1st Tyneside Scottish January 1944

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3rd January 1944 Southwold.

Major D N Nicol assumed command of the Battalion following the departure of Lt Col A. J. H. Cassels.

8th January 1944

The Strength State of the Battalion was completed and a copy filed with the War Diary as Appendix 1 – for further details see below.

10th January 1944

Lt Col R W M de Winton assumed command of the Battalion.

11th January 1944

The Battalion’s Advance Party left for the new location at LOWESTOFT.

14th January 1944

The Battalion moved to its new location.

15th January 1944

Battalion Training Instruction No 1 was issued and a copy attached to the War Diary as Appendix 2 – for further details see below.

The Strength State of the Battalion was completed and a copy attached to the War Diary as Appendix 3 – for further information see below.

21st January 1944

Exercise “APPLE” was held – a Field Firing Exercise in co-operation with Tanks. A copy of the information about the exercise was attached to the War Diary as Appendix 3A – for further information see below.

22nd January 1944

The weekly Strength State was completed and a copy attached to the War Diary as Appendix 4 – for further details see below.

27th January 1944

Exercise “Elk II” was held - an exercise in attacking an enemy strongpoint defended by a deep minefield – with the mines being cleared by AVREs. The Exercise was observed by General Eisenhower and the CIGS Sir Alan Brooke. Details of the exercise were contained on Appendix 5 – for details see below.

29th January 1944

The weekly Strength State was completed and a copy attached to the War Diary as Appendix 6 (marked on the War Diary as Appendix 5) – for further details see below.

30th January 1944

The Battalion’s Advance Party moved to the new location at THETFORD.

Appendices attached to the 1st Tyneside Scottish War Diary for January 1944.

Appendix 1 – Field Returns of Manpower as at 8th January 1944.

The unit appeared to have resumed completing strength states on a weekly basis.

The names were listed from the documents of 8/1/1944 and any subsequent changes were picked up and incorporated into the summary on the relevant dates.

There were 37 officers in the Battalion in total on 8th January; one Lieutenant-Colonel, 5 Majors, 10 Captains, 20 Lieutenants - including one surplus to establishment - and one Quartermaster.

These were as follows, showing the following information in the order of; Marital Status, Substantive Rank, Temporary Rank, Name, Regiment, Whether present on the day, Date joined the Battalion, Role occupied:-

