10th Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry, War Diary July 1940
2nd July 1940
Guard duties at St. EVAL Airfield were carried out by D Company of the Battalion, under the command of Captain Morrison, supported by 58th L.A.A Battery, 1 Section of Field Artillery (from the New Practice Camp, Okehampton) and a small party of men from the 10th Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment.
3rd July 1940
Lt. Col. Marley M.B.E., T.D. was awarded the D.S.O.
Captain A.W.L. Lawn was attached to the 11th Battalion.
6th July 1940
A warning order was received at 03:00 hours for the Battalion to be prepared to move by 12:00 hours. The CO, Adjutant and a reconnaissance party proceeded to Brigade HQ for a conference at 08:30 hours and Orders were issued for the Battalion to take up defensive positions on the coast from EXMOUTH to TORQUAY inclusive.
The Battalion left OKEHAMPTON at 1300 hours by special train. A Company was left at DAWLISH, B and HQ Companies at TEIGNMOUTH and Battalion HQ at NEWTON ABBOTT. C Company carried on by ordinary train to TORQUAY. Company Commanders made a preliminary reconnaissance of the coast.
7th July 1940
At 03:00 hours D Company arrived at DAWLISH from their duties at St EVAL aerodrome.
Companies were given details of the coastal stretches they were responsible for between a point to the left of Oddicombe Beach up to the River EXE. (In the detailed Operation Order No.2, issued later, the boundary was defined as the Golf Links and the River Exe.)
8th July 1940
The PLYMOUTH detachment under 2/Lt Watkins arrived at 08:00 hours and was billeted at SHALDON and TEIGNMOUTH.
9th July 1940
A new Road Control Company was formed by 70th Brigade. Captain C.R.M. Hutchinson was placed in command, assisted by 2/Lt Pattullo.
Two more Bren Carriers arrived from Brigade and 2/Lt Seymour assumed command of the Carrier Platoon HQ. (The various War Diaries make references during this period of heightened tension to the commendable speed with which extra weapons, equipment, vehicles and ammunition arrived for the use of the Brigade.)
Battalion Headquarters moved from NEWTON ABBOTT to BISHOPSTEIGNTON.
10th July 1940
10 new Officers were posted from the Regiment’s Infantry Training Centre at Brancepeth as follows:-
Captain C. Deane
2/Lt G.M. Adamson
2/Lt P.A.S. Brown
2/Lt R.V. Dinnin
2/Lt I.R.F. Ferguson-Innes
2/Lt J.R. Mackie
2/Lt J.W. Robson
2/Lt J.G. Shield
2/Lt H.M. Wares
2/Lt Fred Watson (the War Diary entry referes to L Watson, but this is believed to be a typing error).
11th – 13th July 1940
The Battalion was engaged in the construction of Defence Works along the seafront. (It is hoped that, using the Archive of the Defence of Britain Project, together with local information, it may be possible to identify the structures constructed by the Battalion.)
Captain McCoy assumed command of MACFORCE – made up from A Company of the 11th Battalion and C Company of the 10th Battalion.
14th July 1940
Exercises were carried out at DAWLISH, TEIGNMOUTH and TORQUAY, in conjunction with the Local Defence Volunteers.
15th July 1940
A Brigade 24-hour Exercise began at 15:00 hours.
17th July 1940
Operation Order No.2 issued – for details see the end of this page.
18th July 1940
A draft of 58 Other Ranks from the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, arrived at DAWLISH. (Thanks to the help of Lesley Frater and her colleagues from the RNF Museum in Alnwick Castle, these men have almost all been individually identified and included on the 10th Battalion database.)
21st July 1940
C Company were relieved at TORQUAY by B Company, 1st Tyneside Scottish. (This led to a revision of the Operation Order No.2 on defending the coast.) C Company then took over the HQ Company position at SHALDON and HQ Company came into reserve at BISHOPSTEIGNTON.
Three more Bren Carriers arrived.
