11th Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry War Diary January 1943

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1st January 1943 DALTON-IN-FURNESS.

The Battalion moved by road to South Wales, staging for the night of 1st/2nd January at APSLEY CASTLE Staging Camp, WELLINGTON.

2nd January 1943 VELINDRE.

Move completed. The Battalion arrived at the new location of VELINDRE, CARMARTHENSHIRE. The move was done in bad weather but was carried through without mishap.

3rd January 1943

2/Lt Metcalfe attended an O.C.T.U. Board at Carston Manor, Watford, Herts for an interview.

Captain H. Waggott proceeded to Divisional HQ for temporary attachment on “A” Duties.

4th January 1943

34 Other Ranks went to LLANDOVERY as a Working Party for the construction of the Brigade Base Camp for Mountain Warfare Training.

5th January 1943

C Company were carrying out range classification on the PENALLY Ranges.

6th January 1943

Lieut W.L. Carr proceeded on a Course at the Mountain and Snow Warfare Centre, KINGUSSIE, Scotland.

A lecture on “Mountain Warfare” was given by the CO to all Officers and Senior NCO’s.

The Anti-Tank Platoon carried out a sub-calibre practice at the Royal Artillery Practice Camp SENNYBRIDGE 6th – 7th January.

7th January 1943

Major C.A. Smallwood proceeded to the G.H.Q. School of Infantry on the Commanding Officer’s Cloth Model Exercise – “Mountain Warfare for all Officers”.

A lecture was given to all Officers and Senior NCO’s by Major C.D. Hamilton on “The German Army in the Attack”.

8th January 1943

Major-General H.O. Curtis, Divisional Commander, visited the Camp.

9th - 10th January 1943

The Rifle Companies were carrying out classification on the PENALLY Ranges.

12th – 13th January 1943

The Anti-Tank Platoon were firing full calibre for the first time at the SENYYBRIDGE Practice Camp with excellent results.

13th January 1942

2/Lt A.D. Barlow was posted to the Battalion, from 161 O.C.T.U., for duty.

Battalion HQ carried out a Movement Exercise, directed by the Commanding Officer.

14th – 15th January 1943

The Rifle Companies were carrying out classification on the PENALLY Ranges.

16th January 1943

The Battalion Team fought 1st Tyneside Scottish in the final of the Brigade Boxing Competition, but was defeated.

17th January 1943

HQ Company were firing on the PENALLY Ranges.

In the Brigade Group Knock-out Rugby Competition, the Battalion XV beat the 10th DLI XV by 6 points to 3 at VELINDRE.

18th January 1943

Six Officers and 24 NCO’s proceeded on a Pack Transport Course run by No 32 Mule Company, RIASC.

18th – 19th January 1943

The Companies were firing on the PENALLY Ranges.

20th January 1943

The Battalion Rifle Meeting was held at PENALLY. The Winners of the Best Rifle Section Competition were the Carrier Platoon, while C Company won the Competition for Best Bren Gun Team. Details of the Competition were set out on Appendix A attached to the War Diary – for further information see below.

22nd January 1943

The Assistant Director of Medical Services from 49th Division visited the Battalion and inspected the area.

23rd-24th January 1943

A detachment arrived from No 32 Mule Company, Royal Indian Army Service Corps, and was attached to the Battalion for Mountain Warfare Training with Pack Transport.

24th January 1943

Major Humphreys, Captains Lang, Waistell, Grant and Johnson and Lt Rowell proceeded to the 49th Division Battle School on the Company Commanders’ Course.

26th January 1943

A demonstration was given by C Company of loading Mules and Pack Transport loads.

27th January 1943

Battalion Motor Transport Exercise “MONTE CARLO” took place. This is described on Appendix B attached to the War Diary – for details see below.

An ENSA Concert Party gave a performance for the Battalion in the evening.

29th January 1943

The Brigadier-General Staff from Western Command visited the Battalion.

30th January 1943

The Instructions for the re-organisation of the Battalion were issued – this was to produce a three-Rifle Company configuration and was set out in a lengthy Appendix C attached to the War Diary – for details of the reorgnaisation, see below.

The Battalion Rugby XV were defeated by 187 Field Ambulance in the final of the Knock-out Competition at CARMARTHEN by 17 points to 6.

31st January 1943

The re-organisation of the Battalion was carried out.

The Commanding Officer left on seven days’ leave. Major C.D. Hamilton assumed command of the Battalion in his absence.

Training during the month was confined chiefly to individual and Platoon training for Mountain Warfare, and especially to Range Classification.

The weather was poor but much valuable training was carried out. Specialist training continued with especial emphasis on the training of reserves, particularly drivers, and two short Motor Courses were held within the unit.

