11th Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry War Diary November 1940
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.
At the start of November, only 90 of the 116 Huts allowed had been built at Alafoss where the Battalion was concentrated. Alafoss was a bottle-necked valley near to the road about 12 miles from Reykjavik and was the Headquarters of the Force Mobile Reserve.
Extra huts were sited by Lt Col Ware and the D.A.Q.M.S. (Major Fitzgerald Lombard) and work was started by the 711 and 687 Constructional Companies, Royal Engineers. Electricity was also installed.
First tasks which faced the Battalion were the organisation of its role as the striking Battalion of 70th Brigade – the Force Mobile Reserve – and the improvement and revetting of the Camp in anticipation of major gales and snowstorms, which, however, did not materialise.
Lt T Cairns was appointed Weapon Training Officer and immediately organised a full-scale rifle range.
10th November 1940 Alafoss
At 10:00 hours the G.o.C. Alabaster Force (Major General H.O. Curtis) visited the Battalion and was introduced to all Officers. He told of his wish that all troops should take part in field firing at Kleifervatn before winter.
11th November 1940
At 11:00 hours there was a demonstration of range practices by the Weapon Training Officer.
At 12:00 hours the C.O. gave a lecture to all Officers on the subject of ICELAND and its influence on tactics. This was the subject of a note attached to the War Diary as Appendix A – for details see below.
Battalion Training Memorandum No 1 was published and a copy filed with the War Diary as Appendix B – for details see below.
12th November 1940
A revised system of manning the Coast Defence Posts came into action with the publication of Operation Instruction No 1 – a copy of which was attached to the War Diary as Appendix C – for details see below.
16th November 1940
On return from a reconnaissance to the Coast Watching Post at Pingvellir, an inland lake the size of Ullswater and the site of the first Althing, Captain C.G. Winter, C Company and 2/Lt J.R. Ennis, with a party of men, were cut off by a blizzard eight miles from camp. They were unable to use their transport and it was impossible to find their way.
Luckily, after an hour they found an Icelandic farmhouse where they were given shelter for the night. Their host was an Icelander who had served with the Canadian Army in 1914 – 18 and would accept no recompense from Captain Winter. He finally asked that any money to which the party was entitled should be given to the Spitfire Fund.
18th November 1940
B and D Companies took part in the Field Firing Demonstration at Kleifervatn with the 368 Field Battery, Royal Artillery. Details were set out on Appendix D attached to the War Diary – see below for more information.
It was never possible to complete all phases of the scheme because of the snow and cold, and both A and C Companies did not have the opportunity of firing as intended on this occasion.
20th November 1940
The issue took place of Battalion Operation Order No 5 detailing the role of 11th DLI in Iceland as part of the Force Reserve – a copy of which was attached to the War Diary as Appendix F – for details see below.
21st November 1940
This was the opening night of a series of Officers’ Debates, the supporting note being attached to the War Diary as Appendix E – for details see below.
2/Lt P.A. Johnson was appointed Ski Platoon Commander. The object of the Platoon was to provide reconnaissance parties in the event of the Battalion moving North or inland. Eighteen men were selected from the Companies and training started immediately within a mile or two of the Battalion Camp. Two Norwegian soldiers were attached as coaches.
Operational Instruction No 7 was issued on the subject of Air Raid Action and a copy attached to the War Diary as Appendix G – for details see below.
The following Officers had attended the 70th Brigade Administrative Course held in the 11th DLI lines –
Captains A.W.L. Lawn, W.B. Kirkup, T.M. Lang and C.A. Smallwood.
Captain T.M. Lang was transferred from E Company to the command of B Company vice Captain Lawn who had been admitted to 30th General Hospital with spine trouble and was evacuated to England.
Appendices attached to the November 1940 War Diary.
Appendix A – The country of Iceland and its influence on tactics.
These speaking notes formed the basis of a lecture to his Officers by the Battalion Commander and covered the ground, and tactics, and an analysis of the country, focussing on the use the enemy was likely to make of the country.
The country itself was described in the context of individual Fieldcraft, and collectively as regards Tactics. From an individual point of view the points to be borne in mind were:-
Lack of trees, bushes, hedges or ditches – or railway embankments – such as the Battalion had encountered in France, and while defending the Devon coast.
