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War Diary: 10th Battalion Durham Light Infantry

Month and year: July 1944

The 10th Battalion Durham Light Infantry July 1944 war diary covers the battalions time in area west of Caen before being transported to Demouville in TCLs

National Archive Reference: WO 171/1292

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Page 1 of 11
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
1 Jul Established for rest in Parc du Boislonde. In Early hours, our rest was
disturbed by enemy shelling, possibly intended to quieten our mortars in the area.
More shelling during day. News of a counter attack on 1 Tyne Scot in Tessel-
Bretteville area necessitated the moving of the Battalion into defensive positions
north of Fontenay-le-Pesnel. These were positions to give depth to the defence on
the Tessel-Bretteville - Rauray front. When this was done a necessary admin.
programme of baths and washing clothes was carried out as far as practicable. In
the evening, Battalion HQ moved further forward so that they might avoid shelling
in Parc du Boislonde and so obtain full advantage of rest period.Field returns for the Offrs and O.R's. - Appx 1
2 Jul quiet night. Admin. continued but interrupted by a pending move back to
Rauray area. Shelling continued slightly. At 1600 hrs. Battalion left by march route
and relieved 11 D.L.I. and 1 Tyne Scot at Rauray. "D" Coy occupied old "A" Coy
positions and "B" and "C" Coys reoccupied their own previous positions. "A" Coy with
tank support went forward through their own old position to establish themselves
temporarily at Queudeville and then push patrols further forward. At outset, tanks
Page 2 of 11
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
2 Jul brought enemy fire down and our Coy sustained some 6/8 casualties. Before advancing any
distance, spandau fire from a wood on right of advance north of Brettevillette
pinned "A" Coy down. Lt. Ellis with 9 pl. who were on right decided to silence the
opposition and leaving one covering section, attacked into wood vigorously. Reports
say that most of the Platoon were casualties before getting into the wood. Tanks and
our arty meanwhile put down dense smoke screen and "A" Coy withdrew under its cover.
Some of 9 Plattons covering section returned, but no others. Had they been able to
return they would have done so as smoke was thick enough to cover thier withdrawl.
Two-men, returning in the evening, verified death of Lt. Ellis and his serjeant.
3 Jul Rain. Intermittent shelling. At 1600 hrs Battalion was relieved by 6 R.W,Fus
One stray enemy shell killed one man and wounded three "D" Coy whilst they were returning
on relief to Bn. H.Q. Battalion then proceeded by transport to rest area Duoy-St
4/7 Jul Battalion rested under good conditions -good weather in spasms Necessary admin.
carried out and visits to ENSA shows in Bayeaux. During the past few days several
Page 3 of 11
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
reinforcements had joined the Battalion as follows:- S.W.B's 80, Royal Berks 31,
K.SL.I's 40. At 2000hrs 7th Jul Bn. moved to area S.W. of Tilley to relieve 8 D.L.I.
and one Coy of 9 D.L.I. Relief completed approx 0200hrs. 8 Jul.
8 Jul A quiet night - no activity during morning. Slight mortaring area Bn.H.Q. and
"A" Coy early evening causing one or two casualties.Field return for Offrs and O.R's Appx 2
9 Jul During the night reece patrols were sent out from "A", & "B", & C" Coys"
(Lts Morson, McDougall, and Suffron. ) to ascertain if enemy occupied certain wooded
areas. Patrols suffered no casualties and returned with information about enemy
positions and movements. The day passed quietly.
10 Jul At night two more recce patrols went out from "A" and "D" Coys (Lts. Ferrin
and Johnston.) To investigate prescence of enemy in neighbouring areas, and the
patrols were successful with no casualties. At midday, Bn.H.Q. was attacked by
machine gun fire from four enemy fighters (believed Me 109F's. - no damage or
casualties. During the morning two of our snipers went out on patrol from "D" Coy
and a grenade was thrown at them, also a spandau fired one burst. One of the snipers
Page 4 of 11
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
was wounded, but both returned safely. Two other snipers also went out from "A" Coy
and observed and listened for movement and sounds of the enemy. During the day there
was also some slight mortaring of Coy positions.
11 Jul At night two recce patrols went out, one by snipers and the by "C" Coy -
(Capt. Bax and Sgt Welford.) Their objects were to enquire into presense of enemy in
wood 835666 and in orchard 839665, and in particular to obtain information
concerning house in S.W. corner of the wood. Both patrols returned safely with
valuable information.
