1st Tyneside Scottish February 1941

From 70 Brigade
Jump to: navigation, search

1st February 1941

Operation Order No 1 was issued as revised. A copy was attached to the War Diary as Appendix 1 – for details see below.

1st – 4th February 1941

Lt Col Oxley was attending a TEWT.

4th February 1941

A lecture on Security to was given to the troops by Captain Fawdrey, Field Security.

5th February 1941

An Officers’ discussion on night operations was held.

The exercise narrative for a forthcoming two-sided exercise was handed to Captain Walton of C Company. The narrative does not appear to have been filed with the War Diary.

6th February 1941

The exercise was carried out from 07:00 hours to 12:00 against 11th DLI in the area of ULFARSFELL.

A visit to the Camp was made by the Deputy Assistant Adjutant General of the Iceland Force, Major Shaw-Hamilton.

9th January 1941

At 11:10 hours a warning was received from Brigade HQ of a German aircraft over Selfoss and machine-gunning. The aircraft was seen to head for Reykjavik and Anti-Aircraft Guns were heard firing.

The Selfoss detachment reported at 11:20 hours that Private Martin McLaughlan Hunter had been killed in this air attack and Sgt Thomson had been wounded.

At 11:25 hours the Camp Anti-Aircraft post reported an aircraft diving in the direction of SANDSKEID.

At 11:30hours the CO, accompanied by Captain Angus of D Company and the Assistant Adjutant left for Selfoss.

At 13:00 hours, the party arrived at Selfoss and investigated the incident. A copy of the Report is attached to the War Diary at Appendix 2. For further details – see below.

On return from Selfoss at 17:00 hours the CO reported personally to Brigade HQ.

10th February 1941

A Battalion Cloth Model TEWT on the SUVLA Campaign was conducted by Major Walmsley, the 2i/c.

11th February 1941

3061127 Pte Hunter’s full military funeral was conducted, with a burial in New Cemetery, Hafnarfjordur Rd. (This Cemetery became the Fossvogur Cemetery which contains, in the Commonwealth War Graves Section, the graves of 197 casualties – mostly from air and naval forces).

The TEWT on SUVLA continued at Alafoss.

12th February 1941

An Officers’ discussion took place with lecturettes on training.

A Company at Brautarholt and Saurbaer was relieved by B Company, less the Platoon already based at MOUNDS Camp. No 13 Platoon, under A Company command, returned to Camp.

Operation Order No 3 was revised, and a copy attached to the War Diary as Appendix 3 – for details see below.

13th February 1941

The Assistant Adjutant had a conference with the Adjutant of 1/6 Duke of Wellington’s Regiment regarding the inter-Battalion relief timetable.

14th February 1941

The Brigade held an inter-Battalion exercise, based on the concept of an opposed landing area on ALFSNES – A and D Companies plus Nos 2 and 3 Platoons under Major Walmsley took part, against 11th DLI, from 07:00 to 15:00 hours.

A conference on the outcome was held by Brigade on 15th February 1941 at Alafoss.

Operation Order No 6 was revised as a result of the exercise and a copy of the revised Order was attached to the War Diary as Appendix 4 – for details see below.

17th February 1941

Battalion HQ took part in Iceland Force Exercise No 2 of 1941. They moved to their Battle HQ and ultimately to the area of GEITHALS.

18th February 1941

Sgt Martin, of 25 Group, the Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps, lectured the troops on The Spanish War.

Operation Instruction No 7 was issued and a copy attached to the War Diary as Appendix 5 – for further details see below.

19th February 1941

The Assistant Adjutant and the Quartermaster attended a conference on the inter-Battalion relief at Brigade HQ, Alafoss. A document on the relief was filed with the War Diary, but was not given an Appendix number – for details see below.

The G.O.C.’s Conference on Force Exercise No 2 was held at the Force Tactical School.

A lecture to Officers on Military Law was given by Major Bell.

21st February 1941

Between 18:00 and 20:00 hours the G.o.C. (Major-General Curtis) attended a reception in the Officers’ Mess.

24th February 1941

From 08:30 – 20:30 hours Force Exercise No 1 of 1941 took place, and the whole Battalion participated.

B Company plus No 13 Platoon was in action at Brautarholt and Saurbaer.

The D Company detachment was in action at Selfoss. D Company also turned out as the KALDADANES REINFORCEMENTS at 13:09 hours and were in action between Selfoss and Kaldadarnes.

The remainder of the Battalion manned posts and stood by as part of the Force Reserve until “stand down”.

25th February 1941

A lecture to the troops on “Australia” was given by Lt Dimmock 140 Group, Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps.

An Amendment was issued to Operation Order No 1, and a copy of the amendment was attached to the War Diary as Appendix 6 – for details see below.

26th February 1941

A Military Law lecture was given to Officers by the Deputy Judge Advocate General, Major Bell.

