checked with the Roll of Honour in the Grenadier Guards History, and any extra details noted.

    Attached Files:

    Drew5233 likes this.
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    3rd Division
    2614519 Sergeant G. OSBORNE, M.M., 2nd Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS

    On June 1st, 1940, the Battalion was attacked and machine gunned by low flying aircraft on the beach at MALO LES BAINS.

    During the whole attack Sergeant OSBORNE displayed great bravery in his efforts to help the wounded both of the 2nd Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS and other Regiments. He repeatedly returned to the beach from the A.D.S. and also helped to evacuate wounded to the ships.

    When the low flying attack was repeated, Sergeant OSBORNE made no effort to take cover, but continued to tend the wounded. Throughout the whole morning he was under shell fire and continually subjected to low flying attacks.

    It was largely due to his untiring efforts, and complete disregard of personal danger, that it was possible for all the wounded to be evacuated to the A.D.S. or to ships in the vicinity.

    Recommended for Military Medal

    The National Archives | DocumentsOnline | Image Details

    Name: Osborne, G
    Rank: Serjeant
    Service No: 2614519
    Regiment: 2 Grenadier Guards
    Theatre of Combat or Operation: British Expeditionary Force 1939-40
    Award: Military Medal
    Date of Announcement in London Gazette: 11 July 1940
    Date: 1940
    Catalogue reference: WO 373/15


    Attached Files:

  15. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    Diane, Thanks for transcribing and posting this. I have the WD from Drew also but haven't found the time to do this.

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    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Not surprising, considering how busy you are with Recce stuff. Anything you'd care to add to this thread would be appreciated though.

    Any corrections to text also welcome.
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    The National Archives | DocumentsOnline | Image Details

    3rd Division
    2nd Lieutenant J.A.P. JONES, 2nd Battalion, GRENADIER GUARDS

    When the Battalion was holding the left of the Brigade Sector near FURNES on 31st May, this Officer was sent with his Carrier Platoon to investigate the situation still further to the left where it was reported that the enemy had broken through and had crossed the canal.

    He found elements of several units retiring from their positions after all their officers had become casualties, and he at once intercepted them. By his initiative and determination he rallied these men and organised a counter attack, leading it himself and arranging for it to be supported by his Carrier Platoon.

    This counter attack was entirely successful and the positions on the Canal were regained and the morale of the men of these units restored. 2/Lieutenant JONES then fetched up ammunition and organised the evacuation of the wounded. By his prompt and determined action and his leadership regardless of enemy fire he undoubtedly saved a situation which would otherwise have had disastrous results.

    His coolness and conduct was an inspiring example to all.

    Previously on 29th May he showed equal gallantry fetching in the bodies of Lieutenant-Colonel LLOYD and Captain JEFFREYS from a street in FURNES, despite being under enemy small fire at very short range.

    Awarded M.C.
    Date of Announcement in London Gazette: 11 July 1940
    [N.B. Original document shows V.C. was scored out. Not known if this was a simple typo or if the award was downgraded at some stage during the approval.]

    From The Grenadier Guards, vol. 1, Patrick Forbes:
    Pg 38
    It was then that the 2nd Battalion suffered a culminating blow. Their Commanding Officer, Lieut.-Colonel J.A. LLOYD, Major H.D.W. PAKENHAM and Captain C.J.D. JEFFREYS were shot by a sniper in the streets of FURNES. Colonel LLOYD was killed outright, and the two other officers severely wounded and left lying within seventy yards of a German fortified house. It was Lieut. J.A.P. JONES, M.C., assisted by Majors BUSHMAN and KINGSMILL, who recovered their bodies at very great risk, but both officers died of their wounds.
    [Major Kingsmill is mentioned in post no. 17 of this thread]

    Post below quoted from
    Furnes/Veurne town centre looking at St. Walpurga Church

    Furnes was another key stronghold as far as the BEF were concerned; if this town fell the Germans would be on the Eastern beaches of De Panne in a matter of hours.

    The town square in Furnes where many soldiers used cellars for cover for the heavy artillery barrage

    This time the unenviable task of holding the line was given to 1st and 2nd Grenadier Guards. They were receiving news that the South Lancs and East Surreys were struggling to hold the perimeter around Neiuport and new it would only be a matter of time before they felt the full weight of the German advance like their sister regiment had on the 'Canal Perimeter'. They were already being subjected to sporadic shelling and as they arrived to take up positions in Furnes so were advanced elements of German units.

    Signalman George Jones of 1st Bn GG recalls taking up positions on one side of the canal and the Germans taking up theirs on the other side at the same time.

    German snipers took up positions around the canal to make movement in Furnes hazardous to say the least.

    The Grenadier Guards Eastern perimeter where the Germans took up postions on the right side of the canal.

    Lieutenant Colonel Jack Lloyd, CO 2nd Bn GG had to recce the canal area with two of his Company Commanders to pace out what was their sector and help the CC's place their Coy's. As they approached the canal footpath they were advised by a Royal Engineers Sergeant not to go any further as the area was prone to sniper fire. The officer waited for an uneventful 5 minutes and decided to proceed. No sooner had they moved forward, three shots rang out in quick succession and all three officers fell to the ground.

    This spot is believed to be the location where the three officers were shot.

    Acting on adrenaline 2nd Lieutenant Jack Jones dashed forward under heavy machine gun and rifle fire and carried the CO back to a nearby house, unknown to him he was already dead. No sooner than he laid him down he rushed back a further two times to get the two Company Commanders -Major Pakenham and Captain Jefferys. As the firing increased across the canal it became so intense that the units stretcher bearers found it impossible to reach the building. Jones was joined by several other officers and the men we eventually extracted through the back of the house.

