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

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3rd December 1940

Very large mail arrived – mail deliveries were generally now seen as regular.

6th December 1940

The Brigade semi-finals of the Boxing competition took place. The Battalion Boxing team was to go “on tour”.

7th December 1940

With an RNVR officer in command a controlled minefield was laid across HRUTAFJORDUR.

The Platoon based at REYKIRSKOLI was intended to hold the Fjord with I Section of 388th Battery of 143rd Field Regiment, Royal Artillery.

A new Company – “Y” – of first-line reinforcements was formed at REYKIRSKOLI. (See the notes on the Reorganisation of the Battalion at the end of the November 1940 War Diary.)

8th December 1940

Heavy snow had fallen overnight – a party went out skiing.

10th – 11th December 1940

Ski training was undertaken at BALUSANDAR.

On 11th December an NCO from the Field Security Police arrived in the Sector.

(The confidential reports of these Field Security inspections are found elsewhere in the National Archives files on the Occupation of Iceland and will be referred to in more detail. They incorporate; analysis of informal conversations among the men, reading of the men’s mail – inward and outward – and comments on relationships with the local population. They remained classified for some considerable time and it is not clear when, or in what form, the findings were shared with Unit Commanders.)

12th December 1940

More gales and severe building damage.

Skiing instructors from the Norwegian Army arrived at the Battalion. (There appeared to be a Platoon-sized group of these young men posted to Iceland, who had presumably escaped from occupied Norway to join the Allied Forces.)

16th December 1940

N.A.A.F.I. opened vice P.R.I. (President of the Regimental Institute) – with English beer!

The hutted camps were given North Country names, several of which were associated with fox-hunting – Zetland, Derwent, Percy, Cleveland, Morpeth and Hurworth.

19th December 1940

Some electric lights were installed in the Borganes Camps.

21st December 1940

A local dance was patronised by the troops of the Battalion – further evidence of the thawing of relationships with the Icelandic people. (Reference has been found to the use of the term “Stulkas” as a collective noun for the young Icelandic ladies who might be expected to patronise these events.)

23rd December 1940

The Unit did well in the Boxing finals.

25th December 1940

Christmas Parade – for many the first away from home. An E.N.S.A. concert was given, and repeated on 27th December – apparently it was well regarded.

Inter-unit sports took place, including water polo. The Durham Light Infantry won the sports. (No opportunity was lost to encourage and demonstrate regimental superiority in these matters.)

The Billet Hotel at REYKIRSKOLI had the benefit of hot springs and an indoor pool. (Perhaps this compensated to a degree for the more remote location and lack of social opportunities.)

30th December 1940

A Field Firing Exercise was carried out, which included some extremely accurate rifle fire.

The Iceland Defence Scheme and the Battalion’s Operation Orders were updated. (This happened fairly regularly as Units changed locations or responsibilities and not every example has been documented as many changes were very minor, although for accuracy and topicality the alterations had to be made.)

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