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    War Diary: 10th Battalion Durham Light Infantry

    Month and year: August 1944

    The 10th Battalion Durham Light Infantry August 1944 war diary starts with the units actions East of Caen and finishes with the disbandment of the battalion commencing

    National Archive Reference: WO 171/1292

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    Page 1 of 6
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    FRANCE1 AugA quiet day, with only slight enemy shelling and mortaring. Between
    0500 and 0600 hrs our Standing Patrol reported several enemy seen, and
    the body of a dead Boche was also found, who had belonged to a Recce Unit.
    2 AugSlight shelling up to 0200 hrs. Our patrols returning at 0500 hrs, re-
    ported enemy seen digging in a certain Wood, also a few further enemy
    positions located. Conditions remained quite by day, but at 2315 hrs
    two guns fired a 20 shell Stonk on the Bn Area. This was followed
    20 mins later by several salvoes from Panzerwerfers, and there was one
    3 AugA fighting patrol during the night raided an enemy post. but had to leave
    one man behind and believed prisoner, Another wounded main was brought
    back safely. Two snipers went out during the morning but found no trace
    of the man left behind. There was periodical mortaring and shelling of
    our positions up to mid-day with a heavy and sharp attack on Bn HQ at
    1215 hrs. In the late evening "A" Coy reported two enemy having been
    seen in some houses near their positions, At night a party left from
    the Bn for the newly formed Rest Camp close to A2 Ech while others were
    selected to visit the Corps Rest Camp.
    4 AugShortly after midnight an energy 'plane dropped four bombs in the Bn Area
    causing on casualty. At 0145 hrs "C" and "D" Coys reported heavy Spandau
    fire across their front, to which "D" Coy replied with L.M.G. fire from
    their Standing Patrol. There was only very slight enemy shelling during
    the 24 hrs. Between late afternoon and midnight an inter-coy change-over
    took place, "B" Coy relieving "A" Coy and "D" Coy relieving "C" Coy.
    5 AugOur Recce Patrols came back with nothing fresh to report. The day passed
    without incident apart from occasional shelling, and a Polish Deserter being
    brought in by "C" Coy Standing Patrol at 2100 hrs, from the 711 Div.
    731 PGR Regt.
    Page 2 of 6
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    6 AugAfter a fairly quite spell the enemy resumed his shelling of our Bn Area
    in the early hours and in the afternoon and evening it was frequently heavy,
    but 10 casualties wore reported,
    7 AugPeriodical shelling of our positions. Our fighting patrols encountered
    no enemy on a near objective, but they were fired on by Spandau, and later
    enemy shell and mortar fire was brought down on them after verey light
    signals - believed to be enemy D.F. fire. At 0200 hrs "C" Coy reported
    that their right forward section had been attacked by 12 or more enemy.
    The section withdrew to area houses 137655, claiming to have killed two
    Boche after enemy had thrown grenades and opened up with Spandau from either
    flank. The enemy were reported still in possession of post at 0500 hrs
    but during the day Bn snipers sent out on patrol reported no movement or
    sounds. Accordingly "C" Coy prepared to retake the post at 2230 hrs and
    did so without opposition, the enemy having withdrawn. Just before mid
    night an enemy place came over Bn Area for a few mins and dropped two bombs.
    8 AugFurther shelling and mortaring but no casualties reported. Our patrol
    reported enemy rifle and Spandau fire and heard digging. By day, both Bn
    and Coy snipers were out forward, contacting no enemy but finding signs of
    recent occupation in some houses. Late at night an enemy plane flew
    over out positions but no bombs were dropped.
    9 AugIntermittent shelling throughout the night. No damage or casualties
    Our patrols brought in no fresh information in the early morning, but in
    the afternoon patrols were sent out forward of "B" and "C" Coys to gain
    contact with the enemy. The "B" Coy patrol under Lt Christenson went
    deep into the Woods opposite their positions without locating the enemy,
    but encountered a number of mines. Unfortunately, before the patrol could
    withdraw, Pte Kemp stepped on a mine and was fatally injured whilst Lt
    Christenson received a wound in the arm.
    Page 3 of 6
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    9 Aug(Contd)The "C" Coy patrol under Lt J.D. Johnston came under fire shortly after
    leaving the Coy Area and withdrew under cover of smoke, with two casualties,
    neither serious. The activity of the patrols caused considerable shelling
    and mortaring in the Bn area.
    10 AugDuring the night patrol under Lt Seggie located 4 enemy Spandaus as well
    as reporting on a large area of the front being clear. Some shelling and
    mortaring of the Bn Area throughout the day but no damage or casualties,
    By day, sniper patrols went forward of our F.D.Is but they came under
    fire from the enemy before they had gone very far. Before returning
    however, several mines were lifted and brought back and may others rendered
    harmless. At 1230 hrs "C" Coy reported that they had fired at and believed
    killed an enemy sniper. Later a patrol went forward but failed to find
    the body.
    11 AugHeavy shelling of Bn Area during the night but no casualties or damage
    reported. Night patrols gave locations of several Spandaus and a patrol
    sent out by "B" Coy by day captured 2 PW from 7 Coy, 857 GR, 346 Inf Div.
    Enemy opposition was 10 strong and we had one man wounded, who had, unfortunately