The ground was open but with much small local cover from humps and boulders with an amount of dead ground.
Troops would therefore have to learn to; use local cover, occupy fire positions in open country, set up observation posts, move in depth and on a broad front, use covering fire, study the use of dead ground and move by bounds.
As far as keeping direction was concerned, compass use would become important as star visibility was not too good, and prominent features would often be available.
Patrol movement would use dead ground on a broad front and take place by bounds.
As far as tactical considerations were concerned, operations were likely to be confined to the lowlands and the areas covered by roads. Hills would influence tactics through the use of plunging fire and good observation – defiles and passes being crucial. Boldness and speed would be essential to secure such ground. Defence would have to make use of surprise and Company Commanders would need to become familiar with commanding small mixed forces – perhaps the forerunners of the modern Battle Group?
As far as mountainous country was concerned the lessons of the North West Frontier of India were seen as relevant in principle, including keeping to spurs of ground and avoiding ravines, while the building of sangars and the use of piquetting would come back into its own.
The author, on a recent visit to Iceland, drew the attention of Icelandic National Parks staff at Pingvellir to the existence on that site of what had been Bren Gun positions housed in the remains of stone-built sangars, covering the lake. They were, of course, unfamiliar with the term “sangar” but quickly realised that, while the constructions did not meet the classic Icelandic definition of archaeology – being less than 100 years old - they should at the least be protected from tourists climbing over them – unaware of their history. The sangars, built by men of 70th Infantry Brigade, are now, thanks to the Park staff, surrounded by protective tape barriers to limit direct access.
Appendix B – Battalion Training Memorandum No 1 – dated 11th November 1940
This document started with the key observation that 11th DLI were the only one of the three Infantry Battalions in the Brigade to be concentrated in one area, so that the opportunity must not be lost to make the most use of that circumstance. The Battalion was being fitted for the time when the offensive could be taken against a determined and formidable enemy. It was essential for the offensive spirit to be developed – by such means as bayonet fighting and unarmed combat - and the initiative of sub-unit commanders encouraged.
During the winter the focus of study was to be the Infantry Battalion in all phases of the Attack. In Company exercises their transport was expected to be used, with Motor Transport movements introduced, even though distances might be short.
Officer training was to concentrate on the development of tactical knowledge. Battalion training would make frequent use of TEWTs (Tactical Exercises Without Troops), lectures, debates, model exercises and map reading – usually on one day a week. Company Commanders were to conduct frequent sand table exercises for their Officers.
A series of NCOs cadres would be run by the Battalion to improve the standard of Section Leading in the Field with reference to use of firepower and ground control.
Every Other Rank must have a sound knowledge of all his weapons.
All Ranks must be “Fit and hard and ready to carry out extended operations on hard scale and in vigorous climatic conditions at any moment” (Force Operation Instruction No 26).
Weapon Training was given special prominence with ranges allotted to Companies to ensure that every man was “weapon proficient” and would aim and fire accurately under active service conditions. Field firing was limited to Platoon and Section exercises. The basis of the training would be the Small Arms Training Pamphlet Volume 1 No 18 Range Courses (War) which would be followed closely.
Lt T Cairns was appointed Range Officer, responsible for allotting ranges and safety supervision. No copy has survived of the appendix dealing with ammunition allotment. All arms would be covered by range training, while Officers’ pistol training would come under Battalion arrangements.
A Battalion Training Cadre was to be formed under Lt T Cairns, with 2/Lt H.P. Bourchier, RSM H.T. Dunn and Sgt J.T. Clark as Instructors, supported by Storemen from E Company’s Motorcycle Platoon. The Cadre was expected to run extended courses over the winter – the first two for “full ranks” (presumably Corporals and Sergeants) while later courses would be for efficient and experienced Lance Corporals, having had preliminary instruction at Company level first.
The Battalion Intelligence Officer would run two Snipers Courses based on two ranks attending per Rifle Company from which Battalion Snipers would then be selected, who were expected to become a significant asset to the Battalion, especially in the maintenance of local superiority. This was seen as a great boost to morale, based on North West Frontier and World War One experience.
