Difference between revisions of "11th Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry War Diary January 1942"

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1st January 1942 PEMBROKE

Passive Air Defence and Fire Orders in LLANION BARRACKS were issued and a copy attached to the War Diary as Appendix A – for details see below.

6th January 1942

Captain Waistell and 250 Other Ranks returned from disembarkation leave.

8th January 1942

Lieut R.S. Dyson reported to PONTYPOOL to attend a Pack Transport Course.

9th January 1942

The Transport Officer collected the Battalion’s transport at SWANSEA.

The remainder of the Battalion’s baggage arrived, less two trucks, which are reported to be missing.

Lt.Col. J.W. Sandars arrived and assumed command of the Battalion.

Captain T.B. Walker was appointed Adjutant with effect from 1st January 1942.

13th January 1942

The remainder of the Battalion returned from disembarkation leave.

14th January 1942

11th DLI Operation Order No. 1 was issued and a copy attached to the War Diary as Appendix B – for details see below.

15th January 1942

An ENSA Concert was attended by 50% of the Battalion – not good.

The CO issued a Training Programme for the Battalion for the period 15th – 25th January 1942 and a copy was filed with the War Diary as Appendix C – for details see below.

The Medical Officer completed the medical examination of all ranks in the Battalion.

17th January 1942

A temporary Operation Order for the Battalion Mobile Column was issued and a copy filed with the War Diary as Appendix D – for details see below.

An RSM’s parade took place.

18th January 1942

An Advance Party, under the command of Lieut Waggott, proceeded to PONTYPOOL. 2/Lieut Howell completed the move on 18/19th January. Information on the move is contained in Appendix E to the War Diary – for details see below.

Lieuts. Bruce and McNichol attended lectures given by South West District at CARMARTHEN.

20th January 1942

A Mobile Column Scheme, with C Company and the Reconnaissance Platoon, was organised.

Night Schemes were undertaken by all Companies.

21st January 1942

Major Humphreys and Captain Smallwood returned from leave. Major Hamilton, Captains Lang and Kirkup returned to the Battalion from the Winter Warfare School, Iceland.

The Garrison Fire Committee arrived this morning and delighted themselves with a fire call. The Passive Air Defence Officer produced the necessary hypothetical fire!

23rd January 1942

The Battalion proceeded to PONTYPOOL for Mountain Warfare and Animal Transport Training. This is set out on Appendix F, attached to the War Diary – for details see below.

28th January 1942

Captain Johnstone, Lieuts. Rowell and Newport returned from the Winter Warfare School, Iceland.

31st January 1942

During the first week at PONTYPOOL the Battalion concentrated on acquiring the arts of animal transport loading. By the end of the week the Battalion was quite efficient in this capacity, and ready to commence Schemes with the animals.

Appendices attached to the 11th DLI January 1942 War Diary.

Appendix A – Fire Orders – issued 28th December 1941.

This document set out the arrangements for dealing with fire incidents at LLANION BARRACKS and covered the following subjects:-

Part 1 - Precautions against fire. The relevant Fire Area included LLANION BARRACKS itself, HUT BARRACKS, Royal Engineer, Royal Army Ordnance Corps and Royal Army Service Corps premises in Pier Road and Hobb’s Point, including the Pier Master’s Quarters.

Fire Appliances. The Permanent Staff at the Barracks included an NCO in command of the Fire Station who was responsible for the upkeep of all appliances. Fire Buckets were to be maintained full of clean water and distributed around the area. A supply of sand or dry earth was to be maintained close by petrol, oil and paint stores. The fire equipment – trailer pump etc – was housed in the Fire Station shed next to the coal yard, with a key kept in the Guard Room and access to an emergency key. Fire boxes containing equipment were located around the Barracks.

Fire Alarm. In LLANION BARRACKS this would be sounded by bugle whereas in other areas a gong or bell would be used, the signal then being repeated by the duty bugler. A note was to be made of the identity of anyone reporting a fire.

Fire Duties. The Fire Cordon Party consisted of an Officer and twenty men. The Fire Picquet Party included one NCO and twelve men. The Fire Watch consisted of an NCO and six men. The fire-fighting party consisted of the NCO in command of the Fire Station plus the Regimental Police. This NCO, under the guidance of the Passive Air Defence Officer was to ensure that all these personnel had the relevant training.