27th February 1941

The G.o.C.’s conference on Force Exercise No 1 was held at Reykjavik.

Appendices attached to the February 1941 War Diary for 1st Tyneside Scottish.

Appendix I – Revised version of Operation Order No 1 – issued 31st January 1941.

The original Operation Order No 1 was issued on 18th November 1940. This revision was made to deal with changes in unit locations and similar matters.

1st Tyneside Scottish were tasked as part of the Iceland Force Reserve – essentially 70th Brigade, less 10th DLI, together with supporting units – and had a role to operate against any enemy offensive action in HUNAFLOI, Kaldadarnes and Pingvellir.

This was in the context of a threat that the invasion of Iceland by German Forces remained a distinct possibility.

Garrisons were provided by the Battalion at Brautarholt, Saurbaer and Selfoss and there was a task to provide reinforcements for Kaldadarnes, in view of the importance of the airfield. The bulk of the document was taken up with the administrative arrangements for manning and supplying the relevant detachments and mobile forces.

The Appendices to the document spelled out the composition of the various Echelons, should the Force Reserve be called to respond to threats either from the North, from KALDARDARNES or from Pingvellir – thus covering the possibilities of enemy seaborne or airborne landings. The position of the elements of the Battalion were spelled out in the Appendices. The transport requirements were dealt with in a specific Appendix. In addition, a separate sheet set out the steps to be taken if a move on VATNSENDI HILL (the Radio Station) had to be undertaken.

Appendix II – Report to the Battalion CO on the aircraft action at Selfoss on 9th February 1941.

This Report, completed by the Assistant Adjutant, Lt Boyne, setting out the results of the investigation into the air raid at Selfoss was used as the source material for the section in “The War in the Southland”, which has already been documented.

The text from the Report is reproduced here in full.


Report to OC 1 TS, BW, (RHR) on aircraft action at Selfoss BRIDGE reference 6683 9th February 1941 by 2/Lt H.B. Boyne, Assistant Adjutant.

Map – ICELAND 1:50,000 sheet 37 HENDILL SE

Part 1

1 About 11:15 hours on Sunday 9th February 1941 a HEINKEL twin-engined aircraft flew low over Selfoss Bridge and machine-gunned the detachment of 1st Tyneside Scottish there.

2 Two Other Ranks of the detachment were hit. 3061127 Pte M.M. Hunter was instantly killed and 4457981 Sgt R.S. Thomson received a bullet in the left forearm.

3 The aircraft was fired upon by Anti-Aircraft Light Machine Gun by 4460911 Pte J.E. Brown who expended 21 rounds of Small Arms Ammunition. He thinks he hit it, but cannot be certain. I have found it impossible to establish whether Pte Brown or the aircraft’s machine-gunner was first to open fire.

4 The detachment at Selfoss consists of 16 Platoon, D Company, 1st Tyneside Scottish supported by other personnel, commanded by 2/Lt B.G. Kennedy.

5 At the time of the engagement the men on duty were; one sentry (Pte Brown) in the Anti-Aircraft Post above the Camp on the North side of the river, one sentry on the bridge, the guard commander and four men in the Guard Room, and one NCO and four men on patrol in a 15cwt truck along the aerodrome road.

6 About 11:00 hours 2/Lt Kennedy held an inspection (prior to Church Parade) outside the Café on the South side of the river. There were 22 men on parade.

7 Following the inspection 2/Lt Kennedy dismissed the Presbyterians and Roman Catholics who returned to Camp. The remainder, numbering about 12, entered the Café (which is occupied as billets by a Detachment of 89 Company, 25 Group, Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps) to attend a joint service conducted by the Pioneer Corps Officer (Lt Bevan).

8 They had just entered the building when 2/Lt Kennedy, who was still outside, saw a twin-engined HEINKEL plane coming roughly SE and flying in the direction of Kaldadarnes AERODROME. This was between 11:10 and 11:13 hours. He estimates the height of the plane when he first saw it as about 1800 feet.

9 2/Lt Kennedy at once recognised the plane as an enemy machine. He immediately turned out his men from the Church Service and doubled them across the bridge towards the Camp, with the intention of manning the defences.

10 By this time the place had circled over Kaldadarnes and was observed returning towards Selfoss. It was losing height rapidly and as it flew towards the bridge it was coming straight down

11 Mr Kennedy’s party was about two thirds of the distance across the bridge when the plane, at a height of 200 feet or lower, opened Machine-gun fire and Sgt Thomson was hit. The part sustained no other casualty.

12 The plane’s fire was also directed towards the Camp. Pte Hunter was just outside the door of the hut, which is used as a canteen and store, when he was hit. The bullet penetrated his right side in the region of the lung and killed him instantly.