M Maj Lt Col Cassels A J H Seaforths No 1.7.1943 Att’d No 12 Corps

M Capt T/Major Nicol D N BW Y 15.9.1943 2 i/c

M WS/Capt T/Major McGregor WL BW Y 5.3.1940 OC A coy

M WS Capt T/Major Dunn (MC) JK BW Y 3.9.1939 OC B Coy

M WS Capt T/Major Boyne H B BW Y 16.6.1940 OC D Coy

S WS/Lt A/Major Angus W K BW Y 3.9.1939 OC C Coy

S WS/Lt T/Capt Alexander J R BW Y 10.7.1940 Adjutant

S WS/Lt T/Capt Brennan W G BW Y 3.9.1939 OC S Coy

S WS/Lt T/Capt Keith A M BW Y 17.2.1940 OC HQ Coy

M WS/Lt T/Capt Maclagan A BW Y 10.1.1940 OC A/Tk Pl

M WS/Lt T/Capt Calderwood K R BW Y 3.9.1939 OC 4 Platoon

S WS/Lt T/Capt Dempster R BW Y 22.3.1943 2i/c D Coy

S WS/Lt T/Capt Whitehead A P BW No 10.7.1940 2i/c A Coy - On leave

S Lt T/Capt Mirrielees (MC) D C BW No 25.11.1943 2i/c B Coy - On leave

M WS/Lt A/Capt Highmore J S BW Y 14.9.1940 2i/c C Coy

M WS/Lt How R B BW ? Y 26.11.1943 A Coy Duty Officer

S WS/Lt Salisbury D E DWR Y 26.6.1940 Signals Officer

M WS/Lt Paton G C BW Y 14.9.1940 2i/c/ 4 Pl

S WS/Lt Buchanan K D BW Y 27.11.1943 OC Mortar Platoon

S WS/Lt Stewart B T W BW Y 6.6.1942 2i/c 5 Platoon

M WS/Lt Shinwell E H BW Y 27.10.1942 C Coy Duty Officer

M WS/Lt Aikenhead W BW Y 6.11.1942 C Coy Duty Officer

S WS/Lt Wallace D C BW Y 6.11.1942 C Coy Duty Officer

S WS/Lt Mitchell C B BW Y 6.11.1942 Intelligence & Weapon Training Officer

S WS/Lt Bridges A E BW No 12.11.1943 A Coy Duty Officer - In Hospital

S WS/Lt White W A BW Y 11.3.1943 D Coy Duty Officer

S WS/Lt Murray J W BW Y 11.3.1943 D Coy Duty Officer

S WS/Lt McLaren J BW Y 19.3.1943 B Coy Duty Officer

S WS/Lt Allan J M BW Y 26.3.1943 B Coy Duty Officer

S WS/Lt Benvie D M BW Y 26.3.1943 D Coy Duty Officer

S WS/Lt Hoare J N R BW No 26.3.1943 OC 6 Platoon, Course - Ripon

S WS/Lt Oglesby A V BW Y 26.3.1943 D Coy Duty Officer

M WS/Lt Armstrong T BW Y 8.4.1943 Transport Officer

M WS/Lt Bolton R C BW Y 8.4.1943 A Coy Duty Officer

In addition, Ws/Lt Henderson M B of the Black Watch was attached temporarily as of 8/11/1943 from No 8 I.T.C., Perth (He was not on the 1/4/44 return).

CF Class 4 Chesworth C W, of the Royal Army Chaplain’s Department – one of the 70th Brigade Chaplains - was attached to the Battalion as from 15/1/1943.

Lt Col De Winton R. W. M. of the Gordon Highlanders was attached to the Battalion on 10/1/1944 to assume command vice Lt Col Cassels.

S WS/Lt Lawrie A S of KOSB was posted to the unit wef 26/6/1940 – and on 8th January was an A Coy Duty Officer pending posting. He left on 14.2.1944 on being posted to the 7th Battalion, King’s Own Scottish Borderers.

M WS/Capt QM Findlay J of the Black Watch was posted to the Battalion wef 10/9/1940 as Q M.

M Ws/Capt Mellor J C D of the RAMC was posted to the Battalion on 12/11/1942 as Medical Officer.

No changes had taken place during the week ending 8th January.

In respect of the Other Ranks as at 8 January 1944, the Battalion strength was 1 WO I, 6 WO IIs, 6 CSMs/Colour Sergeants, 36 Sergeants, 65 Corporals, and 660 privates. 41 reinforcements were required.

The War Establishment included one Pipe Major and 5 Pipers.

In respect of attached ranks – on 8/1/1944 2338631 Sergeant Instructor Markey P of the Army Physical Training Corps was present with the Battalion, but was not on the 5/2/44 return, so had presumably been posted elsewhere.

The Home Details, in addition to the men listed above, consisted of 1 WO II, 1 Colour Sgt, 4 Cpls and 140 Ptes. – totalling 146 men.

Appendix 2 – Battalion Training Instruction No 1.

Lt Col De Winton issued, on 15th January, within a few days of taking command, a comprehensive Training Instruction No 1.

This covered his expectations of how the unit would work, with specific guidance on a wide variety of topics, from revised shooting expectations, with the advent of the No 4 Rifle – with “awkward bolt action and magazine platform” – the grouping expectations were 8” at 100 yards for every man and the ability to fire 10 rounds rapid at 200 yards rather than 300 yards.

Each section was expected to have a sniper – these men to be regarded as the “First Eleven” of the Company.

Topics covered included; map reading, digging, minefield laying, wireless training, availability of Bangalore Torpedoes, practising pillbox assaults, how to hold briefings, patrolling, developing NCOs and Young Officers using lectures etc, co-operation with other arms, PIAT use, carrier driving rules, mortar fire control by radio and attaching the same mortar detachments to Companies, Anti-Tank objectives and positioning, Pioneer Platoon were to study Army Training Memorandum No 47 on blowing new positions, practice building Command Posts, and rafting, Signals Platoon to improve communications, Intelligence Section to train on observation, Motor Transport to fully use dummy landing craft at Southwold – embark and debark training and waterproofing, need for good administration to maintain morale – good cooking, dry clothing, rest – especially the role of 2i/cs and CQMSs.

He also stressed the importance of recreation, education and welfare, and courtesy in saluting and good turnout – “we are in another Brigade area”.

The document was written in a very personal style with clear and unambiguous expectations by the CO.

The Appendix to this Instruction set out a series of points arising from a Young Officers Tactical Course held at Southwold 12 – 29.12.1943.

