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

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1st November 1941 Reykjavik

An ENSA Concert was attended by 50% of the Battalion.

2nd November 1941

The Novices Boxing Competition was won by the Carrier Platoon.

4th November 1941

The CO attended the G.o.C.’s Cloth Model Exercise.

6th November 1941

The G.o.C. held a TEWT on Mountain Warfare.

9th – 15th November 1941

The CO attended the Force Tactical School.

11th – 16th November 1941

Lieut Hadden attended an Air Co-operation Course at RAF HQ Reykjavik.

12th - 17th November 1941

The Reconnaissance Platoon completed a reconnaissance of the area South West of Mount HEKLA. Weather conditions were bad and Lt Rowell and his men had a hard time.

16th November 1941

Reverend Captain Sheehan and 2/Lt Ridgeway joined the Battalion.

Captain D.L. Morris was transferred to No 4 Infantry Training Centre, Brancepeth.

2/Lieut Dunnell left for a Pack Transport Course in the UK.

18th November 1941

Major Hamilton, Captain Kirkup and Captain Lang embarked at Reykjavik for AKUREYRI to attend the Force Winter Warfare Course.

19th November 1941

Weapon Training Instruction issued – this is attached to the War Diary as Appendix A – for details see below.

19th November 1941

Force Signals Exercise No 10 took place, involving a night spent in the open in the area of LITLA SAUDAFJOLL, near Pingvellir. A description is set out in Appendix B attached to the War Diary – for details see below. Weather conditions were very bad but the Battalion HQ personnel present did not suffer any harm.

22nd November 1941

Captains Johnstone and Brewis proceeded on Force Tactical Course No 9.

26th November 1941

The Brigade Commander’s Cloth Model Exercise on Mountain Warfare took place, attended by the CO and 2 i/c.

28th November 1941

A Company and the Reconnaissance Platoon proceeded to HVITANES for a week’s training. Information is set out on Appendix C attached to the War Diary – for details please see below.

At 23:00 hours Force Exercise No 15 took place. This is described on Appendix D attached to the War Diary – for details see below.

Appendices attached to the November 1941 War Diary.

Appendix A – Weapon Training Instruction – issued 19th November 1941.

The aim of this document was to help achieve a high standard of marksmanship within the available allotment of ammunition.

The principle aim was for each man to become an accurate rifle shot – other weapons were then expected not to present too much difficulty. This depended on a solid foundation of basic painstaking and patient instruction on the Range – with a genuine and continued interest from all NCOs and Officers in their men’s shooting standards.

The development of confidence was seen as the best approach for weak shots with sufficient time allowed for special instruction if necessary.

Details were set out of the allocation of ammunition for range work by Company and Specialist Platoons. The relevant standard scores and practices, taken from the Small Arms Training Manual Volume 1, Pamphlet 18 were repeated in the Appendix.

Each man had to successfully complete a qualification shoot, achieving a 12 inch grouping, before he could be classified. Weak shots would continue with practice until the qualification standard was achieved. Once qualified, men would continue with rifle practice and pass on to the Bren Gun. Each man carried a record of his shooting results in his AB64 Paybook.

Men who failed to qualify would be reported to Battalion HQ where their cases would be reviewed. Company Commanders were to make a weekly return of the numbers of men who were yet to complete qualification, as well as those having classified. Reports on progress would also involve the Weapon Training Officer, who would report routinely to Brigade HQ. The classification was spread over 1st Class, 2nd Class and Below 2nd Class. No mention was made in this document of Marksman as a classification.

Appendix B – Force Exercise No 14 – issued 18th November 1941.

This was a document covering the arrangements for a Force Signals Exercise from 00:01 hours on 19th November to 23:59 hours on 20th November. The only staff from the Battalion taking part were Battalion HQ.

Those taking part were the CO, 2 i/c, Adjutant, Signals Officer, Pioneer Officer, Lieut Nicholson acting as Intelligence Officer, Lieut Hadden as Motor Contact Officer and the RSM.

The Other Ranks involved were:-

One Sergeant and two men from the Orderly Room.

One Sergeant and two men from the Regimental Police – all on motorcycles.

The Intelligence Section (with Corporal McJannet acting as Sergeant) and six men.

A detachment from the Signals Platoon, with equipment.

A detachment of Pioneers, with equipment.

Two Sections from the Anti-Aircraft Platoon.

A small Officers’ Mess staff (to be arranged by Corporal Wright).

A small men’s mess staff (to be arranged by C/Sgt Gleason and Corporal Stafford).

The Battalion HQ, as detailed above, was to be completely mobile. This required the following vehicles:-

CO’s car.

Intelligence Officer’s Pick-up.

Signals Officer’s Pick-up.

Signals Platoon’s stores 15cwt truck.

Pioneer Platoon’s sores 15cwt truck.

Anti-Aircraft Platoon’s two 15cwt trucks.

Officers’ Mess 3-tonner.

Orderly Room 3-tonner (including the Orderly Room staff, RSM and Batman).

Personnel 3-tonner (including the remaining Intelligence, Signals, Regimental Police and Batmen with Officers’ kit).

2/Lt J.M. McNichol would act as Duty Officer at Skipton Camp during the Exercise.

Communications would include exercise prefixes to all messages, with copies of all messages handed to the Umpire.

Appendix C – The Brigade Training Camp – issued 26th November 1941.

This document gave the instructions for A Company, plus the Reconnaissance Platoon, to spend a week of intensive training at the Brigade Camp, which had been established at HVITANES.

Arrangements were made for other Companies to cover the normal duties of the Company, such as guards at METASKOLIN and the occupation of GARGAND Camp.

All winter kit was to be taken and such G1098 equipment and ammunition as deemed necessary, as well as a week’s coal supply - the Company was also required to take its own cooks, although normal fatigues and maintenance would be looked after by the Camp staff.

A Company was following a Sub-unit from 10th DLI and would hand over to a Sub-unit of 1st Tyneside Scottish at the end of the week.

Appendix D - Force Exercise No 19 – issued 27th November 1941.

This document described a Passive Air Defence Exercise to be held in the Reykjavik area at some time overnight on 28/29th November. The aim was to test air defence arrangements, both active and passive, in the Reykjavik area.

It was hoped to institute a blackout of at least one hour’s duration, during which electrical power would be cut off. Up until this point Iceland had never experienced a blackout for wartime reasons.

All operational locations were to have alternative lighting available, and Despatch Riders were to be prepared to ride in blackout conditions.

As part of the activity D Company were to carry out a Manning Exercise. American aircraft, Anti-Aircraft guns and Searchlights of the 5th Defence Battalion of the US Marine Corps were co-operating, and the Reykjavik Town ARP organisations were practising their various roles. Air Raid sirens would be sounded to indicate the start of the exercise and the “All Clear” to conclude it.

No vehicles, other than those taking official part in the exercise were to be on the road, and all vehicles were to be limited to 20 mph and using sidelights only.

Umpires would brief each unit on the incidents that they were to exercise and a Final Conference to discuss the outcome was planned for 1st December.

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