11th Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry War Diary May 1941

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1st May 1941 Hafnafjordur.

On this day the Icelanders engaged in “May Day” celebrations. All Ranks returned to Billets and Camps by 21:30 hours.

3rd May 1941

The C.O. Lt Col Ware M.C. returned from his visit to 10th DLI at Borganes.

4th May 1941

Working Parties on the Aerodrome were relieved by 147th Infantry Brigade.

Training could now take place for the Battalion, without lack of men and transport.

5th May 1941

03:30 hours. A surprise 70th Infantry Brigade Manning and 11th Battalion Mobile Reserve Exercise took place. The exercise was a total success from the Battalion point of view.

8th May 1941

00:30 hours. A surprise exercise involving the Battalion Mobile Reserve took place. Many lessons on security were brought to notice by the “parachutists”.

10th May 1941

Working Parties commenced again on the Arodrome.

The weather continued to be extremely fine; it was light for 24 hours every day.

14th May 1941

The 2nd Leave Party left for three weeks leave in the UK. Captain W.B. Kirkup proceeded on “The Administration Course” at Brockenhurst, England.

15th May 1941

There was an Exercise of the Mobile Reserve in the Hafnafjordur SUB-SECTOR AREA – the difficulty of communication was shown to be eased by the use of the No 18 Radio/Telephone set.

17th May 1941

A TEWT took place for Battalion Officers in the FOSSVOGUR area – directed by Lt Col Ware MC.

18th May 1941

Lieut Newport and 2/Lts Keymer, Grant and Cantley proceeded on a two weeks’ Course at the Force Tactical School, Reykjavik.

22nd May 1941

09:30 hours. A Battalion Exercise took place on establishing an Advance Dressing Station, Regimental Aid Post and the removal of casualties from the SUB-SECTOR. A copy of the Exercise Notes are attached to the War Diary as Appendix A – for details see below.

23rd May 1941

21:30 hours. Enemy Naval forces were known to be in the vicinity of ICELAND – extra precautions were taken in the SUB-SECTOR AREA.

24th May 1941

News was obtained of a Naval engagement in the North Atlantic between the “HOOD” and “BISMARCK”.

26th May 1941

The 3rd Leave Party left for three weeks’ leave in the UK.

2/Lt H.P. Bouchier transferred to I.T.C. Brancepeth.

Lieut H. Waggott returned from the 3” Mortar Course in the UK.

27th May 1941

A Signal Exercise took place – a “phoneless” day – set out on Appendix B attached to the War Diary – for details see below.

29th May 1941

A demonstration of Medium Machine Gun firing on fixed lines at GARDUR and Hafnafjordur was given. One slight mishap – fired on a house in error – no casualties.

31st May 1941

The Battalion Football XI defeated 187th Field Ambulance XI at the Stadium in Reykjavik with a 4 – NIL victory, and entered the final of the Force knock-out competition.

Appendices attached to the May 1941 War Diary.

Appendix A – Administrative Instructions – Casualty Exercise.

The Exercise was timed to take place on 22nd May 1941 from 09:30 hours to approximately 13:00 hours.

All the Battalion medical personnel were to take part, with the assistance of men detailed as “casualties” and a detachment from 187th Field Ambulance, RAMC.

The Exercise commenced with the establishment of a Regimental Aid Post, Sub-Unit Collecting Posts for each of the 11th DLI Sub-Units (Companies) and an Advanced Dressing Station.

The Chief Umpire was Captain Morris, assisted by Captain Waistell, Lt Rowell, and 2/Lts Dunnell and MacNicol.

Company Commanders were to take an interest in the Exercise and be prepared to make recommendations arising from the results. Captain Morris was given separate instructions (which have not survived) regarding the designation of casualties and arranging details with Companies and the other Umpires.

Appendix B – Signal Exercise.

A Phoneless Day was due to be held on Wednesday 25th May 1941 between 09:30 and 16:40 hours. The object was to practice signallers in the procedure required for Line Telegraphy and Radio Telephony, and to train Officers and Senior NCOs in the correct use of Message Forms.

During the Exercise the telephone was not to be used for speaking purposes but, instead, Wireless, the Fullerphone and Despatch Rider Liaison Services were available.

The No 18 Sets were to operate between Battalion HQ and all Companies and would open up between 10:30 to 11:30 hours and 14:30 to 15:30 hours during which periods Officers and Senior NCOs could obtain experience of Radio Telephony work.

The use of the Fullerphone brought in the use of the Message Form. It was hoped that those taking part would maintain a flow of messages and keep the Signal Office busy.

Despatch Riders would provide the normal service at 10:30, 14:30 and 18:00 hours.

The instructions were signed by the Signals Officer, Lt Sopwith.

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