A photograph is included below of HQ Company of the Battalion at Velindre (supplied courtesy of Bruce Stillman).

HQ Company of the Battalion at Velindre

Appendices attached to the January 1943 11th DLI War Diary.

Appendix A – Battalion Rifle Meeting 21st January 1942.

This Appendix set out the arrangements and the competition details for the Annual shooting event.

Each Rifle Team was to consist of the Platoon Commander (not a firer) and twelve men from each of the Rifle Company Platoons.

Each Section’s Bren Team, plus fourteen teams from the Carrier Platoon and four teams from the Anti-Aircraft Platoon would take part in the Bren Competition.

The Rifle practice began with 5 rounds application at 300 yards, followed by ten rounds rapid fire in one minute – starting with the rifle butt on the ground and the safety catch back.

The Rifle practice continued with the Team then running to the 200 yard point, fitting respirators and fixing bayonets and then firing five rounds rapid and five rounds snap fire (presumably at moving targets). The scoring arrangements were set out (4,3,2, or 1 points depending on part of target hit, plus 3 points for each hit during snap firing) giving a highest possible score of 95 points per man.

The Bren Competition began with 20 rounds in short bursts at 500 yards, then 30 rounds (in two magazines) in 30 seconds at the same distance. The Teams then advanced to 300 yards from the targets and fired 20 rounds in bursts and 30 rounds (in two magazines) in 30 seconds. No time allowance was given for stoppages. Scoring was again linked to higher points for the centre of the target and least for outers, with an overall highest possible score of 200 per Bren Team.

The prizes were cash. Lt G.J. Powell acted as scorer, supported by the Intelligence Section. A list was set out of the Officers and NCO’s responsible for the Butts and Safety for both Ranges.

A March Table was attached showing the make-up of the three groups of vehicles travelling to PENALLY for the Competition – a distance then of 47 miles from the Battalion’s Camp at VELINDRE – a journey which would take several hours at the normal convoy speed and density. For the first time, Jeeps had begun to appear in the Battalion’s vehicle inventory.

Appendix B – Battalion Exercise “MONTE CARLO” – General instructions issued 26th January 1943.

This was a Movement Exercise planned to last from 15:00 hours on 26th January to 17:00 hours on 27th January.

The objectives of the Exercise were to:-

Practice and test Motor Transport movement and convoy discipline by day and night.

Test the reconnaissance, layout and organisation of Transport Concealment Areas.

Practice Traffic Control and marking of routes.

Lt Col J.H.N. Poett was acting as Director of the Exercise supported by several Umpires.

The troops taking part consisted of:-

Reconnaissance Parties – “F” Group - Intelligence Officer and RSM, “A” Group - Provost Sgt and Transport Corporal, “B” Group - Quartermaster, R.Q.M.S. and Transport Sergeant.

Traffic Control – Regimental Police and Signals Despatch Riders.

Protection – two Sections of the Anti-Aircraft Platoon.

Enemy – two Sections of the Anti-Aircraft Platoon.

All vehicles (other than Carriers and Mortars) not required for other duties were to take part in the exercise.

Arrangements were made for feeding in the Field.

The Opening Narrative of the Exercise implied the Division having landed at ABERYSTWYTH and ABERDOVERY and travelling South to isolate enemy forces in PEMBROKESHIRE. 11th DLI was acting as 70th Brigade’s Advance Guard and was to be in position North of Carmarthen by 03:00 hours on 27th January preparatory to making an attack. The Battalion was to leave Camp at 00:20 hours 26th January as per the Order of March and harbour at various concealment locations overnight.

The locations would be reconnoitred by the three Parties identified above at Point 125 (9745), DYFFRIN (9848) and LLAIN (972541) respectively. The Reconnaissance Parties were to rendezvous at the Transport Office for their Orders at 16:00 hours on 25th January and leave for their destinations in their own vehicles at 16:30 hours. Guides would be provided to escort the convoys to the concealment areas.

Route marking would be carried out and full protection arrangements put in place.

The second narrative assumed the capture of CARMARTHEN and the despatch of 70th Brigade North to meet enemy reinforcements landing at CARDIGAN.

Concealment areas were again identified for reconnaissance and eventual use by the three groups of vehicles and the three Reconnaissance Parties and guides were to leave the first areas at 09:00 hours and proceed to PEN RHIW 699628, GLASPARD 723586 and Point 588 731563 respectively.

The Orders to the “enemy” force were to attack or ambush the A Echelon at 05:00 hours at Point 125 9745, withdraw and then attack A Echelon again the following day at GLASPARD at 14:00 hours and B Echelon at 731563 at 15:00 hours.