    St. Walpurga's Church Close where the officers were first buried at the rear of the church.

    Now what happens next is a bit grey.....It was believed that all 3 men died in Furnes and were initally buried in the back yard of St. Walpurga's Church and were later buried in the Furnes cemetery.

    Veurne Cemetery

    *However only two of the three officers can be found in the cemetery but there is several graves marked 'known unto God' so there is a possibility that Pakenham could lie in one of these graves.
    Further research by other members on the forum have revealed he is remembered on the Brookwood Memorial and there seems to be some news to suggest he died of wounds and was buried in the UK.

    :poppy: http://www.cwgc.org/search/certificate.aspx?casualty=2775065 :poppy:
    Lieutenant Colonel J A Lloyd

    :poppy: CWGC :: Certificate :poppy:
    Captain C J D Jeffreys

    As the fighting around Furnes intensified most of the town was now a mass of rubble and the Guards were holding their positions in cellars, at the time what seemed the only safe place to be. However some still braved the artillery to move around from one location to another like the Guards Padre Rev Philip Wheeler who gave communion to the soldiers in their positions.

    Around 1300hrs on 31st May the defensive line was breached on the left flank. This was being held by a much depleted 'ad hoc' unit of Berkshires and Suffolk’s. The Coldstream reserves stabilized the situation but the Germans kept pressing home an attack in this area attempting to exploit the lines weakness. Eventually some 20 Germans managed to cross the canal and started sniping at the defenders. This was soon stopped by a rather brave Lance Corporal who led a section attack on the German position and killed them all at the cost of only one man slightly wounded.

    The area subjected to many attacks by the Germans on the Eastern Flank of the Grenadier Guards.

    Morale had now reached a all time low as was evident as a distressed Sapper ran into 2 GG's HQ and told Major Richard Colvin now the GG's CO that the left flank was breached again and Germans were coming across unopposed.

    Now with a more modern swing bridge

    2nd Lt Jones was sent to get a sit rep and found elements of the Berkshire, Suffolk’s and 246 Field Company, Royal Engineers were about to retreat. Jones attempted to rally the men but when they broke away again under more fire he shot some of the men and Jones's NCO's turned others around at the point of the bayonet. Jones then led the men in a counter-attack back which resulted in re-establishing the line and moral was greatly increased. Jones was awarded a Military Cross for his actions.

    This is believed to be where Lt. Jones led the counter attack that earned him a Military Cross.

    Later that day in the afternoon the garrison received orders to withdraw to the beaches at 2200hrs. Due to the lack of fighting spirit at night by the Germans the Guards were able to successfully withdraw under the cover of darkness.
    *Some confusion arose in relation to the commemoration of Major Pakenham as he was mentioned in Roll of Honour as Died of Wounds, Furnes, BEF, yet commemorated on Brookwood Memorial and not in France. Thanks to Chris Harley's efforts not only has Major Pakenham's grave has been confirmed as being located in the grounds of Gartree Church in Co. Antrim but the CWGC records have also been amended accordingly.
    See post 38 on this Brookwood thread as well as this Pakenham thread
    The Times, Jun 05, 1940; OBIT

    The Times, Jun 08, 1940; PERSONAL TRIBUTE

    The Times, Jun 08, 1940; FUNERAL

    Attached Files:

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    The National Archives | DocumentsOnline | Image Details
    3rd Division
    867330 Serjeant H. MITCHELL, DCM, 2nd Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS, 3rd Division

    This N.C.O. commanded a Platoon on the extreme left of the Brigade Sector near FURNES.

    During 30th May, troops further to the left were seen to be retiring from the Canal Bank, consequent upon very heavy shelling and the loss of all their Officers.

    Serjeant MITCHELL proceeded from his position to intercept those troops and by his determination and posers of leadership led them back to their positions.

    He then took charge and distributed ammunition and collected wounded, walking along the Canal Bank regardless of enemy fire.

    His initiative and gallantry undoubtedly restored a very difficult situation.
    LG 22 October 1940

    Attached Files:

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    The National Archives | DocumentsOnline | Image Details

    3rd Division
    Captain W.H. KINGSMILL, 2nd Battalion, GRENADIER GUARDS

    Two Ammunition Trucks had been brought up to issue ammunition to Companies, and were parked in the courtyard by Battalion H.Q. These lorries were set on fire by shells, and H.E. Mortar Bombs and Grenades were in great danger of exploding.

    Captain KINGSMILL without hesitation ran to the nearest truck, took out the fire extinguisher, and eventually succeeded in putting out the fire.

    Without his prompt action the lives of many in the vicinity would have been endangered.

    Awarded M.C.
    Date of Announcement in London Gazette: 20 December 1940

    From The Grenadier Guards, vol. 1, Patrick Forbes:
    Pg 38
    It was then that the 2nd Battalion suffered a culminating blow. Their Commanding Officer, Lieut.-Colonel J.A. LLOYD, Major H.D.W. PAKENHAM and Captain C.J.D. JEFFREYS were shot by a sniper in the streets of FURNES. Colonel LLOYD was killed outright, and the two other officers severely wounded and left lying within seventy yards of a German fortified house. It was Lieut. J.A.P. JONES, M.C., assisted by Majors BUSHMAN and KINGSMILL, who recovered their bodies at very great risk, but both officers died of their wounds.
    See also post 15 above

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  20. battleofassche

    battleofassche Well-Known Member

    Does anyone know the location and date in May for Capt. Kingsmill's action with the ammo trucks?

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