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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
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
FRANCE 1 Aug A 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 Aug Slight 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 Aug A 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 Aug Shortly 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 Aug Our 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
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
6 Aug After 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 Aug Periodical 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 Aug Further 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 Aug Intermittent 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
Place Date Hour Summary 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 Aug During 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 Aug Heavy 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 Aug At 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
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
13 Aug Slight 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 Aug A 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 Aug A 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 Aug A 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 Aug Bn 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
Place Date Hour Summary 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 Aug We 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 Aug In 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 Aug We remained in the rest area and made the most of the quite conditions
in excellent weather.
Page 6 of 6
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
21 Aug Continuous 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 Aug With 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 Aug The weather still kelp good and boating was much enjoyed in a nearby river.
24 Aug The Bn spent most of the day cleaning up. A band concert by the band of
the East Lancs Regt was much enjoyed.
25 Aug Weather 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 Aug Today 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.