10th Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry, War Diary October 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.

During September L/Sgt George Dennis Elliott 4449688 had been posted to the Battalion, having previously served in 70th Battalion, which had now been disbanded. He made an extensive recording of his service with the DLI - held by the Imperial War Museum - and extracts from his recollections are included, in italics, from this point up until his evacuation, wounded, from Normandy in June 1944.

For the whole of this month, the Battalion has been carrying out an intensive period of training at the Combined Training Centre, ROTHESAY.

The Camp was on the Racecourse and the troops utilised the various buildings as sleeping accommodation – he was in the Tote building. Were sent to Rothesay for Combined Operations training as 49th was earmarked as an Assault Division for D-Day. Troops accommodated in billets on the shore front. His Platoon were good lads and were strict about training. The Platoon Commander was often away on short courses – Lt John Rudd MACKIE from South Shields – which meant L/Sgt Elliott was frequently in charge of the Platoon. Lt Mackie, who had originally been in the Cadet Battalion, was later killed in action in Normandy 19/8/1944 attacking a tank with a PIAT.

Hamilton 2nd October 1943

Corps Exercise BRIDGEHEAD started today. The Battalion moved up into a concentration area near SYMINGTON and spent the night there.

3rd October 1943

The Battalion was organised into boat loads and moved up to the Golf Course at TROON. The Battalion slept out on the Course.

The Platoon was taught how to use Bangalore Torpedos, hooked ladders for scaling walls and toggle ropes for getting up into trees. They trained with Landing Craft including regularly jumping in to the sea in full kit with rifle and swimming ashore – wearing a life-preserver. They spent nights on the beach near Troon to get used to the experience and learn patience. Training was concentrated. Sappers were attached to the Platoon to deal with mines and booby traps. Officers and NCOs went on Mines Courses after the training in Scotland.

4th October 1943

The Battalion moved along TROON beach in boat loads and then went inland, two miles South of TROON. The Battalion then re-organised and took up a defensive position in the area of TARBOTTOM, digging-in being complete at about 18:00 hours.

5th October 1943

The Battalion spent a quiet night with just enemy patrol activity on our front. At about 07:00 the 11th DLI, who were dug-in on our left, were attacked by a Battalion of the K.O.S.B. of the 9th Infantry Brigade, who broke through our left Company (C Company). A Company counter-attacked and suffered heavy casualties. The enemy eventually broke through on our left flank but were driven back by a counter-attack from a Battalion of Tanks. The exercise finished at about 11:00 hours.

7th October 1943

A party of Officers and NCOs left HAMILTON at about 11:30 hours to attend a Combined Operations Cadre at ROTHESAY.

8th October 1943

The Battalion Road Party left HAMILTON in the Brigade convoy for ROTHESAY at 08:30 hours.

Rothesay 9th October 1943

The Road Party arrived at ROTHESAY at 11:00 hours, having come across from the mainland in L.C.Ts. (Landing Craft, Tanks).

10th October 1943

The Main Body of the Battalion arrived at ROTHESAY at 11:00 hours.

13th October 1943

The Companies commenced Company training, which included rope-climbing, scrambling-net practice and Bangalore firing.

15th October 1943

The whole Battalion viewed Combined Operations films in the Regal Cinema.

16th October 1943

The Companies commenced Combined Operations training which included the drill for overcoming the obstacles on the enemy beaches. The drills were carried out on “dryshod” areas.

17th October 1943

Companies practised landings from L.C.Vs. on beaches. The normal drills were then carried out for overcoming beach obstacles.

18th October 1943

All Companies today practised swimming out of their depth with their Mae Wests. The object of this was to give the men confidence in their life vests.

19th October 1943

A and B Companies carried out a Field Firing Exercise in the area of GLENMORE. The exercise entailed assault landings from dummy L.C.As. (Landing Craft, Assault), overcoming beach obstacles and then assaulting pillboxes. The Divisional Commander, Major-General Barker, watched A Company carry out their assault.

20th October 1943

A, B and C Companies carried out assault landings from L.C.Vs. in the morning. In the afternoon, A Company practised boat pulling.

21st October 1943

All Companies carried out assault landings on various beaches.

22nd October 1943

C and D Companies carried out the GLENMORE Field Firing Exercise. The Brigade Commander, Brigadier P.P. King, watched both Companies carry out the exercise.

23rd October 1943

A and B Companies carried out assault landings with live ammunition on STRONE POINT. The attack was supported by Field Artillery. The Corps Commander watched D Company carry out their assault.

24th October 1943

Battalion Exercise “STONEWALL” took place in the morning. It was a Skeleton Exercise designed to test the working of Battalion HQ in the field. In the evening, Companies carried out night training with assault craft.

25th October 1943

Each Company in turn practised debarking from an L.C.I. (Landing Craft, Infantry).

26th October 1943

C and D Companies carried out the STRONE POINT Field Firing Exercise.

Brigade Exercise “STARLIGHT” started at 21:00 hours. This was a Signal Exercise designed to test the working of the Signals organisation at night. Each HQ was represented by an Officer and a Sergeant.

27th October 1943

The C.O. held a sand model exercise for all Officers and NCOs of the Battalion Group, who are taking part in Exercise “ULYSSES”, timed to take place on 29th October.

29th October 1943

Battalion Exercise ULYSSES took place in the area of KINGARTH. The exercise involved a landing from craft and then the seizing of a bridgehead. The exercise was watched by General Anderson, commanding 2nd Army.

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