    to be left behind. At 1840 hrs "B" Coy reported a "silent" mortar
    bomb falling in their area, which gave no sound in flight. There was
    intermittent shelling and mortaring by day.
    12 AugAt 0330 hrs a Polish Deserter came over to our lines and gave himself up
    to our forward section of Carriers. He belonged to 7 Coy, 857 Regt.
    There was only slight shelling and mortaring during the night.
    At 0830 hrs a Coy change-over commenced, "C" Coy relieving "A" Coy and
    "D" Coy changing with "B" Coy. Our snipers were active by day and one
    patrol shot one Boche believed killed and collected some valuable German
    equipment. There was a notable decrease in enemy shelling and mortaring.
    Page 4 of 6
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    13 AugSlight mortaring and shelling during the night. A standing patrol from
    "A" Coy brought in a fresh Spandau location. Increased enemy shelling was
    reported through the day by our forward positions, but very few shells
    fell in the Bn Area, In the afternoon "B" Coy sent out a Fighting Patrol
    of 1 Sjt and 5 ORs with a section as support group to attack an enemy post
    under cover of smoke. The post was wiped out, a Spandau destroyed and
    two PW taken. The remaining 4 Boche were killed by Sten and Bren gun fire.
    Our troops suffered no casualties, PW were from 7 Coy, 857 GR. Earlier
    3 Boche were driven out of an outpost by some of our snipers and one was
    believed wounded.
    14 AugA Recce Patrol from "C" Coy at night was followed by a Boche Patrol and
    heavily shelled. There was some shelling and mortaring during the day.
    In the morning a sniper patrol saw 4 enemy, believed to be a working party
    and fired at them but could not observe results.
    15 AugA comparatively quite day with nothing to report if importance. Our usual
    patrols were out during the night and also sniper patrols by day, but they
    saw no signs of any enemy. Also there was only very slight mortaring and
    shelling. The last PW we had taken had stated that their units were
    preparing to pull out from the front and it now seemed as if their report
    was correct.
    16 AugA very quite night with no enemy mortaring or shelling and everything
    appeared to indicate that the enemy had withdrawn. At 1600 hrs the
    Bn moved out of the positions we had been occupying for three weeks and
    proceeded in transport to BRAY-LA-CAMPAGNE, where we dug in for the night.
    17 AugBn left at 0900 hrs and marched some three or four miles to pick up transport
    and then continued as far as MAGNY-LA-CAMPAGNE. During the day several
    French civilians were brought in to Bn HQ as suspected enemy agents
    but they were allowed to proceed after questioning.
    Page 5 of 6
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    17 Aug(Contd)Towards dusk, two enemy planes flew over, apparently on a recce, but
    nothing resulted during the night.
    18 AugWe were on the move again at 0800 hrs, leaving by march route and advanced
    as fas as MEZIDON, which had recently been cleared of the enemy. After
    a short rest we pushed on further Eastwards until we suddenly bumped into
    opposition near the village of LE-MESNIL-MAUGER when the enemy began
    mortaring the main road. "A" Coy shortly supported by "B" Coy advanced
    into the village and contacted the enemy, a battle developing for the high
    ground, MT LA VIGME to the North East. At 2030 hrs "G" and "D" Coys
    put in an attack supported by arty and smoke and we gained a foothold on
    the forward slopes finally securing the objective after heavy fighting.
    Throughout the action enemy mortar and shell fire was heavy and concentrated
    and we suffered a good many casualties. "B" Coy under Bn IC were
    ordered on to MT LA VIGNE to help hold it.
    19 AugIn the early hours the enemy brought up reinforcements and put in a string
    counter-attack at 0430 hrs. A fierce action took place, many casualties
    occurring on both sides. Eventually the Bn 2 IC was forced to withdraw
    the remnants of "B", "C" and "D" Coys which he did successfully against
    heavy odds. Shelling and mortaring of Bn HQ Area took place at intervals
    throughout the night, In addition, enemy aircraft were active and dropped
    bombs. We suffered heavy casualties and at one time "A" Coy were completely
    cut off and had to fight their way out. At 1000 hrs the Bn withdrew
    to positions about a mile in the rear while units of 146 Bde moved up to
    relieve 70 Bde. Later in the day the Bn moved in transport to a rest
    area near ARGENCES.
    20 AugWe remained in the rest area and made the most of the quite conditions
    in excellent weather.
    Page 6 of 6
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    21 AugContinuous rain all day. In the Late afternoon the Bn moved in Bde Coln
    to another rest area near THURY HARCOURT and got settled in billlets in the
    village of LA METATRIE. During the day a search party went out over the
    area of our recent battle and buried several bodies.
    22 AugWith an improvement in the weather, there was an opportunity to wash and dry
    clothes etc and a party also went to a ENSA Concert.
    23 AugThe weather still kelp good and boating was much enjoyed in a nearby river.
    24 AugThe Bn spent most of the day cleaning up. A band concert by the band of
    the East Lancs Regt was much enjoyed.
    25 AugWeather still very warm. More swimming parties, also ENSA and cinema shows.
    A bath and change of clothing was had by most of the Bn.
    26 AugToday the disbandment of the Bn commenced.
    2 Officers and 116 ORs were posted to 6 D.L.I.
    2 Officers and 113 ORs were posted to 8 D.L.I.
    2 Officers and 121 ORs were posted to 5 Bn East Yorks Regt.
    3 Officers and 118 ORs were posted to 9 D.L.I.