Part 2 – Action to be taken in the event of a fire. On discovery it was expected that the man concerned would warn those nearby, and the Guard Commander, and attempt to put out the fire. The Guard Commander was responsible for sounding the Fire Alarm and turning out the Guard, then notifying the Orderly Officer, Passive Air Defence Officer, RSM and the CSM of the Duty Company. He would also open the by-pass valve situated near the gymnasium using the key from the Guard Room.

The fire-fighting party would collect the trailer pump and make their way to the fire, and would use any equipment in the wall boxes close by. The Fire Picquet Party would double to the scene of the fire and try to extinguish it or limit its area of coverage using all available means. The Fire Cordon Party, who would be armed, would prevent anyone other than the Fire-Fighting and Fire Picquet Parties from approaching the scene of the fire. Quartermaster’s staff and MT personnel would go to their workplaces, close windows, doors etc and remain on duty until dismissed. All those not required for duty in respect of the fire would muster on the Company Parade Ground, unless an Air Alert was in force, when they would remain under cover. The senior man would detail an NCO to report to the senior NCO at the scene of the fire, collect fire buckets and have them taken to the fire and send an NCO and four men to each of the Company Barrack blocks to close all doors and windows. Those parties would remain at those buildings and await further instructions.

The Provost Sergeant would organise traffic control and prevent any civilian entry into the barrack area. The Pioneer Sergeant would turn off any gas cocks in the area. Troops out of Barracks would return at once. Should further assistance be required the order of calls would be firstly to the RAF at the Dockyard (the Sunderland seaplane base) for the use of their Motor Fire Pump, then the Pembroke Dock Fire Brigade – who would assume command of the scene if they were requested to attend. The alarm would be sounded in No 2 Fire Area.

It will be appreciated that many of these arrangements were put in place to prevent looting and the possible theft of arms, stores and equipment during the chaotic circumstances of a fire.

Attached to the Fire Orders was a copy of the Passive Air Defence Scheme – which dealt with protection of personnel and property against:-

High Explosive or Incendiary Bombs.

Gas attack.

Machine Gun fire from the air.

Landing of troops by parachute, or in troop-carrying aircraft.

There were five Posts established – No 1 would be manned daily by the Duty Company during daylight. Posts 2 to 5 would be manned on receipt of an Air Raid Alarm. Maps of the Posts and the location of slit trenches were held by the P.A.D. Officer.

The document set out the various Air Raid warnings and the action to be taken on each.

Each Company had a designated NCO who acted as Air Raid Warden, after the appropriate training. A Gas Cleaning Centre had been established in the Militia Huts, and this would be manned by an NCO and three men of HQ Company, with each Rifle Company having a reserve of men designated.

The Decontamination Centre was situated in the garage by the coal yard, manned by an NCO and two men of No 5 Platoon, while, again, each Rifle Company had a trained reserve available. A Gas Reconnaissance Patrol of an NCO and two men would also be available to check the area after a heavy gas attack.

A Rescue Party was formed from the Pioneer Platoon – one NCO and six men – who would report to the Command Post if an Alert was sounded and stand ready to extricate persons trapped, or handle road clearance.

A First Aid Post would be established in the Military Hospital and controlled by the Regimental Medical Officer, who would report there on an Alert being sounded, together with an NCO and six stretcher-bearers. The remaining stretcher-bearers would stand ready to report to the Aid Post. All walking wounded would report to the R.A.P. while stretcher cases would be taken to the C.R.S. In an emergency, the Garrison Medical Officer had access to two ambulances.

Arrangements were made for alternative supplies of lighting, water, cooking and accommodation should these be damaged in an Air Raid. The Provost Sergeant and his Regimental Police would carry out general fire observation and monitor lighting restrictions.

After an attack, the P.A.D. Officer would carry out a reconnaissance to make an assessment of; the number and type of rescues to be carried out, the location of any unexploded bombs, gas contamination and any danger from damaged buildings.

The appendix was accompanied by a table listing the warning signals and the action to be taken accordingly. Anti-aircraft Posts were to be manned by day and fire opened on identified enemy aircraft below 2,000 feet. Each pair of sentries would be on duty for an hour. A Fire Watch would be detailed each day by the Duty Company, and they would attend Guard Mounting and also watch for fires in the Pembroke Dock area. The location of their posts was identified.

Appendix B – 11th DLI Operational Order No 1 – issued 14th January 1942.

This document described the Battalion’s role as part of the CARMARTHEN Sub Area Mobile Reserve under the command of 70th Infantry Brigade. This role involved both defensive action in respect of the PEMBROKE DOCK area but also the possibility of offensive action against invasion attempts at EAST BLOCKHOUSE and ANGLE AERODROME.

