10th Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry, War Diary March 1943

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For a more complete picture of activity this War Diary should be read in conjunction with the 70th Infantry Brigade War Diary for the same month.

High Wycombe 1st March 1943

The Battalion was billeted in HAZLEMERE CAMP, HIGH WYCOMBE, awaiting commencement of Exercise SPARTAN. General administration carried out during the day.

High Wycombe 2nd March 1943

Still at HAZLEMERE CAMP awaiting the start of the exercise – the day was spent in Administration, P.T., short runs and marches carried out under Company arrangements.

3rd March 1943

Entertainment given in the Dining Hall by the Battalion Concert Party.

At 23:59 hours the Battalion moved out of Camp in Motor Transport. The route followed was CHINNOR – WATLINGTON – WALLINGFORD – EAST ILSLEY – DONNINGTON.

4th March 1943

The Battalion arrived in DONNINGTON at 08:00 hours, North of NEWBURY. The Brigade took up positions on the line of the River THAMES facing South. 10th DLI, who were in the centre, with 1st Tyneside Scottish on the right and 11th DLI on the left, held an area North of NEWBURY with A Company stationed in NEWBURY itself.

At 14:00 hours A Company was attacked by advance elements of the enemy force.

By 17:00 hours A Company had been over-run and the Battalion was ordered to counter-attack.

At 17:30 hours the Battalion moved off. There was confused fighting in NEWBURY, during which time the men of the Battalion were cut off from Battalion HQ and all transport, which had remained behind in the DONNINGTON area.

At 20:00 hours the Battalion broke off contact with the enemy in order to take up a better position at DIDCOT.

5th March 1943

The Battalion arrived by troop-carrying lorry at DIDCOT.

At 14:00 hours the enemy pressed on and the Battalion was ordered to take up a new position at DORCHESTER. In the Battalion Sector, things were fairly quiet and personnel managed to rest during the day.

6th March 1943

At 17:00 hours the Battalion was warned to move, because of a serious armoured threat to the left flank.

At 20:00 hours enemy reconnaissance units appeared on the Battalion’s front. There was only slight contact.

7th March 1943

At 00:30 hours the Battalion moved by march route to LONG CRENDON, using the route CHISLEHAMPTON – STADHAMPTON – LITTLE MILTON – THAME – LONG CRENDON.

At 07:00 hours the Battalion reached LONG CRENDON and took up a position on the high ground some two miles from, and on the North bank of, the River THAME. All bridges across the river had been blown. Throughout the day and night intense patrolling was carried out.

8th March 1943

At 06:00 hours information was received that the enemy were rapidly approaching from the South.

At 12:00 hours enemy troops were observed concentrating prior to attacking. The attack, if developed, appeared to be directed at A Company. The remainder of the Battalion was given a counter-attack role.

At 13:00 hours our heavy and medium artillery broke the enemy while he was still concentrating his forces.

At 14:00 hours an enemy threat developed to our right flank and the Battalion was ordered to move to LOWER WINCHENDON, where they arrived at 16:00 hours. Intensive patrolling was carried out throughout the night.

9th March 1943

The Battalion moved at 08:00 hours to CHENDON WOOD via WADDESDON WOOD, where there was “very confused fighting”.

At 15:00 hours the Battalion arrived at the CHENDON WOOD area and dug defensive positions facing South.

At 23:00 hours the Battalion moved in transport to HOCKLIFFE. The route adopted was EDGECOTT – BOTOLPH CLAYDON – WINSLOW – SWANBOURNE – DRAYTON PORSLOW – BLETCHLEY – LITTLE BRICK HILL. The Battalion then debussed and marched to HOCKLIFFE, arriving there at 06:00 hours on 10th March.

10th March 1943

At 11:00 hours the Battalion moved to BUSHY COMMON WOOD. Defensive positions were taken up. A and B Companies were forward in Sand Pits while D Company was in reserve at LOWER WOOD.

11th March 1943

The Battalion moved to the Sand Pits – an Anti-Tank locality. A big armoured clash was expected in this area in which the Battalion had a variety of counter-attack roles.

12th March 1943

At 09:40 hours “Cease Fire” was called on Exercise SPARTAN.

13th March 1943

Maximum attention was paid to administration and resting. The Battalion marched to LEIGHTON BUZZARD to see a Battalion Eleven play an RAF Eleven at Soccer. The score was RAF 3 Battalion 2. An entertainment by the RAF and Civilians was given in the evening.

15th March 1943

The Brigade convoy left for CARMARTHEN at 07:30 hours and bivouacked for the night at HOPE END WOOD near LEDBURY.

16th March 1943

The convoy arrived at CARMARTHEN at 16:00 hours.

17th March 1943

The day was spent in administration, checking kit and stores.

18th March 1943

Lieut. D.A-E. Ker was attached to 49 Division HQ. 2/Lt I.H. Stock was to be Intelligence Officer.

A Q.M. conference was organised with A.D.O.S. regarding mobilisation.

19th March 1943

Captain D.W.A. Swannell was appointed to the command of HQ Company. Captain P.D.H. Stock was appointed to the post of Second-in-Command of D Company. Lieut. R.N. Dinnin was appointed Transport Officer. Lieut. A. Robertson was appointed Second-in-Command of B Company.

The Adjutant attended a conference at Divisional HQ where details of mobilisation were explained by a Staff Captain from the War Office (Adjutant General Infantry Branch).

20th March 1943

A Draft of 21 men arrived from 70th Battalion DLI. A War Office Memorandum ordering the mobilisation of 49 Division arrived. The C.O. attended a conference at Brigade HQ. The 49 Division was to be mobilised by 15th April 1943 and at about this time a move to Scottish Command was probable.

22nd March 1943

The C.O. made an inspection of the Camp.

25th March 1943

The C.O. held a Drill Parade.

26th March 1943

A Battalion Cross-Country Run was held. There was a Battalion knock-out competition in which HQ Company beat B Company 4 – NIL.

27th March 1943

The Battalion Rugby Fifteen played CARMARTHEN Home Guard and won by 10 points to 6. In the knock-out competition S Company beat D Company 1 goal to NIL.

31st March 1943

A Cadre began for full-rank NCOs. A patrolling exercise was held overnight on the 31st/1st April.

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