1st Tyneside Scottish June 1944
3rd June 1944
The Battalion submitted the regular weekly staffing returns which showed that their strength was 806 Other Ranks, against an establishment of 815, with 17 men carried surplus to requirements (including 15 first reinforcements, the Chaplain’s Batman and a Field Security Police Sergeant). A list of men, all assumed from the return to have been transferred earlier to the Z Reserve, whose return to the unit was particularly requested was identified on the return. These were:-
4456545 Pte Renwick R.W.
3064981 Pte Scotland R.
3060915 Pte Gallagher J.A.
2760126 Cpl Young A.
2760094 L/Cpl Christie J.
14425873 Pte France G.W.
2954477 Cpl Forgie J.
14419059 Pte Wilkinson G.
4460924 L/Cpl Beggs P.
14412284 Pte Munday K.
In respect of Officers, the Battalion was carrying two Lieutenants over establishment, and one Canloan Captain in lieu of a Lieutenant – taking their total number to 38 against an establishment of 36. The list of Officers with the Battalion on this date, with their dates of joining and the dates they assumed their current roles (to allow an appreciation to be made of the impact of combat on the Officer Group), can be set out as follows (the data giving Army number, rank, name, date of joining Battalion, current post, date of taking up post – in that order):-
41108 T/Lt.Col. De Winton 10/1/1944 Commanding Officer 10/1/1944
49903 T/Major Nicol 15/9/1943 Second in Command 15/9/1943
121066 T/Major McGregor 5/3/1940 OC A Company 11/3/1941
89233 T/Major Dunn (M.C.) 3/9/1939 OC B Company 1/3/1943
143598 T/Major Boyne 16/8/1940 OC D Company 17/9/1943
94667 T/Major Angus 3/9/1939 OC C Company 29/3/1943
138098 T/Captain Alexander 10/7/1940 OC S Company 25/3/1944
89228 T/Captain Brennan 3/9/1939 (? Post unclear) 25/3/1944
138008 T/Captain MacLagan 10/7/1940 OC Anti-Tank Platoon 1/2/1943
96157 T/Captain Calderwood 3/9/1939 2 i/c B Company 24/1/1944
137371 T/Captain Dempster 22/3/1943 OC 4 Platoon 24/1/1944
138087 T/Captain Whitehead 10/7/1940 2 i/c A Company 26/6/1943
67799 Captain Mirrielees 25/11/1943 2 i/c D Company 24/1/1944
143993 T/Captain Highmore 14/9/1940 2 i/c C Company 17/9/1943
296525 A/Captain Brown 21/1/1944 Adjutant 25/3/1944
130436 Lieutenant Salisbury 26/6/1940 Signals Officer 27/1/1942
148995 Lieutenant Paton 14/9/1940 2 i/c 4 Platoon 3/6/1943
235383 Lieutenant Buchanan 27/11/1943 OC 3 Platoon 27/11/1943
235384 Lieutenant Stewart 6/6/1942 2 i/c Anti-Tank Platoon 1/2/1943
249819 Lieutenant Carnie 10/2/1944 Duty Officer B Company 10/2/1944
249320 Lieutenant Aikenhead 6/11/1942 Duty Officer C Company 6/11/1942
249821 Lieutenant Mitchell 6/11/1942 Intelligence and Weapon Training 26/6/1943
249822 Lieutenant Wallace 6/11/1942 Duty Officer C Company 6/11/1942
265886 Lieutenant Murray 11/3/1943 Duty Officer D Company 26/6/1943
267250 Lieutenant Allan 26/3/1943 Duty Officer B Company 26/3/1943
263167 Lieutenant Hoare 26/3/1943 OC 5 Platoon 17/9/1943
269412 Lieutenant Armstrong 3/4/1943 Transport Officer 17/9/1943
224748 Lieutenant MacDonald 23/1/1944 Duty Officer A Company 8/3/1944
256532 Lieutenant McDowall 23/1/1944 Duty Officer A Company 22/3/1944
113930 Captain (QM) Manson 3/2/1944 Quartermaster 3/2/1944
227579 Captain Mellor 12/11/1942 Medical Officer 12/11/1942
CDN 115 T/Captain Gelston 12/5/1944 Duty Officer D Company 12/5/1944
CDN 71 A/Lieutenant Carter 13/4/1944 Duty Officer C Company 13/4/1944
CDN 29 T/Lieutenant Manning 13/4/1944 Duty Officer A Company 13/4/1944
CDN 95 A/Lieutenant Nicholson 13/4/1944 Duty Officer D Company 13/4/1944
200348 2/Lieutenant Frary 31/3/1944 1st Reinforcements 4/5/1944
271914 2/Lieutenant Irwin 23/1/1944 1st Reinforcements 29/4/1944
Officers attached in excess of War Establishment:-
C.F. 4th Class Chesworth 15/1/1943 Chaplain 15/1/1943
? W/S Lieutenant Shinwell (? date not shown) OIC Home Details 8/5/1944
6th June 1944
D-Day. The Battalion was confined to the Camp area.