A dozen points were made about improving the background knowledge, skill and preparedness of junior officers from poor appreciation of country to failing to see that Brens had slings available. Man management needed attention.

Appendix 3 – Weekly Return of Manpower as at 15th January 1944.

In addition to the information contained in Appendix 1 above the following additional detail was included on these Returns:-

Other Ranks - The 15th January Return showed 781 on the strength against a War Establishment of 815 – with 34 general duties reinforcements requested. It was noted that the Battalion was 9 Corporals and 22 Privates short of War Establishment on this date.

Appendix 3A – Exercise “APPLE”.

This was a Field Firing Exercise planned for 21st and 22nd January 1944 and was intended, firstly, to practise Companies in the carrying out of an attack with the support of Tanks, Artillery and Mortars and, secondly, to practise rapid consolidation and establishing immediate Anti-Tank measures.

The Tank support was to come from a Squadron of the East Riding Yeomanry and the Artillery from D Troop of the 79th Medium Regiment. An allotment of ammunition was made as this was a live firing exercise – including 2” and 3” Mortar rounds – both smoke and high-explosive.

The exercise scenario envisaged the Battalion being some 50 miles inland, having been part of an invasion force landed in North West Europe. 70th Brigade was the left forward Brigade of the Division and was advancing on an axis BLYTHBURGH – EUSTON – TUNSTALL – MELTON – IPSWICH.

The Brigade had reached WESTLETON reference 8487 and bivouacked overnight. The Battalion was in the area of WESTLETON HEATH reference 9087 and had sent out patrols which had confirmed that woods at 9186 and SCOTTSHALL COVERTS 9185 were enemy-held.

The Brigade Commander had ordered the Battalion to clear the enemy ( who was understood, from PoW intelligence, to have “many Medium Machine Guns”) from the area and had allocated Tanks from the East Riding Yeomanry under command plus a Troop from a Medium Regiment.

Detailed objectives and locations were set out. Following the assault, A Company was instructed to consolidate forward at reference 912857. A rate of advance was ordered of 100 yards per minute for the first 500 yards, then at a rate of 100 yards in 1½ minutes.

The exercise was focussed on the Right Forward Company and the attack was to be in two phases – the advance to the first objective by two Companies, followed by passing the remaining two Companies through to the final objective.

After the assault, the Tanks were to remain in the consolidation area in the Anti-Tank role until relieved by the Battalion’s Anti-Tank guns, or until the next Company passed through. The Tanks would then support the Reserve Company attack on the final objective.

One Section of the Carrier Platoon would bring forward tools for A Company after the assault and would then come under the command of A Company as a Mobile Reserve.

Detailed instructions were set out for the support from the Mortar Platoon, with a firing timetable – one Section would move forward with the Company and assist in capturing the first objective.

Code Words and Signals arrangements were described.

Appendix 4 – Weekly Return of Manpower as at 22nd January 1944.

The Officers’ Returns were unfortunately a poor copy and were unreadable.

The Return showed the effect of a draft on the numbers of Other Ranks – with 916 on the strength against a War Establishment of 815, giving a surplus of 107 Privates, though 37 reinforcements were still required. The Battalion was still short of 5 Corporals.

The men classed as “Home Details” had been reduced in number to 138 by 22nd January.

Appendix 5 – Exercise “ELK II”.

This Appendix sets out the details of the Order of March through the minefield in support of the exercise on tackling a deep minefield, on the way to attack an enemy position, mentioned in the War Diary.

This required a considerable number of vehicles – 15 Flail Tanks, 6 Gun Tanks, 18 Armoured Vehicles Royal Engineers, and the Battalion in Troop Carrying Vehicles supported by Anti-Tank guns and Mortars – see the image below (taken from the War Diary file at The National Archives) for details. This image from the War Diary is used by permission of specialist staff at the National Archives.

Assault sequence - Exercise ELK II.

Appendix 6 - Weekly Return of Manpower as at 29th January 1944.

The 29th January return shows a new Officer arriving, in the person of 2/Lt Brown H W of the Black Watch, who was posted to the Battalion from 21/1/44.

The men classed as “Home Details” had been reduced further in number to 69 by 29th January. The Home Details figures included “Immatures”.

The "First Reinforcements" are numbered extra to the War Establishment and totalled 157 on 29th January – ranks ranging from WO II down, and including 130 Privates. The deficiencies at that date totalled 126.

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