As regards HQ Company, it was seen as desirable to attach men for experience – such as Company Signallers to Royal Corps of Signals Units, Pioneers to Royal Engineers Companies, Drivers to the Light Aid Detachment, and Anti-Aircraft machine gunners to the Royal Artillery. HQ Company Commander was to draw up a suitable programme of such attachments. The Mortar Platoon was to benefit shortly from the attachment of an Instructor.
The Adjutant was to organise a series of frequent Battalion HQ exercises, indoor and outdoor, involving as many parts of HQ Company as possible – with Motor Transport problems being given particular consideration. HQ clerks were to be given additional training on taking down orders, possibly under the Brigade Major.
On a similar basis Company Commanders were to arrange specialist training for Orderlies, Clerks and Storemen – with the Quartermaster and Adjutant preparing lectures and tests for Storemen and Clerks respectively.
E Company had the task of preparing training for “First Reinforcements” noting that the former Motorcycle Platoon would largely be at the disposal of the Cadre Officer in supporting courses. Signallers, Drivers and Carrier personnel would be trained by the Specialist Officer concerned, while Rifle Company reinforcements such as clerks, runners, 2” mortarmen and Storemen would be trained under E Company arrangements. Riflemen would use borrowed Bren Guns and Anti-Tank Rifles and be trained in weapons and Section tactics.
The Memorandum stressed that the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa – the supporting Machine Gun Battalion – were keen to co-operate in Battalion exercises. The Battalion was specifically supported by No 2 Company of that unit. Any Company Commander running an exercise was expected to involve the machine gunners if appropriate and to place a Forward Observation Officer (F.O.O.) with their Company HQ. In the same vein, the affiliated Royal Artillery Unit – 143rd Field Regiment - was to be similarly brought in to exercise planning and delivery.
It was only by the use of initiative that Company Commanders and their Officers would gain experience of other arms, in which the Battalion was always weak. Carriers and Mortars were also always to be included in exercises.
Anti-Gas training was to be a regular feature, with respirators being worn during duties for at least one hour each week, and decontamination drill being practised.
Distance judging was to be built into any exercise or range work.
PT and drill periods had to be fitted into the programme and, for that purpose, indoor games would be developed for bad weather periods.
Anti-Tank Minelaying was to be taught once demonstrations had been given – presumably by supporting Royal Engineer personnel.
Route marches would feature in Training Programmes but also incorporate small tactical exercises- such as rapidly occupying a defensive position.
Night work was to be regularly included with embussing in the dark in an unknown area a regular feature.
Each week a study subject would be selected, such as; enemy aircraft recognition, aircraft co-operation, river crossings, Tank co-operation, Anti-Tank obstacles, Anti-Tank Guns, Traffic Control, Booby Traps, Mines and the Duties of Liaison Officers.
A significant section of the Memorandum was concerned with compass use and reference was made to the recent inspection report of the Inspector General of Training (Lord Gort) pointing out that every location in Iceland was likely to have its own magnetic variation. Everyone provided with a compass was to be familiar with this local variation as well as the standard variation of 28 degrees West. This had been covered in a Force Routine Order which emphasised the need for caution in interpreting compass readings. Various locations experienced variation, not only from the expected local variation, but also over time – even from hour to hour. Across Iceland the variation changed from 32 degrees West in the West of the Island to 23 degrees West in the East – the variation not being constant for a given distance. The Adjutant was to organise compass checking during the week.
Because climatic conditions could significantly vary in a short time Company Commanders were required to prepare a set of Training Programmes which could be “turned on” as conditions dictated, with generally a mix of indoor and outdoor work, making the point that, as part of hardening the men, quite bad conditions would be accepted for outdoor work. The principles were to use the conditions as a “toughening” regime, avoid time-wasting – preferring training to administration – and aiming at energy and initiative in the Commanders. The men were to always be kept in the picture as to what was going on, to maintain their interest.
Appendix C – Operation Instruction No 1 – dated 8th November 1940.