At 0001 hours the advance party, Major Nicol and 3 Other Ranks, left for the marshalling area.
7th June 1944
The Battalion marching personnel and main body transport left Thetford in the early hours of the morning. The transport moved by march route to WEST INDIA DOCKS, London, and the Battalion was entrained at Thetford station to move to a marshalling area in Sussex.
At 1600 hours the Battalion arrived at GLYNDE, NORTH of NEWHAVEN. This is an excellent camp. The Battalion remained here until Sunday 11th June resting and being briefed for the Battalion’s role on arrival in France. Maps were issued out and every man was fully briefed.
8th June 1944
The Advance Party embarked.
11th June 1944
10:45 The Battalion moved, embussed, from GLYNDE to NEWHAVEN. There, together with 10th DLI, we were embarked on to LCI's (large). These craft were full of rations and everyone did very well – particularly A Company on an American craft. The M.O. issued out the sea-sickness pills.
23:00 The small convoy of about six LCI(L)s moved out unescorted. The sea was choppy but as the night went on the sky cleared and the stars lit up the water. There was only one “scare” when several flares appeared from nowhere.
23:30 The Advance Party landed in France, EAST of LA RIVIERE on the Normandy coast and moved to the concentration area.
12th June 1944
About midday the main body arrived offshore between LA RIVIERE and LE HAMEL. The coast was packed with craft and ships of all kinds. We disembarked at about 15:00 hours, the luckier completely dryshod, but some wading ashore up to their necks. Then we marched to the concentration area via the beach assembly area. It was a very warm day and, laden as we were with kit, it was a trying six or seven miles.
18:00 hours. We arrived at the concentration area at ESQUAY-SUR-SEULLES. The advance party had marked out the camp area.
13th – 15th June 1944 ESQUAY-SUR-SEULLES
During the next two or three days the transport arrived. We had little to do except to keep as much in the picture as we could.
15th June 1944 ESQUAY-SUR-SEULLES
09:00 hours. Owing to the piling up of new formations behind, and the fact that we were not to be used in our original role as the advance guard, we had to move to a new concentration area, in area 8472, south of Ducy-St-Marguerite.
In Ducy-St-Marguerite we were thoroughly organised and in the picture.
17th June 1944 Ducy-St-Marguerite
14:15 hours. The Battalion came under orders to move at half an hour’s notice but this was later cancelled.
The weekly strength state was submitted – the differences from that noted for the 3rd June were that the number of Other Ranks against the 815 Establishment was 796, leaving 1 Sgt, 6 Cpls and 12 Privates short of the numbers required for full strength.
The only infantryman listed as needing to be returned to the Battalion was 4458273 Pte Campbell R.
Unfortunately the copy of the Officers’ Return for this week was so faded that it was impossible to decipher. Efforts will be made to acquire a better copy.
22nd June 1944
14:00 hours. We sustained our first fatal casualty. Pte BEAT of the Anti-Tank Platoon was recorded in the War Diary as having been killed by shellfire at map reference 855730.
