10th Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry, War Diary August 1940

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1st August 1940

Lt Oldham was attached, for administrative duties, to South Devon Sub-Area HQ; the command of HQ Company was passed to 2/Lt Watkins.

3rd August 1940

Two Platoons of B Company, 1st Tyneside Scottish, moved from TORQUAY to KENTON and one Platoon to EXMINSTER, all coming under the command of O.C. 10th DLI. A 6” mortar was installed at the “Parson and Clerk” to cover TEIGNMOUTH beach.

5th August 1940

8 Vickers Medium Machine-guns were issued to the Battalion at a scale of 2 per Company. Trench stores were issued for coastal defence. (These stores – as will be seen later in Iceland - were intended to be held at the defensive positions for the use of the troops occupying them, and not regarded as issued to the Unit specifically. They were likely to include wire and wiring equipment, mines and grenades – though this particular War Diary does not identify exactly what they were in this locality).

6th August 1940

Lt. Col. C.D. Marley M.B.E., T.D. – the Battalion’s Commanding Officer - was decorated by H.M. King at Buckingham Palace with the D.S.O.

7th August 1940

Lt. J. Oldham was decorated in an investiture the following day with the Military Cross.

8th August 1940

2 more Bren Carriers arrived.

9th – 11th August 1940

The Battalion was engaged in wiring work on the promenade and in constructing weapon pits. (Work is underway using the Archive of the Defence of Britain Project as well as local surveys to ascertain whether evidence still remains of the defences constructed by the Brigade during this period. Other references will be found to the scale and speed of construction in other Brigade War Diaries of the period.)

12th August 1940

A draft of 125 Other Ranks arrived, posted to the Battalion from the Infantry Training Centre, Northern Ireland. (It is thought that this would have been Holywood Barracks.)

13th – 19th August 1940

Pillboxes had gradually been constructed along the Battalion front and all were now nearing completion. They were erected at the following places:-

SHALDON – two.





20th August 1940

Nine bombs were dropped by three enemy bombers in a raid on NEWTON ABBOTT Railway Station. One bomb failed to explode. Twelve people were killed; six engines and thirty-five carriages were severely damaged, though the Station itself was only slightly damaged.

21st August 1940

8 new Motorcycles arrived for the new Motorcycle Platoon formed, under Lt Mackie, on 29th July.

28th August 1940

At 07:15 hours the C.O. was called to Brigade HQ. A Warning Order for a move of the Battalion away from the coast, with an eventual move overseas (destination at this stage unspecified) was received. The Battalion was intended to act as the Advance Component of the move.

Transport was transferred from other Units (Brigade HQ and 1st Tyneside Scottish) and now consisted of four 30 cwt trucks, seven 15 cwt trucks, two 8 cwt trucks, one 2-seater car, one office truck, one water cart (probably on a 15 cwt chassis) and 13 motorcycles, all to go to GLASGOW.

At 21:30 hours a warning was received from Brigade HQ of E-boat activity between START POINT and PORTLAND and that enemy agents might be landed. Extra sentries were posted.

At 23:30 hours another message was received from Brigade HQ that 48th Division would relieve the Battalion, which in turn would occupy the billets vacated by the incoming Unit.

29th August 1940

At 01:00 hours the Battalion’s transport, under the command of 2/Lt Morant, left for GLASGOW, with overnight stops at LUTTERWORTH, CATTERICK and DUMFRIES en route.

30th August 1940

Advance Parties of the Battalion, and of 2nd Bn the Gloucester Regiment, the relieving Battalion, were sent to CREDITON and BISHOPSTEIGNTON respectively.

Captain Jackson, Royal Army Ordnance Corps, Southern Command, arrived to assist in equipping the Unit to G1098 scale.

31st August 1940

The Battalion’s Bren Carriers and one 15 cwt truck were transported to GLASGOW by special train (almost certainly using flat cars).

The movement of the Battalions was completed, and operational control of the area of responsibility was handed over to 2nd Battalion of the Gloucester Regiment at 10:30 hours.

(The details of the movement of the Battalion to CREDITON were covered by a Movement Order, included within the War Diary, which sets out the practicalities of the change-over. The move was carried out in two phases, largely by the use of buses. The trench stores, referred to earlier, included the Maxim and Vickers Guns, spares and ammunition, Emergency Rations and Petrol Bombs. Specific mention was made of allotting a bus to transport the Regimental Police and any Prisoners – presumably men under punishment – and that any vehicles unable to travel to be handed over to the incoming Unit, together with the Ambulance.)

The Commanding Officer visited the War Office. (This may have been to be given a briefing on the Iceland situation and the role of the Battalion as the Advance Unit of the Brigade.)

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