70th Infantry Brigade War Diary June 1944.
3rd June 1944
The weekly Field Returns of manpower for Brigade Headquarters included the Defence Platoon and the Light Aid Detachment, as well as the Officers and men working in HQ itself and various “attached ranks”.
The Defence Platoon was 27 strong in total, including one Sergeant and 3 Corporals – effectively equivalent to three Sections.
The Brigade Workshops – the Light Aid Detachment – consisted of 2 Sergeants, 2 Lance-Corporals, 12 Craftsmen and 2 Privates.
The Officers of Brigade HQ numbered 15, matching the establishment. Details of the individuals can be found on the “names database” on the Brigade HQ page.
The Other Ranks working within Brigade HQ included a Class 1 Warrant Officer, 3 Class II Warrant Officers, 1 Colour Sergeant, 1 Staff Sergeant, 2 Sergeants, 6 Corporals and 41 Privates – a total of 55 men. “Attached ranks” included; a Sergeant, 2 Corporals and 16 Privates of the Divisional Provost Company, a Colour Sergeant PT Instructor, a Corporal and a Sapper of the Divisional Postal Service, an RAOC Storeman of the RASC 482 Brigade Transport Company, a REME Corporal and an RAMC private from 187th Field Ambulance. Several men identified as “residue” or “home details” from 1st Tyneside Scottish were also present in Brigade HQ.
6th June 1944
Thetford. D-Day. Movement Orders collected from MC CAMBRIDGE and maps from CSD. Moved to Concentration Area at 22:15 hours.
7th June 1944
Wanstead. Arrived in the T.1 Concentration Area – a tented Camp, and prepared the vehicles for embarkation.
8th June 1944
9th June 1944
West India Dock. Vehicles and troops were loaded into S.S. STANRIDGE (Captain Phillips) and the Brigade Commander and his HQ sailed.
10th June 1944
River Thames. The S.S. STANRIDGE sailed at 02:00 hours for the anchorage at SOUTHEND.
11th June 1944
At sea. The ship sailed in convoy at 05:00 hours, passing the Straits of DOVER at noon under cover of a smoke screen. There was no opposition and the Brigadier landed.
12th June 1944
Baie le la Seine. The ship arrived at ARROMANCHES LES BAINS at 07:00 and anchored.
13th June 1944
Remained loaded at anchor.
14th June 1944
The first craft disembarked with a wet landing at 12:00 hours on JIG BEACH at Le HAMEL. This first element of Brigade HQ arrived at the Concentration Area at BRECY reference 881780 at 15:00 hours and then moved to the area of Ducy-St-Marguerite reference 850746 at 21:00 hours.
15th June 1944
Ducy-St-Marguerite. The remainder of Brigade HQ landed and completed concentration. 70th Brigade was placed in Divisional Reserve.
One Platoon of the 11th DLI, under the command of Lt. Bell, provided a guard for General Montgomery.
The first Brigade Intelligence Summary was completed and issued – a copy is included in the War Diary at Appendix A.
This document was expected to be destroyed by recipients within an hour of receipt – not surprisingly, as it contained the latest estimates of enemy strength and the nature and equipment of opposing units, and their likely intentions as regards operations. Several of the Patrols described in the War Diary were aimed at verifying the identities of such units – hence the importance, for identification purposes, of capturing Prisoners.
The report then went on to deal with the enemy on the Brigade’s front – thought to be 901 and 902 Panzer Lehr Regiments, with 2nd Panzer Division units further back – possibly the 2nd Panzer Grenadier Regiment. The 304th Panzer Grenadier Regiment of the 2nd Panzer Division had been identified South-East of CAUMONT. Prisoners from 26th Panzer Grenadier Regiment of the 12th SS Panzer Division had been taken that day at BRONAY.
The report commented on the defence advantages of the bocage country and added that the German troops had been briefed that they would shot on capture – reinforcing the argument to fight to the last man.
The next part of the report detailed the insignia, structure and weaponry of the enemy units – Panzer Lehr Division, including the 130th Panzer Lehr Recce Battalion, the Grenadier Regiment and the 130th Artillery Regiment, and the 2nd Panzer Division.
Mention is made in the Report of an intelligence report of the use of rocket projectiles filled with liquid incendiary fluid on another Division’s front. (This was also mentioned in a later report of the use of “oil bombs” against the 2nd Battalion, Glasgow Highlanders of the 15th Scottish Division in mid-July at ESQUAY near the River ORNE. Research in recent years had failed to turn up much concrete information on this ammunition, but in a conversation with a Senior Officer of the Bundeswehr in May 2012, part of a study tour in the area – Hill 112 - where these rounds were allegedly used, he confirmed that such mortar or Nebelwerfer rounds were in fact deployed, particularly to start fires and thereby provide illumination, during night or twilight operations. They could be seen as broadly equivalent to napalm.)