The covering note identified the Duty Company for the forthcoming weeks explaining that the Company would provide a Brigade Guard on alternate weeks and also a guard in the HQ area. E Company – consisting of First Reinforcements – would take its turn when the Battalion was required for an exercise, but otherwise was not so rostered.
The Operation Instruction set out the duties of the weekly Duty Company.
The Duty Company manned; Coast Watching Posts at FORT YORK, FORT ROYAL and Pingvellir, a road block at Helgafell, a Brigade HQ guard on alternate weeks, Battalion HQ guard and Camp Duties – as assigned by the RSM including Canteen Orderlies, Orderly Room runners, QM Stores Working Party and a Picquet for the MT Park.
The first Platoon – one Section each - covered FORT ROYAL, FORT YORK and Helgafell, reporting directly to Brigade HQ and maintaining Logbooks of activity at each Post of, firstly, intelligence and movements and, in a second book, progress on improving the Posts and the completion of daily tasks. Signallers from Battalion HQ would be present at the two Forts for communication purposes, using lamp and telephone.
A reserve of rations and fuel would be built up at each Post with regular supplies organised by the Quartermaster, assisted by the Pioneer Sergeant where manhandling of stores was involved. Training programmes for each Section would be organised by the Platoon Commander.
The second Platoon covered Pingvellir and the Brigade and Battalion guards – separate detailed orders for each were the subject of separate documents which, at least in the case of the Pingvellir Post, were attached as an Appendix to the Instruction. This document set out the duties of the detachment in maintaining continuous observation of the Lake – especially for flying boat landings or other suspicious movements. (It must be realised that this is a considerable protected body of water at some distance from Reykjavik, thus allowing, if not opposed, the opportunity for the enemy to bring in airborne forces by seaplane with access to a main road leading to the capital).
The Section was to be accommodated in the Valholl Hotel on the site – though warnings were given about conduct, the maintenance of good relations with the Icelanders and the protection of Hotel property. A reserve of supplies was to be established to cover a potential foul weather scenario closing the road to Alafoss. A Company Cook was to accompany the Section and utilise petrol cookers outside. The Platoon Commander, who had a 15cwt truck at his disposal for the week, was to visit each other day with mail and rations.
A civil telephone existed and the Post had Code Words for use in emergencies. Provision was made for Petty Cash to purchase fresh food supplies.
Each man was to carry 75 rounds of Small Arms Ammunition and all men were to be equipped with Winter Clothing. Provided he was not on Brigade Guard, the Platoon Sergeant would be with this Section, together with a Despatch Rider from the Signals Section in case of telephone failure. Security considerations were to be the topic of constant reinforcement to the men – with warnings against careless talk.
The third Platoon provided the Camp Duties personnel, including Camp maintenance as required.
Company Commanders were to ensure that; all duties were being carried out and properly supervised by Platoon Commanders, Posts were being constantly improved – and progress reported to the CO or Adjutant, attention was paid to cleanliness and sanitation, mail was collected and delivered, and reliefs were carried out promptly,
Appendix D – 70th Infantry Brigade Field Firing Exercise.
The objective of the exercise was to practise Sub-Units in carrying out an operation with ball ammunition in co-operation with Field Artillery.
The lessons intended to be learned were:-
The co-operation and use of weapons within the Battalion.
Importance of covering fire and support offered by co-operating arms.
The use of ground and cover.
The exercise was directed by Brigadier Kirkup personally and was intended to involve each Battalion in turn, but was prevented from being completed because of worsening weather.
The exercise scenario was based on a landing at SANDSKEID, by troop-carrying aircraft, of enemy infantry, light infantry guns and light tanks, assisted by trucks purloined from civilians.
The situation set out in the Narrative was that:-
Part of the Force Reserve had been rushed to SANDSKEID and were engaging enemy positions on the airfield. The main part of the enemy force had pushed through the rough valleys leading to the East of Helgafell, five miles South-East of Hafnafjordur apparently in an attempt to break through the defences and on to Reykjavik. Air reconnaissance had suggested that the enemy were attempting to seize Kleifervatn as a secondary base of operations, probably with the assistance of other mobile detachments coming from the direction of KRISUVIK.