24th June 1944
The weekly return of manpower showed a strength of Other Ranks of 792 – meaning 23 reinforcements were needed to bring the unit up to establishment. There were three men listed as being required to be returned to the Battalion. In addition to Pte R. Campbell from the previous week, these were 14424764 Pte Macaulay A.E. and 4456291 Cpl Proctor R.
Unfortunately the copy of the Officers’ Return for this week was again so faded that it was impossible to decipher.
25th June 1944
12:00 hours. The Battalion moved forward to area 8760, LE HAUT D’AUDRIEU, to establish a firm base as part of the Brigade while a Divisional attack went in on Fontenay-Le-Pesnel (reference 8757).
20:30 hours. The CO went to a Divisional Conference where a plan was made for an attack on Rauray with a start line behind Tessel WOOD. The Battalion came under the command of the 8th Armoured Brigade for the purpose of this attack.
26th June 1944
05:00 hours. The Battalion formed up on the F.U.P. (Forming-up Point) WEST of Tessel WOOD. We were to attack with 4th/7th Dragoon Guards in support, our right flank protected by the 12th King’s Royal Rifle Corps. The 24th Lancers were to push ahead to the objective.
06:50 hours. The attack began. Owing to the close nature of the country the Battalion was formed up with only one Company up. The intention was to press forward to Rauray and consolidate there in a box.
The other Companies were deployed behind each other ready to be used as required.
A Company was leading, followed by B Company, C Company, D Company and Battalion HQ. The Battalion Tactical HQ moved behind A Company.
C Squadron 4th/7th Dragoon Guards moved in support of A Company.
From the start line A Company and the Dragoon Guards were engaged by enemy tanks and snipers. The close country helped the enemy’s defence. Within the first two hours Major McGregor and Capt Whitehead were wounded. Mr McDowall was killed indicating a target to our tanks. Mr Manning took over A Company and the Company pushed forward again.
At about midday B Company was pushed through A Company. Our tanks found it impossible to get on, as PzKpfw VI Tigers were in hull down position on the other side of the River SEULLES. In spite of this, one platoon of B Company, under Mr Allan, managed to cross the stream, but was pinned down by fire.
16:00 hours. It was decided that in view of the impossibility of passing tanks over the river, the operation should be brought to a conclusion. Therefore, the Battalion was withdrawn and moved to our last area at LE HAUT D’AUDRIEU.
In this operation, one Officer was killed and 3 were wounded. Mr McDonald had only minor injuries and was able to carry on. 6 Other Ranks were killed and 42 were wounded. Most of these casualties were in A Company which sustained the brunt of the fighting.
Mention should be made of Sgt Smith of A Company who, with a small party, pushed on to the village on the other side of the stream.
This was really the battle of LA GRANDE FERME.
That night the Battalion managed to get a good night’s sleep.
27th June 1944
The Battalion moved to map reference 880675 south of Fontenay-Le-Pesnel and lay in reserve.
Orders were given out in the evening and the plan was for a Battalion attack with two Companies up, C right and D left with, in reserve, A right and B left. A full artillery programme was laid on, an AGRA (Army Group Royal Artillery) and four Field Regiments. The start line was from reference 873663 to reference 881664, a track.
28th June 1944
07:00 hours. H Hour was 07:00 and at 06:50 the artillery programme began. The barrage was laid very close to the start line so everyone had to keep their heads well down.
07:41 hours. The objective was reached. Opposition was very light, most of it being on D Company’s front.
12:00 hours. H Hour. The artillery programme began and the infantry advanced. Opposition was very much stronger in this phase, especially from Spandaus well positioned. The opposition was mainly on the right and it was necessary for C Company to give support to A Company.
At 14:30 hours the forward Companies reported they were on the objective and that fighting was going on in the village.
15:00 hours. About this time the forward Companies reported that they were being counter-attacked by infantry and tanks and that the position was becoming serious.