The Report concludes by summarising Allied progress since D-Day, including units being moved between higher commands.
16th June 1944
10th DLI moved forward and deployed in the area LE PONT ROC reference 8470. The remainder of the Brigade was in Divisional Reserve.
17th June 1944
10th DLI captured SAINT PIERRE reference 8568 and went under the command of 146th Brigade, while the remainder of 70th Brigade was in Divisional Reserve.
The Brigade Intelligence Officer, 138539 Captain J.W.Robson, was wounded and evacuated. Field returns were completed and a copy is attached to the War Diary at Appendix B. Information from these returns has been used to update the Brigade manpower names database. The details are almost identical to those dated 3rd June and mentioned above, with the addition of the arrival of Captain Corthor of REME on 6th June – to command the Brigade Workshops and Light Aid Detachment.
18th June 1944
10th DLI returned to the command of 70th Brigade at 12:00 hours. No change to the other Units of the Brigade.
19th June 1944
10th DLI captured an orchard South of SAINT PIERRE reference 8568.
20th – 21st June 1944
No changes to report.
22nd June 1944
Brigade Operation Instruction No. 1 was issued and included within the War Diary at Appendix C. This document set out the intentions for each of the components of the Brigade in providing a firm base to support Divisional operations. The details within the document confirmed that 10th DLI had a 17pdr troop of 217th Battery of the 55th Anti-Tank Regiment under command and that other troops of the Battery were preparing to move to the 11th DLI and 1st TS positions on the receipt of the relevant code words.
Similarly, 10th DLI also had a Platoon of the 757th Field Company, Royal Engineers in support.
The document was largely concerned with new locations and the timings of moving to them. A useful map trace of the new positions and the defensive fire tasks associated with them was also included, although for security reasons no place names were incorporated.
For full details, including the image of the map tracing, see below.
23rd June 1944
Brigade Operation Instruction No. 2 was issued and included within the War Diary at Appendix D.
This document was concerned with forecasting future operations and referred to Operation MARTLET. It was to be read alongside Operation Instruction No 1, mentioned above, and clarified the attacks by 146th and 147th Brigades which the 70th Brigade, as the then Reserve Brigade of 49th Division, was supporting. The document, which was restricted to Commanding Officers and their Second-in-Commands only, set out the units which would be supporting the Battalions of the Brigade in carrying out their responsibilities, including 2nd Kensingtons (machine guns), 757th Field Company, Royal Engineers, 217th Battery (Anti-Tank) and 24th Lancers (tanks), and detailed routes and areas of responsibility.
For a detailed description of the conduct and aims of Operation Martlet please see the account prepared by Christopher Chant and included on his Website here  by kind permission of Mr Chant in correspondence with the author. His agreement to putting the hyperlink in place is much appreciated.
For full details of the Brigade's part in the Operation, please see below and also in the account of the fighting in early July.
24th June 1944
11th DLI relieved the 7th Bn Duke of Wellington’s Regiment at area reference 8769 and again came under the command of 146th Brigade.
Lt. J Boys 156254 assumed the appointment of Brigade Intelligence Officer, in place of the wounded Captain Robson, and assumed the rank of temporary Captain. Field returns were submitted and included within the War Diary at Appendix E.
25th June 1944
Audrieu. D-Day for the breakthrough of the bridgehead. 70th Brigade remained in reserve. Brigade HQ moved to 860717 Audrieu. 1st Tyneside Scottish relieved 4th Bn Lincolnshire Regiment in the area 8871.
26th June 1944
11th DLI moved from ST. NICHOLAS FARM and captured the cross-roads at reference 886660 and patrolled Rauray. 1st Tyneside Scottish moved to the area of ST. NICHOLAS FARM.
27th June 1944
1st Tyneside Scottish came under the command of 8th Armoured Brigade.
11th DLI captured Rauray.
10th DLI moved to the Fontenay-Le-Pesnel area.
28th June 1944
Fontenay-Le-Pesnel. Brigade HQ moved to the Fontenay-Le-Pesnel area at reference 870681. 10th DLI captured the feature at reference 891649. 1st Tyneside Scottish were on BRETTEVILLETTE but withdrew to St Pierre Bretteville.
29th June 1944
No changes reported.