The Battalion carrying out the exercise was positioned in the Kleifervatn area on collective training, less part of their strength on other duties, and were working with a troop of 143rd Field Regiment and a detachment of 187 Field Ambulance.
The Battalion Commander received orders from Brigade HQ to attack and destroy the enemy – estimated at two Companies strong with attached troops – moving South from Helgafell.
The exercise then involved taking and piquetting the ridge positions above CAMERON NECK with one Platoon, supported by Carriers in the defile itself who were expecting the enemy approaching down that route. The remaining troops – less those left guarding the Alafoss Camp – were to rendezvous at THE HUT with “O” Groups meeting the CO at the North end of THE LAKE with one Company acting as Advance Guard.
The picquet on the ridge was imaginary, so the exercise began with the Carriers moving down the defile to secure it, and then opening fire on enemy positions East of the bend in the road leading to CANADA PASS. Plans were made to capture ROCK HILL supported by fire from the Carriers and 2” mortar smoke rounds on the high ground. The Artillery had come into position at CAMERON NECK but had not yet engaged.
The Advance Guard captured the position as ordered but suffered casualties and were held up by fire from a strong enemy position in RED TRENCH. The Carriers moved to assist from the left flank and a second Company was passed through the Advance Guard to take the RED TRENCH position and then move on to other high ground locations. The Artillery Troop moved to their forward positions.
The Battalion Commander gave his orders for the capture of RED TRENCH and the high ground at SPUR, SPHINX and BALL HILL.
The Field Artillery fired a concentration from their 25pdr gun-howitzers on RED TRENCH lifting to BALL HILL. The Carrier Section supported the attack by machine gun fire onto BALL HILL. The 2” mortars were used to lay a smoke screen on the second objective and the SPUR to the South East of SPHINX.
Following the capture of the ridge the force consolidated, exploiting their success, following which the Carriers withdrew into reserve.
The final phase consisted of a simulated enemy counter-attack, during which the Carriers were moved to the West side of BALL HILL to protect the Left Flank of the Battalion. The enemy attacked on the Right Flank and were engaged by the Artillery and the Platoon weapons, while the Carriers engaged the attacking force from the Left Flank with machine gun fire. The enemy were simulated by tank targets and tins – on which all weapons were directed.
This exercise is thought to be one of, if not the, first occasion in which Infantry were covered by live firing from 25pdrs, although the practice became much more common as Battle Schools were developed.
Appendix E – Officer Debates – dated 7th November 1940.
This note set out the “house rules” for the regular debates to take place during the winter months on military and allied subjects. Guest speakers were envisaged on occasion. Proposer and Opposer, and their seconders, would normally be identified in advance but any Officer could contribute when the process was underway.
The first debate in the series was planned for 21st November 1940 and was on the subject of the internal organisation of the Battalion, focussed on the expected alterations to the composition of the support function (Anti-Aircraft, Mortars, Motorcyclists and Carriers) and their armament. As the topic material was still secret at that stage the content of the debate was not publicised. The proposal was that….”The organisation of the Infantry Battalion is unwieldy and tactically and administratively beyond the control of one Commander”.
Appendix F – Operation Order No 5 – dated 20th November 1940.
The copy of this Order, filed with the 11th DLI War Diary, is unfortunately incomplete – only sheets 1 and 4 of the Order plus Appendices A,B,C(excluding map tracing), and D are present. However, other copies of related documents are filed with other War Diaries so a reading of those in conjunction should allow a picture to be obtained of what was intended.
The Order concerns the role to be played by 11th DLI as part of the Iceland (or Alabaster) Force Reserve in the event of an enemy invasion – one of the core reasons for the presence of the troops on Iceland.
11th DLI were to be prepared to act in offensive action, against any enemy threat from the direction of HUNAFLOI, KALDARDANES or Pingvellir, and to counter-attack any enemy penetration in the Brautarholt – Reykjavik area.
The tasks could therefore be summarised as Mobile Reserve and Counter-attack roles.
The troops involved were the reduced scale Battalion HQ, HQ Company (less personnel listed on Appendix A who were to remain in Camp – for details see below), and A, B, C and D Rifle Companies. Their order of march was set out in Appendix B – for details see below.