Two prisoners of war were taken and were proved to be from 3rd Company, Der Fuhrer Regiment, 2nd SS Panzer Division, a first identification.
At this stage, the fighting became very confused and continued to be so for the next couple of hours. It was decided that BRETTEVILLETTE could not be held against the strong counter-attack, and so orders were given to consolidate on a line of Tessel- Bretteville.
By 18:00 hours the Battalion had consolidated. D Company held a forward position from about 400 yards from BRETTEVILLETTE at reference 650883. This Company was strengthened by the Carrier Platoon, a Machine-gun detachment and two Anti-Tank guns.
D Company of the 4th Lincolnshire Regiment came under command and held a position astride the main road and bridge at reference 874657.
21:00 hours. By this time the situation was firm. The Companies were in position and feeding was in progress. It had been a very “sticky” day, but the 1st/7th DUKE of WELLINGTON’s on the left, and the LINCOLNS on the right now covered our flanks.
The Anti-Tank Platoon, together with an Anti-Tank troop of 217th Battery, plus three self-propelled Anti-Tank guns made our position secure.
Our losses this day were rather heavier than the first action. Mr Aikenhead of C Company was killed, Mr McDonald of A Company missing, believed killed. Six officers were wounded; of these Mr Paton, 2i/c of the Carrier Platoon has since died. Twelve Other Ranks were killed, 89 wounded and seven were missing.
At first light there was some Spandau fire from the enemy positions but this soon became quiet.
12:45 hours. The mortar platoon assisted in an artillery shoot on the wood at reference 873653 before an attack by the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry on it.
16:00 hours. Two officers and 38 Other Ranks arrived as reinforcements. They were all posted to A Company. These were our own first line reinforcements. During the day D Coy was from time to time troubled by an enemy tank which appeared at the end of the lane at BRETTEVILLETTE and shot at the Company.
18:00 hours. 11th DLI were to make an attack on BRETTEVILLETTE but this was cancelled at the last minute. The withdrawal of our forward Company to a safe position, to avoid the artillery, caused the enemy to become suspicious. The Carriers and the Company went back to their position and restored the situation. The enemy took every slightest chance to benefit by such movements on our part.
2 Other Ranks were killed, 13 were wounded, and 3 were missing.
Under the Catalogue Reference A70 59-9 within the Imperial War Museum's Film Archive is a sequence showing Carriers from the 10th Battalion DLI returning to Fontenay-le-Pesnel from the front line around Rauray, together with a Section digging-in near the Cheux-Vendes/Fontenay/Rauray crossroads with a Hitlerjugend Panther tank wrecked nearby. The wreck of an M10 Achilles Tank Destroyer of the 55th Anti-Tank Regiment can also be seen.
The description of the film can be read here though the film itself cannot be accessed on-line.
A similar piece of film - probably shot at the around same time is described [here] but in this case the film itself - which includes images of enemy casualties - is available to view online.
30th June 1944
06:00 hours. Three men came back from BRETTEVILLETTE. They had been there since the 28th June. They were Cpl Watson and Pte Young of C Company and Cpl Park of D Company. They were able to give useful information about the enemy positions in the village. They reported that some of our wounded were still lying in the farmyard at BRETTEVILLETTE.
10:00 hours. 4th LINCOLNSHIRES began to take over our positions. The Battalion moved to a concentration area behind the 11th DLI at reference 882669 – SOUTH of Fontenay-Le-Pesnel.
For a few hours men were able to rest and wash. We got four new officers. A certain amount of re-adjustment of the officer structure was necessary. Captain Mirrielees took over A Company, Captain Calderwood B Company and Captain Highmore D Company.
14:00 hours. Preparation was made for the Battalion to take over from 10th DLI who were holding the position at Rauray.
19:00 hours. The Battalion began to take over from 10th DLI. Battalion HQ, A Company, C Company and D Company were able to move into position in daylight.
B Company had to wait until dusk before moving into the forward position on ring contour 110. The Battalion was in position and fed by 0100 hours on 1st July 1944.
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