30th June 1944
The IWM Film Catalogue includes a short piece of cine film relevant to this operation, the description of which can be read [here] although the film itself is not available on-line.
Appendices attached to the War Diary
Appendix A - 70th Infantry Brigade Intelligence Summary No. 1
This document was headed "Secret" with an instruction that it was to be destroyed within 24 hours of receipt, and that it was based on information and higher formation Summaries received up to 11:00 hours on 15th June 1944. The document was issued on 15/6/1944.
Part 1 - A - attached as Appendix A and instructed to be destroyed within one hour of receipt.
General Report on Actions of Own Troops.
51 Division have moved around to East of CAEN and yesterday captured TROARNS.
6 AIRBORNE - is on the East of the River ORNE.
3 British Division - is still directly in front of CAEN.
3 Canadian Division - are holding the ground West of Caen.
Apart from the movement of 51 Div to the South and South-East of CAEN, little forward movement will take place in this sector. The Canadians may attack MESNIL PATRY.
50 Div - pushed forward on the East of the RIver SEULLES forward of Audrieu. 69 Brigade was relieved by 146 Brigade yesterday. The DIV is now fairly well concentrated and still in contact with the enemy on the West side of the SEULLES. Yesterday they captured LINGEVRES 8069 and their Battalions are disposed on the general line of the road Tilly-Sur-Seulles - La BELLE EPINE 7769 - . Two thrusts were made yesterday in the direction of Hottot-Les-Bagues 8266 and LE LION VERT 7964. If little opposition is encountered today they hope to get onto that general line today.
7 Armoured Div.
Did a "right hook" more or less down the AURE valley and assisted the Americans into CAUMONT and then swept East across the high ground West of BOCAGE and actually entere4d the village. Yesterday they were on the high ground TRACY BOCAGE 7957 - AMAYE 7657 - BRISQUESSARD 7459 - GRANVILLE 7664. They have now withdrawn and are firmly established on the large spur running from CAUMONT - St GERMAIN D'ECTOT 7762. 33 Armoured Brigade has now been put under command 7 Armoured Div.
1 U.S. Div is in the CAUMONT area.
(a) To secure Cristot.
(b) Strong patrols to St Pierre and occupy if possible.
(c) Strong patrols to high ground North of Fontenay-Le-Pesnel 8768.
147 Brigade - to secure BRONAY.
70 Brigade - in Divisional Reserve.
Part 1 - B
1. Enemy Situation - General
So far the enemy has committed four of his Armoured Divisions - 21 Panzer, 12 SS Panzer, Panzer LEHR and 17 SS Panzergrenadier. 2 Panzer was identified 13 June in the area BOCAGE - CAUMONT and Prisoner of War Statements and captured maps indicate that this Panzer Division was making for CAUMONT (Corps Summary 418).
709, 91, 243, 77, 346 Infantry Division, 3 Para Division and Battle Group from 6 Panzer Regiment and the remnants of 352, 716, 711 Infantry Divisions are the others opposing the allied bridgehead.
The likely build up Panzer formations, some of which are reported on the move are:-
1 SS Panzer (Antwerp), 11 Panzer (BORDEAUX), 2 SS Panzer (TOULOUSE) and 5 Para (blieved in BREST Peninsula). (Div) Infantry Divisions on the move are 319 from CHANNEL ISLES, 84 from North of ROUEN and 48 from CALAIS (Corps Summary 418).
After the initial success of the landing Germany's chance of even playing a draw became very slender. ROMMEL is a gambler and it must be clear to him that if he plays the same game as he has done in the past week he will surely loose (sic). The bridgehead stretches and his build up can scarcely keep pace with the additional call on manpower that such an extension entails. He must appreciate our effort is between CHERBOURG and CAEN. The difference in uniform tells him the boundary between the British and American forces. At this junction he hopes to strike. For such a blow he requires the best he has, say 2 Panzer, 2 SS Panzer and 5 Para Divisions (1 SS Panzer too if it can make the grade in time). To complete his plan the enemy must disguise the direction of this thrust. Recently too many obvious tank movements have been made by day, whereas the arrival of 2 Panzer Division has not been satisfactorily explained by air recce.
The attack launched by the 2 Panzer Division on 14 June at AMAYE may still be in the nature of a feint attack to divert us from the Master plan of Divide and destroy. (Corps Summary 418).
2. Enemy Situation - Own Front
The main enemy forces on our immediate front sappear still to be 901 and 902 Panzer LEHR Regiments. Further back indications are that the VILLY BOCAGE and BOCAGE areas are held by units of 2 Panzer Division possible 2 Panzer Grenadier Regiment. 304 the other Panzer Grenadier Regiment has been identified just South East of CAUMONT. 2 Prisoners of War of 26 Panzer Grenadier Regiment of 12 SS Panzer Division which has been in action West of CAEN for some considerable time were taken this morning at BRONAY.