50 Division began a three phase attack on to Hottot area approx 0700hrs. and
our role in this attack was to come in on phase three and secure a line 200 yds south
of main Juvigny - Hottot road. Accordingly at 0645 hrs. a forward Command Post was
established which was manned from 0715 onwards. Reports were received that phase 1
was successful and our "B" and "C" Coys moved to their F.U.P's. There was delay, and
we heard that a Bn. of 50 Div. had bumped considerable opposition. It was not until
1630. hrs that phases three commenced and our attacks went in. "C" Coy attack was
Page 5 of 11
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
supported by a troop of flame throwing tanks. At 1652 hrs word was received of "C" Coy
success in Phase 1 and later we heard that "B" Coy had made their objective with only
slight opposition. "B" Coy dug in and sent a patrol forward to 840663 which returned
some 2 1/2 hrs later with information re enemy positions. "C" Coy reached their 2nd
objective except for a small orchard and house on their right at 833666. This house
was strongly held by enemy and the Coy had already received heavy cas. from enemy
shelling, mortaring, and S.A.A.
Throughout these attacks enemy mortaring and shelling ws considereable and
most of our cas. (3 and 50) were sustained by C" Coy and originated from this cause"
It seems probable that some of these cas. were indirectly caused by the action of the
Flame throwing tanks. The flame caused a huge cloud of smoke which the enemy fired into
with everything he could. "A" Coy sent a pl. to thicken up "C" Coy who had become rather
thin upon the ground, and who, because 50 Div. had not reached their objective, had had to
Page 6 of 11
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
occupy an additional position to cover their right flank. About 1800 hrs as the
result of a message intercepted by Bde. it was learnt that our forward Command post
had been located by the enemy due we were told, to two attached Commanders discussing
our location over the air in clear. The Sigs offr thought it was due to RDF. Anyway,
whenever our set opened up Mortar fire resulted and a direct hit was sustained upon
a nearby supporting tank and the C.O. decided to remove Command Post back to our
original H.Q. In our two attacks "B" was supported by a squadron of SRY as was also
"C" Coy who in addition had some "Crocodiles" in support. 12 PW'S were taken from
2/986 Regt. and others killed. 231 Bde on our right reached line 814659-828664 after
severe fighting since 0700hrs. The day ended with intermittent mortaring and shelling
and our two forward Coys were holding firmly as follows "C" Coy area 836665 and "B"
Coy area 843668.See Affx 7
12 July The position remained the same with periodical motaring on both sides. At approx
0600 hrs an enemy patrol was ambushed in a small wood and two were killed. One Polish
deserter came over from 976 Regt in the afternoon
Page 7 of 11
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
13 Jul The front remained fairly quiet apart from occasional mortaring, Another
Polish deserter gave himself up to "B" Coy at 0630 hrs. In the evening and during the
night a change over took place between us and the 11 D.L.I. and we occupied positions
in Le Pont Roc area. At 1500 hrs. the enemy threw grenades into "C" Coy area
wounding one Platoon Commander.
14 Jul A quiet restful day. Companies settled in new positions and baths and cinema parties
were organised.
15 Jul Similar conditions prevailed with some slight enemy shelling, but not in our own
immediate area.
16 Jul Preparations were made for a seemimgly long stay in our present positions, with
the start of daily P.T. parades, Piat firing, and route marches to be organised during
the week. However later in the day word was received for us to stand to as from 0630
17 Jul to be ready if necessary to support an intended attack by 11 D.L.I. and 1 T.S.
The day was noteworthy for one of our very heavy arty barrages. The enemy
retaliated periodically with shelling, and especially during the night, when some shells
Page 8 of 11
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
16 Jul (contd) fell in Bn HQ Area.
The arrival and distribution of ou first N.A.A.F.I. supplies was very welcome, incl one bottle of
beer per man.
17 Jul We remained in LE PONT ROC Area, as the attack did not go through. Various adm parades were held.
Late at night, enemy planes dropped bombs and propaganda leaflets in Bn area, but no damage or cas
were reported.
18 Jul Nothing fresh to report, and conditions generally quiet. Owing to the enemy withdrawing on part of
the front, 1 T.S. advanced without opposition and 11 D.L.I. after being held up by mines and booby traps
19 Jul At midday we left to relieve 4 Lincolns in area of VENDES, and the change over was completed by 1900
There was a fair amount of enemy shelling during the night, which caused a few casualties in "S" and
"B" Coy. At night we sent out a patrol to obtain information about the enemy on our front, which
returned safely.