The March Table for the Exercise set out the make-up of the groups of vehicles and the relevant timings and routes.

Appendix C – Re-organisation of the Battalion – issued 30th January 1943.

This was a crucial and extensive document, setting out the revision to the structure of the Battalion and the associated break-up of D Company.

Battalion HQ was to remain unaltered.

HQ Company – Commander Captain T.M. Lang

CQMS – C/Sgt A.A. Gleason

Clerk – Pte T.G. Scane

Storeman – L/Cpl J. Caveney

Signals Platoon – Lieut F.W. McMichael, 1 Sgt, 3 Cpls, 31 Privates.

Driver/batman – Vacancy.

Support Company – Headquarters - Commander – Captain K.C. Johnstone.

2 i/c – Vacancy.

CSM – CSM R Brunskill.

CQMS – C/Sgt J. Topham.

2 Driver/batmen – Vacancies.

Clerks – L/Cpl F. Harrison and one to be transferred from D Company.

Storeman – Vacancy.

3 Orderlies – Vacancies.

Carrier Platoon – Commander - Lieut J.B. Nicholson, 5 Sgts, 9 Cpls, 42 Privates.

Pioneer Platoon – Commander - Lieut G.B. Wood, 1 Sgt, 2 Cpls, 18 Privates.

Anti-Tank Platoon – Commander - Captain D.M. Grant, Lieut G.M. Dunnell, 7 Sgts, 42 Privates.

Mortar Platoon – Commander - Lieut T.H. Rowell, 4 Sgts, 5 Cpls, 32 Privates.

A Company – Commander - Major R.B. Humphreys

2 i/c – Captain T.B. Walker.

Platoon Commanders – Lieuts R. Ellison and M.C. Hebbert. Two Composite Platoons made up from existing three plus one Platoon from D Company strengthened from A plus one detachment from the Anti-Aircraft Platoon.

CSM – CSM G. Bellwood.

B Company – Commander - Captain W.H. Waistell.

2 i/c – Captain I.G. Sopwith.

Platoon Commanders – “/Lieuts A.D. Barlow and L.C. Troupe. Two Composite Platoons made up from existing three plus one Platoon from D Company strengthened from B plus one detachment from the Anti-Aircraft Platoon.

CSM – Vacancy.

C Company – Commander - Major C.A. Smallwood.

2 i/c – Captain J. Brewis

Platoon Commanders – Lieut D.F. Stephenson and 2/Lieut J.H. Cleminson. Two Composite Platoons made up from existing three plus one Platoon from D Company strengthened from C.

CSM – CSM J. Boddy.

Details of billets and the changes involved were set out.

There was a radical change to the organisation of the Battalion’s transport and this was set out on a separate Appendix to the document. The revised establishment of vehicles was as follows:-

Battalion HQ – 5 Motorcycles (4 Police, I Intelligence Section), CO’s Car, two 15cwt trucks (one Office and one Intelligence Section) and one Carrier.

HQ Company HQ – one Jeep.

Signals Platoon – 2 15cwt trucks and 4 Motorcycles.

Administrative Platoon – two Motorcycles (Transport Officer and Sgt), one 2-seater car (Quartermaster), 3 3-tonners (ammunition), 4 3-tonners (Cooks), one 3-tonner (Fitters), one 3-tonner (Armourer and technical stores), two trailers (Petrol and Water), one 15cwt truck (reserve clothing).

Support Company HQ – one Jeep and one 15cwt truck.

3” Mortar Platoon – 2 15cwt trucks, three Motorcycles and seven Carriers.

Carrier Platoon – one 15cwt truck, three Jeeps, seven Motorcycles and ten Carriers.

Pioneer Platoon – one 3-tonner and one Motorcycle.

Anti-Tank Platoon – five Motorcycles, 2 15cwt trucks and 12 Carriers.

Three Rifle Companies – each – one Jeep, three 15cwt trucks.

Arrangements were set out for closing the D Company accounts and for handing-in and redistributing stores and “comforts” such as sports kit. Leave was reorganised but existing commitments were honoured. Bathing periods were amended to ensure each man had two baths per week.

Each man or Officer transferring from D Company or the Anti-Aircraft Platoon was to take his full kit, clothing, equipment, bedding, weapon and ammunition. The Anti-Aircraft Platoon’s Bren Guns, and three surplus from the Carrier Platoon were to be handed in to stores and redistributed. Six of the Brens were to be issued to the Anti-Tank Platoon for gun detachment protection, with three being issued to the HQ Company’s Administrative Platoon’s M.T. Section. The situation of the Pioneers and 3” Mortar personnel was to remain as previously.

Stores and weapons were all to be accounted for.

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