One Platoon of E Company, supported by one Platoon of the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa (Machine Gun Battalion) was to occupy pivot positions in support of action against hostile landings.
A second Platoon of E Company was to occupy Coast Watching Posts and the Road Block, with the remainder of the Company defending the Alafoss Camp, together with the details of HQ Company.
The Mobile Reserve role:-
The main body of the Battalion might be ordered to move, embussed, to assembly areas at HVITAVELLIR BRIDGE or STADUR in the event of a threat from HUNAFLOI, or to SANDSKEID or KOTSTROND in the case of action towards KALDARDANES. Separate Orders would be issued as regards reconnaissances of these routes.
The subsequent two pages of the Order – which would have continued this description and gone on to describe the Counter-attack role are missing.
Page 4 of the Order concentrates on the administrative details of ammunition, rations, petrol, baggage, water, dress, medical, black-out precautions, map issues and intercommunication and signals. The actions to be taken were geared to the receipt of the standard Code Words related to invasion.
Appendix A to the Order lists the personnel of HQ Company who were to remain in Camp and act as its defenders alongside the remaining men of E Company.
These men were as follows:-
Pioneer Platoon – less one Section. RQMS and his Storemen. Orderly Room Sergeant and his two clerks. Two sanitary orderlies. Two Light Machine Gun Sections from the Anti-Aircraft Platoon. Three Signallers. Armourer and shoemaker. One Cook. One Officers’ Mess Waiter. 2nd in Command and his Batman. Drivers of those vehicles left in Camp. Postman. Sergeants’ Mess staff. Chaplain and his Batman. Two stretcher bearers.
It was noted that the Quartermaster and the Motor Transport Officer would be heading “B” Echelon.
Appendix B to the Order describes the order of march of the Main Body as follows:-
Advance Guard, comprising A Company, supported by a Section of Carriers and lead by the A Company Commander.
One Platoon of C Company.
Battalion HQ with Despatch Riders, the Commanders of B and C Companies, the Mortar Platoon and the Carrier Platoon less two Sections.
C Company – less one Platoon.
HQ Company – less the Details remaining in Camp.
“B” Echelon Transport – if proceeding with the Battalion.
Rearguard Company – D Company supported by a Section of Carriers and commanded by the D Company Commander.
The whole column was timed so as to leave over a period of 44 minutes – with A Company marking the bridge crossing(s) with two red lights during hours of darkness. Vehicle density was to be 10 vehicles to the mile at a speed of 12 mph.
Certain roads were designated military roads and to be kept free of civil traffic if an emergency arose and the expected flood of refugees from Reykjavik and Hafnafjordur occurred. Designated “refugee” roads would be used to evacuate civilians.
A rigid control was to be exercised over all road traffic, achieved by establishing Control Posts – which were not to be confused with an AFV Road Block – and would consist of knife rests to block the roadway and wiring at the roadside where necessary. They would be established at the junction of the Reykjavik, Alafoss and Pingvellir roads, tasked to prevent civilian traffic entering the Alafoss Camp area.
The tracing of the designated roads was unfortunately missing from the War Diary.
It must be remembered that, firstly, 11th DLI and indeed the Brigade as a whole, had had dire experiences of civilian refugee problems in the retreat to Dunkirk, witnessing air attacks on defenceless people and being hampered in their movements to take up defensive positions, and communicate with each other, by roads and bridges blocked with horse-drawn carts and pedestrians fleeing the advancing Germans. They were acutely aware of what might occur in an emergency.
Appendix D to the Order – Allocation of Transport and Embussing Points.
This apparently uninteresting Appendix sets out the composition of the vehicles used to support the 11th DLI in its various roles and serves as a valuable indicator of the transport needs of a fighting Battalion.
Each Rifle Company had, in its “A” or fighting Echelon, an 8cwt and a 15cwt truck at Company HQ and a 15cwt and three 30cwt trucks for each of its three Platoons. The Company “B” Echelon had 2 30cwt trucks – one with the CQMS, petrol cookers and rations, and the second – an RASC vehicle - with blankets.