13 Pte Brown in the Anti-Aircraft Post first saw the plane well to the South side of the river, at a point roughly SE of his Post. He states that it circled over the aerodrome and then flew towards Selfoss, coming lower and lower all the time.

14 He recognised it as an enemy plane and when he saw it swooping down on the bridge he deduced that its intentions were hostile and decided to open fire. He estimated the range of the plane at about 400 yards. He fired 21 rounds automatic, aiming just in front of the plane, and is of the opinion that he scored a hit, as he saw the machine rock and wobble on its course. It flew off at high speed in the direction of Reykjavik before he could resume his fire.

15 Pte Brown states that the plane was at a height of not more than 200 feet when it crossed the river. He is unable to say whether the plane opened fire before he did. He did not hear its guns at all.

16 The plane was also fired on from a point near the Café (on the South side of the river) by Pte Hardwick, 89 Company, 25 Group, AMPC, who saw it when it first appeared, recognised it as hostile, and put five rounds in the magazine of his rifle. He expended all five, firing at about the same time as Brown. He. too, formed the opinion that the plane was hit. He could not say whether the plane was the first to open fire.

17 Two of the Nissen huts in the Camp area were penetrated by bullets, as was also the cookhouse, a wooden erection. Bullets also landed in the vicinity of the Anti-Aircraft Post, one of them entering a sandbag immediately behind the Anti-Aircraft mounting. No bullet has so far been found but a search is being conducted.

18 2/Lt Kennedy immediately telephoned 98 Squadron, RAF Kaldadarnes for medical assistance for Sgt Thomson, who was attended to in the meantime by the detachment’s stretcher bearers. On his arrival, the Medical Officer (Flt Lt Brown) dressed Sgt Thomson’s wound and despatched him by RAF ambulance to the 30th General Hospital, RETKJAVIK. At this time the bullet was still in Sgt Thomson’s forearm.

19 Flight Lieutenant Brown examined Hunter’s body and formed the opinion that the wound which caused death was the result of a ricochet, as the bullet (which remained in the body) had apparently entered sideways on.

20 I summoned a truck by telephone from BALDURSHAGI Camp at about 14:00 hours and the body was removed to 30th General Hospital.

Signed 2/Lt R.B. Boyne, Assistant Adjutant, 1st Tyneside Scottish, Black Watch, Royal Highland Regiment.

20:00 hours

9th February 1941.

Appendix III – Revision to Operation Order No 3.

This document is a revision of the Order dealing with the defence of Kaldadarnes Aerodrome. The amendments concern minor refinements, changes of personnel etc.

Appendix IV – Revision to Operation Order No 6 – issued 15th February 1941.

This concerned changes to the Operation Order for the defence of Brautarholt HEADLAND – accompanied by details of the action to be taken if martial law was declared.

Details were given of the permanent garrison at Saurbaer and how guards etc were organised at the several Posts throughout the Headland, with details of the reserve ammunition held and how it would be deployed in the event of an emergency. Molotov bombs were included among the trench stores.

The overall approach was concerned primarily with the resistance to airborne (parachute) or seaborne attacks and it was made very clear that a stubborn resistance was to be maintained until the last man and the last round. The reserve element of the force was to maintain its ability to manoeuvre to meet any threat for as long as possible.

Appendix V – Operation Instruction No 7 – issued 18th February 1941.

This document set out the plan for the defence of BALDURSHAGI Camp. Prepared positions had been set up known as North East, North West and South – each to be manned by one Section – with an Anti-Tank Rifle included at the North East Post. Anti-Aircraft Posts East and West were included within the Camp defences and would be manned on receipt of an alert (East Post would, in any case, be manned routinely from dusk till dawn).

Once Posts were manned as directed, the remainder of the Garrison would form Platoon strength groups and be at ten minutes’ notice to move as part of the Force Reserve.

Appendix VI – Amendment to Operation Order No 1 – issued 25th February 1941.

This short amendment document; set out Code numbers designating the key Officers of the Brigade and the Battalion, revised the content of the first echelon of vehicles in the context of the Force Reserve moving North, and amended the first echelon content in a move to Pingvellir.

Administrative Instructions No 10 – Inter-Battalion Relief on 6th and 7th March 1941 – issued 21st February 1941.

While this document was not referred to specifically as an Appendix, it was filed with the Battalion War Diary as such.

Command of the Reykjavik Sub-Sector was to transfer to the CO of 1st Tyneside Scottish at a designated time and arrangements were to be made for the usual Advance and Rear Parties to take over, or handover, accommodation, confidential documents, stores, weapons and ammunition as appropriate. The Battalion relieving the 1st Tyneside Scottish at BALDURSHAGI Camp, Selfoss, Saurbaer and Brautarholt were 1st/6th Battalion the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment.

To contact the author by e-mail with any queries, or to send information - click here.