The Order of March and the composition of the Battalion as a Mobile Column was set out in a short appendix to the document.

This note specified that the Mobile Column would consist of an Advance Guard, provided by B Company and lead by the Company Commander, supported by a Section of Carriers, a Section of the Mortar Platoon and a Section of the Anti-Aircraft Platoon.

The Advance Guard would be followed by the Reconnaissance Platoon, then Battalion HQ with the Despatch Riders, the remainder of the Carrier Platoon, two Sections of the Anti-Aircraft Platoon and the Commander of C Company.

Next in line came C Company, then HQ Company, less the detached details, and finally the Rear Guard commanded by the Company Commander of D Company, the D Company troops and the remaining Section of the Anti-Aircraft Platoon.

This left at the Barracks, as the troops available for Local Defence, A Company, supported by:-

Pioneer Platoon – less one Section.

Quartermaster and his staff.

Orderly Room Sergeant and two Clerks.

Two Sanitary Other Ranks.

Three Signallers.

Armourer and Shoemaker.

Company Quatermaster Sergeants and Cooks.

Officers’ Mess Staff.

Drivers of vehicles left in Camp.

Post Corporal.

Sergeants’ Mess Staff.

Chaplain and Batmen.

Two stretcher bearers.

Details of the relevant Code Words and the action to be taken were given.

Particular mention was made of the need to ensure that as many of the Battalion’s vehicles as possible were available and fit for use. On the issue of the Order “Stand To” six 30cwt troop-carrying vehicles would report to both B and C Companies, but would not be loaded until the Order “Action Stations” was given.

On the receipt of that order, one day’s reserve rations would be drawn, troops would carry their emergency ration on their person, vehicles would be filled with sufficient fuel for 150 miles and carry adequate lubricants – a reserve having been created for this purpose.

Each man would carry one blanket and his greatcoat in his large pack with a second blanket handed in to Company stores. Leather jerkins would be rolled and strapped to the waist belt at the rear.

Each man carried 50 rounds of small arms ammunition with a Company reserve of 6,000 rounds. There would be 240 rounds per Thompson Gun, 200 rounds for the Anti-Tank Rifle and 1500 rounds for each Bren Gun, together with boxes of grenades number 36, 68 and 69. Water bottles would be filled.

As regards Medical Services, each Company would be allocated two stretcher-bearers – with two left in Barracks.

Any prisoners would be released from custody and returned to their Companies if “Action Stations” was declared.

Signallers would be detached to each Company by the Signals Officer, once cleared by the Adjutant, and be equipped with flags, wireless set no 18 and large S.D.S.R. Despatch Riders would be detailed by the Signals Officer to B Company, with the remainder staying with Battalion HQ.

Appendix C – Battalion Training Programme for 15th – 25th January 1942.

This two-page document set out in tabular form what each Company would be doing each day, including work on the Range, Route Marches, acting as Duty Company and Mountain Warfare Training, with RSM’s Drill Parades on two mornings each week. Over the period in question each Company was to carry out a Night Exercise on the subject of Night Attack. Several days were left to each Company Commander’s discretion as to how the time would be used.

Appendix D – Temporary Operation Order – issued 17th January 1942.

This two-page appendix set out the very detailed arrangements for the role the Battalion was expected to play in the immediate local defence of PEMBROKE DOCK – this was necessary as the area was deemed an active service zone, liable to attack from the air.

Essentially the details concerned the “actions stations” positions allocated to each sub-unit and specialist troops within the Battalion. Unfortunately the original copy in the War Diary was of poor quality, which made the reproduction equally poor, rendering the typed details much harder to read. Many of the details were those of practicality – such as the amount and location of stocks of wire for defensive purposes – as well as the deployment of troops such as the Drums.

Appendix E – Advance Party to the Training Area – issued 16th January 1942.

This Appendix set out the instructions for the small body of troops selected to establish the Battalion’s organisation and accommodation for the time spent in the PONTYPOOL area undergoing Mountain Warfare Training. Liaison was to be established with the Commander of the Indian Army Mule Company due to support the Battalion in this training.

Appendix F – Training Memorandum No 1 – issued 22nd January 1942.

This paper described the arrangements for moving the Battalion, less the Rear Party left to defend LLANION BARRACKS, by train to PONTYPOOL for their Mountain Warfare Training with Mules. Men would travel fully equipped and all G1098 stores would be taken.

Administrative matters included arrangements for pay, and ensuring an adequate number of Cooks were available to feed the Battalion while at the Training Area.

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