Battalion HQ had; the CO’s car, with the CO, Adjutant and Sergeant Clerk as passengers, one 8cwt truck for the Intelligence Section, the 15cwt Office Truck – with the RSM, two clerks and an Intelligence Private, a 30cwt Medical truck with the M.O., his Orderly, Batman and six stretcher bearers, and an RASC 30cwt personnel truck taking the Batmen, Intelligence Section, and the Regimental Police.
HQ Company in its “A” Echelon had; an 8cwt truck for the Company Commander, an 8cwt for the Signals Officer, a 15cwt for Signals stores, 2 30cwt RASC trucks for the Signals personnel, 4 15cwt trucks for the Anti-Aircraft Platoon, 2 15cwt trucks for the Mortar Platoon, a 30cwt RASC truck for the Mortar personnel, a 15cwt for the Pioneers and a 15cwt truck and the ten Carriers of the Carrier Platoon.
HQ Company’s “B” Echelon had; an 8cwt for the Quartermaster, an 8cwt for the Motor Transport Officer, 3 15cwt trucks holding reserve ammunition, a 15cwt with reserve Mortar ammunition, a Water Truck, a 30cwt Officers’ Mess truck, a 30cwt Motor Transport truck with technical stores and fitters, a 30cwt with HQ Cooks and rations, a 30cwt with HQ Company CQMS and blankets, a 30cwt with petrol for Carriers, 2 30cwt RASC trucks with reserve rations and 6 30cwt trucks with the Force reserve ammunition.
There were 4 30cwt personnel trucks travelling empty as spares in case of breakdowns.
The vehicles that remained in Camp with the HQ Company Details consisted of 2 30cwt trucks carrying spare gas clothing, a Water Truck and the Sergeants’ Mess 30cwt truck.
A variety of embussing points for the troops were identified so that not everyone was getting aboard the trucks in one area – and thus providing a large target for enemy aircraft – while “B” Echelon vehicles were to load in Company lines and then proceed to the vehicle park.
Trucks were to remain in the embussing areas until called forward to join the convoy by the Officer in charge. A map or chart of the embussing areas and a legend identifying specific vehicles was supplied later and attached to the Appendix.
Appendix G – Operation Instruction No 7 – Air Raid Action.
This document, as its title suggests, describes the actions to be adopted forthwith in the event of an air raid warning or attack.
The first stage – the NORMAL situation – required each Company to detail an Anti-Aircraft Light Machine Gun Team for duty daily. The Gun would be mounted, but not manned until the second stage.
HQ Company’s Anti-Aircraft Platoon would mount an air sentry each day from half an hour before dawn to half an hour after dusk in a post behind the Orderly Room. The sighting of an enemy aircraft would be reported immediately to the Orderly Room where the duty clerk would sound the second stage alarm.
The second stage – ALERT – would be initiated by the sounding of the Air Raid siren, which would also be sounded if gunfire was heard in Reykjavik or if other Air Raid alarms were heard. At this point, all Anti-Aircraft Posts would be manned – one sentry at each Post being provided with a whistle. The Guard Commander would also sound the Guard Room siren. All ranks to don steel helmets and carry respirators. Those not on duty would take cover but otherwise normal work and training would continue.
The third stage is TAKE COVER meaning that a local warning of an air attack is imminent – signalled by a series of short whistle blasts given by air sentries on the approach of hostile aircraft. All except LMG Teams would take cover.
The fourth stage is RAIDERS PASSED given on a local basis when it is clear that the immediate attack is over – sounded by a series of long whistle blasts initiated from the Command Post and repeated by Companies – it would only be given by an Officer. Normal duties would be resumed but Anti-Aircraft LMG Posts would remain manned.
The fifth stage is ALL CLEAR – given by the standard All Clear sounding of the Camp sirens. All LMG Posts would stand down.
The Main Guard Room sentry would act as Gas Sentry and sound the gas alarm – a metal gong – if gas is detected. Any decontamination would be under Company arrangements.
At night, troops would take cover in their huts with all lights extinguished. Anti-Aircraft action would only be taken at night against identified enemy aircraft clearly visible and flying low.
If the Battalion was acting under the provisions of Operation Order No 5 - see above – the necessary action would be decentralised to Companies.
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