Lt. QM J. Oldham M.C. relinquished his appointment as Quartermaster and took over command of HQ Company. One Platoon of HQ Company went into reserve at SHUTTERTON.
22nd July 1940
A new mobile force was created, named WATTYFORCE, consisting of the Carriers and the Mortar Platoon under the command of 2/Lt Watkins.
23rd July 1940
24th July 1940
The G.O.C. South Western Area, Major General Allfrey, inspected the Battalion.
25th – 27th July 1940
Exercises and defence work were carried out along the coast. Pillboxes were erected at SHALDON, TEIGNMOUTH, DAWLISH and DAWLISH WARREN.
Captain A.W.L. Lawn was posted to the 11th Battalion, having been attached to them since earlier in the month.
28th July 1940
An exercise of the TEIGNMOUTH defences was held.
29th July 1940
A Motorcycle Platoon was formed under the command of 2/Lt Mackie – (a further attempt to increase the inherent mobility of the Unit).
Operation Order No. 2 SECRET
Set out again in the standard British Army format, this document was issued on 17th July 1940 and subsequently revised slightly to take account of troop movements within the defended area.
INFORMATION – ENEMY
May attempt landings on the coast in co-operation with aircraft. Raids on the coast by E-Boats.
INFORMATION – OWN TROOPS
The Battalion (less C Company) will take up a defensive position between TORQUAY exclusive to EXMOUTH inclusive. C Company will be detached from the Battalion and come under the command of MACFORCE (subsequently identified as being B Company, 1st Tyneside Scottish) on the right flank of the Battalion position, with an Anti-tank Regiment on the left flank (subsequently identified as 53rd A/Tank Regiment).
The aim is to take up a defensive position and deny enemy landings to the last man and the last round.
The position will be held by three Rifle Companies and two Rifle Platoons of HQ Company forward (they were subsequently redeployed to Battalion HQ). The detailed boundaries for each Company were set out – HQ Company from the Golf Links at ref 3588 to the River TEIGN (in the revision a few days later this assignment was given to C Company), then B Company up to the “Parson and Clerk” at 390962, then D Company up to LANGSTONE ROCK ref 408994, and finally A Company up to the River EXE.
HQ Company – less the two Rifle Platoons on the right flank – formed a Reserve at Battalion Headquarters. (The later revision moved the Rifle Platoons to join their Company at Battalion HQ.)
The Order clarified that the Military were in command but that liaison with Naval and L.D.V. Commanders was essential.
All positions were expected to be well concealed and as bullet and blast-proof as possible. Road obstruction posts were to be constructed with obstacles at Vulnerable Points, with the intention that Concrete Block Houses would be created as soon as possible. Wire obstacles were to be constructed on beaches and roads.
The positions were to be permanently manned – ranging from 25% at night to 75% at dawn.
All Companies were to send out patrols by night in liaison with the L.D.V., with Observations Posts manned during the day. Each post was to have range cards made out.
Details were set out for administration arrangements – these covered supplies of rations, petrol, ammunition, clothing and equipment, medical cover (provided in this location from the Regimental Aid Post at Battalion HQ), sanitation and water.
Battalion HQ was identified as being at the Cockhaven Hotel, BISHOPSTEIGNTON. Methods of contact were to be by Despatch Rider, Car and Civilian Telephone (to that end a specific Appendix listing relevant telephone numbers was provided).
Verey pistol signals were not to be used, as. According to Appendix II to the Order, these were to be the main means of signalling the approach of the enemy from coastal patrols. Code words for each of the Companies were developed.
The Company locations were set out as follows:-
HQ Company (Rifle Platoons) – Dunmore Hotel, SHALDON – subsequently changed to Battalion HQ.
A Company – Mount Pleasant Hotel, DAWLISH WARREN.
B Company – Pierview, Den Crescent, TEIGNMOUTH.
D Company – Clevelands, DAWLISH.
Supply Point – Devonshire Garage – NEWTON ABBOTT.
Petrol Point – Hopkins and Sons, Eamont Place, DAWLISH.
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