20 Jul We maintained a defensive role in the same posns. Apart from occasional shelling there was nothing
to report on our front. During the day our snipers went right forward of "A" and "D" Coys and at night
a fighting patrol left from "D" Coy area to see if enemy occupied certain buildings, and if so, to
Page 9 of 11
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
20 Jul (contd) obtain a prisoner, but nothing was seen or heard.
21 Jul Very wet and muddy. During the day we were relieved by 5 E. Lancs, and went back to area of JERUSALEM
The chande over was complete by evening.
22 Jul A day of general adm - baths, washing of clothes, etc. Our second supply of bottled beer and N.A.A.F.
goods arrived. The C.O. and I.O. made a recce of our future posns in the CAEN sector.
23 Jul Some preparations made for our move tomorrow to the CAEN sector of the front. The remmants of our Bn
band gave a short musical programme at each coy in the evening.
24 Jul The Bn left at 0500 hrs in T.C.Ls for a conc area just EAST of DEMOUVILLE 1167. We arrived at 0900 hrs
and dug in. During the night our posns were bombed by enemy planes, and one or two vehs were slightly
damaged.See Appx 8.
25 Jul At 0900 hrs the Bn commenced to move out of conc area by coys in order to relieve 2 Warwicks in posns
N.W. of EMIEVILLE. The change over was complete by 1100 hrs. During the day we were subjected to
heavy and concentrated shelling and mortaring which continued at night. Casualties, 1 killed and 10
injured. Late at night, too, an enemy plane came over our area dropping flares. At midday, two of
Page 10 of 11
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
25 Jul (contd) our snipers in "A" Coy area reported some enemy digging in along the edge of a wood, and observed an 88
mm gun protruding at corner of wood. During the night, we sent out 3 patrols fom "A", "B" and "C" Coys
to enquire into presence of enemy in certain areas and to maintain contact with "B" Coy, 1 SUFFOLKS, which
suffered no casualties and gained their objects.
26 Jul Intermittent enemy shelling during the night. From 1015 - 1030, Bn HQ Area was heavily shelled and
mortared, and again from 1325 - 1335, when "B" Coy carriers were also hit and set on fire, and 3
casualties resulted. Between 1345 and 1530 hrs the shelling around Bn HQ was heavy
and almost continous, with Nebelwefers active as well, but in the evening conditions quietened down
considerably, Total Cas 15.
27 Jul The eneny shelling was resumed from 0115 to 0120, and was followed by an enemy plane bombing Bn HQ and
Coy areas at 0130. Houses in front of "D" Coy were bit and a fighting patrol of ours suffered cas -
1. Offr and 4 ORS. Our two patrols which were out during the night encountered no enemy.
During the day there was intermitten shelling of our posns, heavy at times, but no damage or cas were
A patrol of 3 of our snipers was out from 0930 to 1630, and observed 3 enemy and dug-outs in area
Race track 141663.
Page 11 of 11
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
28 Jul In the early hours enemy aircraft were again active over the Bn area strafing and dropping some bombs,
also periodical shelling continued. A fighting and recce patrol were out during the night, but had
nothing to report. Enemy shelling was again frequent by day. A sniper patrol of 2 ORs was out from 0930
to 2200 hrs and brought in some useful infm about enemy activity and the siting of enemy gun posns. At
2300 hrs two or three enemy planes dropped H.E. bombs in Bn area,Field Return for Offrs and OR's - Appx 5
29 Jul Our fighting patrol returned at 0345 hrs without a prisoner or identification. Enemy shelling persisted
at roughly hourly intervals during the night, and periodically by day. About 2300 hrs a few enemy
aircraft came over our posns and three or four bombs were dropped, but none in the immediate vicinity
30 Jul Our night patrols once more returned with negative reports. Approx 25 shells landed in Bn HQ area between
midnight and 0500 hrs, and at 0530 another enemy plane flew over from the direction of the enemy lines,
strafing and dropping one bomb. Enemy shelling and mortaring decreased considerably during the day. Two
sniper patrols were out between 1000hrs and 1600 hrs to try to contact the enemy in front of our fwd coys
and one patrol fired at 3 enemy, the leading man of which was seen to drop, probably killed or wounded.
31 Jul There was renewed slight energy shelling during the night. One fighting patrol was sent out to try to
obtain a prisoner and for identification, but was unsuccessful, and further sniper patrols by day failed
to make contact but in the late evening our patience and vigilance were rewarded when 3 deserters (Poles)
came over to "A" Coy, and were found to belong to the 980 Regt, 272 Div.