The close nature of the country, and the presence of many "double rowed" hedges is providing the enemy with excellent grounds for the use of ambushing and sniping tactics. The enemy are fighting in a determined mannerand according to Prisoner of War statements one of the reasons for doing so is that they have been told that it they do not fight to the last man they will be shot on capture.
(a) Wooden bullets reported by Canadians are being used by snipers at close range. (Divisional Summary No. 3).
(b) Rocket projectiles containing liquid incendiary fluid have been reported on another Divisional front (Divisional Summary No. 3).
Panzer LEHR DIVISION (Tank Demonstration). Arrived in France about a month ago includes miscellaneous SS personnel.
Consists:- (source - captured document)
130 Panzer Regiment - estimated strength 1 Battalion assorted Tanks.
Panzer Tiger Company.
II/130 Panzer LEHR Regiment.
1/902 Panzer Grenadiers.
II/902 Panzer Grenadiers.
130 Panzer Recce Unit.
130 Anti-Tank Battalion.
130 Artillery Regiment.
311 Army Flak Battalion.
922 Medium Artillery Battalion (3 Troops).
Emblem - appears to be the letter "L" inside the German music sign.
130 Panzer LEHR RECCE Battalion
1 Company - ? 24 Armoured Cars.
2, 3 and 4 Companies - each 3 Platoons.
1 and 2 Platoons each 3 Sections - 2 NCO 10 Other Ranks - 4 Light Machine Guns, 2 Armoured Troop Carrying Vehicles.
3 Platoon - as 1 and 2 PLUS 2 * 81mm Mortars.
5 Company heavy -
Infantry Gun Platoon - 75mm Light Infantry Guns.
Anti-Tank Platoon - 3 * 75mm.
130 Panzer LEHR ARTILLERY REGIMENT
I Battery - 10 * 105 Gun Howitzers.
II Battery - 12 * 105 Gun Howitzers (may be self-propelled).
III Battery - 12 * 152mm Russian howitzers.
Panzer LEHR GRENADIER REGIMENT.
Consists 2 Battalions of apparently normal organisation mounted in semi-tracked personnel carriers.
2 PANZER DIVISION
Consists (source - GREEN Book)
3 Panzer Regiment.
I Battalion Mark IV.
II Battalion Mark V.
2 Panzer Grenadier Regiment
304 Panzer Grenadier Regiment
74 Panzer Artillery Regiment.
2 Panzer Recce Battalion.
38 Panzer Anti-Tank Battalion.
38 Panzer Signals Battalion.
Emblem - TRIDENT (may have oak leaves surrounding).
The Summary was signed by the Brigade Major.
Appendix B is missing from the War Diary.
Appendix C - Operation Instruction No. 1
This document was issued on 22/6/1944.
1. Issued separately.
3. 10 DLI
On receipt of code word BARRACUDA from Brigade HQ, 10 DLI will engage the enemy in area HALF MOON WOOD 851674 by fire. 10 DLI will not become involved.
4. 11 DLI
Will relieve 7 Duke of Wellington's Regiment in present positions NORTH of PARC de BOISLONDE in area 8768 coming under command 147 Brigade at the commencement of the relief, 230800B completing at 231200B.
5. 1 Tyneside Scottish
On receipt of Code Word WALRUS from Brigade HQ will move by route HERVIEU 8472 - road junction 866723 - to are Pt 103 8570 - LES HAUTS VERTS 8669. JUnction point with 11 DLI X tracks 866701.
(a) One 17 pounder troop 217/55 Anti-Tank Battery remains under command 10 DLI.
(b) One 17 pounder troop 217/55 Anti-Tank Battery concentrated on wheels area 874713 with positions recce'd in 11 DLI area moves on code word WALRUS.
(c) One 6 pounder troop 217/55 Anti-Tank Battery as sub-paragraph (b) with positions recce'd in 1 Tyneside Scottish area moves on code word WALRUS.
7. Medium Machine Guns
(a) One Platoon C Company 2nd Kensingtons remains under command 10 DLI.
(b) Company less one Platoon concentrated on wheels 874713 with Platoon positions recce'd in 1 Tyneside Scottish and 11 DLI areas, moves on code word WALRUS.
8. Royal Engineers.
Platoon 757 Field Company remains in support 10 DLI.
9. Traffic Control.
Reconnaissance Section will move area Brigade HQ.
11. B Echelon.
Remains present locations until concentrated by Brigade TO area 8473.
187 Field Ambulance remains present location.
13. Brigade HQ moves to orchard 862716 on code word WALRUS. Command Post opens on code word BARRACUDA.
The signal was timed at 23:00 hours and was signed by the Brigade Major.
By kind permission of The National Archives at Kew, reproduced below is a map tracing attached to this Operation instruction and filed with the War Diary. While places are not named, it lays out the relative positions of the units of the Brigade following the planned moves.
Appendix D - Operation Instruction No. 2
This document - issued on 23/6/1944 and headed TOP SECRET - began with the instruction that Units in the line would not retain the Instruction at Battalion HQ but that it would be kept at B Echelon.
PART 1 - OPERATION MARTLET
1. 49 Division is attacking to capture the line VENDES 8665 - Rauray 8865 on Sunday, 25 June.
2. Right ... 146 Brigade. Left ... 147 Brigade. Reserve ... 70 Brigade.
3. Phase A - Code word BARRACUDA - capture of LA CAUDE RUE 8667 - FONTENAT LE PESNEL by 2 Battalions 146 Brigade and 1 Battalion 147 Brigade supported by barrage. Zero 250415B if light morning or 250430B if dark.
4. Phase B. - Code word WALRUS - attack by Battalion 146 Brigade on North edge Tessel WOOD 8666 supported by barrage. 1 Tyneside Scottish moves area LES HAUTS VENTS 8669.
6. Phase C will be completed by 252359B.
7. 11 DLI reverts to command 70 Brigade at a time to be notified later.
PART II. Operation ILLUSTRIOUS.
1. 49 Division will secure NOYERS area 8862 on 26 June in conjunction with 15 Division on left who are advancing to establish a bridgehead over River ODON.
2. Right ... 70 Brigade passing through 146 Brigade. Left ... 147 Brigade.
3. 70 Brigade axis road Fontenay-Le-Pesnel - MONTS 8561.
(a) Establish firm base area MONTS spur 8661.
(b) Prepare to assist 147 Brigade in capture of NOYERS.
5. Probable groupings.
(a) Right ... 1 Tyneside Scottish with under command -
Platoon C Company 2nd Kensingtons.
Platoon D Company 2nd Kensingtons.
Support Platoon - Troop 17 pounder Anti-Tank.
Section 757 Field Company Royal Engineers
route VENDES 8665 - MONTS.
(b) Left ... 11 DLI with under command -
Platoon C Company 2nd Kensingtons.
Platoon D Company 2nd Kensingtons.
Section 757 Field Company and Bulldozers.
in support - Squadron 24th Lancers.
route Crossroads 867653 - road junction 867645 - LANDELLE 869625.
(c) Reserve - 10 DLI
C Company 2nd Kensingtons less 2 Platoons.
217 Anti-Tank Battery.
757 Field Company less 1 Platoon and two Sections.
(d) Under Brigade control - not to be committed without reference to Divisional HQ - 24th Lancers less one Squadron.
(a) Divisional right boundary - ex JUVIGNY 8466 - 85 grid line to road and railway junction 849599.
(b) Between 1 Tyneside Scottish and 11 DLI - all inclusive 11 DLI - Crossroads 867653 - road junction 867645 - road junction 858626 (inclusive 1 Tyneside Scottish) - Orchard 860621 - road and railway junction 861611 (inclusive 1 Tyneside Scottish).
(c) With 147 Brigade - all inclusive 147 Brigade - stream from 874656 - stream junction 875638 - stream to road and track junction 873615.
(a) SEAFIRE ... Point 124 8664 - BRETTEVILLETTE 8864.
(b) HELLCAT ... Village 850628 - LANDELLE - Point 126 8863.
(c) ILLUSTRIOUS ... MONTS - spur 8661 - NOYERS.
A Echelon will be reduced to minimum - B Echelon brigaded.
NOTE : This summary id for information of C.O.s and 2 i/c's only - and is subject to alteration to conform with events.
Method of issue - Despatch Rider. Signed by Brigade Major, 70 Brigade.
Only 15 copies were made available, of which two were for the War Diary.
70th Brigade Amendment Sheet No. 1 - filed with Appendix C.
This document was dated 24/6/1944 and included the following changes to the Operation Instructions:-
Operation Instruction No.1 - Paragraph 13 - delete the sentence "Command post opens on code word BARRACUDA".
Operation Instruction No. 2 - Paragraph 7 - "11 DLI reverts to command on completion of WALRUS".
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