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    War Diary: 10th Battalion Durham Light Infantry

    Month and year: June 1944

    The 10th Battalion Durham Light Infantry June 1944 war diary covers the units embarkation at East India Docks, arrival in Normandy at Le Hamel and advance inland to Rauray

    National Archive Reference: WO 171/1292

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    Page 1 of 7
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    1/4 JunAt the beginning of the month the Bn. was stationed at Riddlesworth Park Camp,
    Thetford, Norfolk, where it had been for some four months. During this time, much
    valuable training had been carried out in all aspects of Warfare and in particular,
    practice in fighting in close wooded country had heen made possible by the nature of
    the country. The early days of June were employed in carrying out final checks to
    ensure complete operational readiness and in resting. Most Coy Comds. took their Coys
    out for short non-operational Camps.Field returns for officers and ORs attached (appendix 1)
    Advance Party.
    5/11JunLeft for Marshalling area and on night of 8/9 Jun embarked at East India Docks,
    London, sailing on the evening of 10 Jun and landing in France in the late evening
    of 11 Jun.
    Vehicle Party.
    6/13 JunLeft for its Marshalling area at Woodford, Essex. On arrival, vehicles were
    waterproofed for the voyage, the final stages of waterproofing being completed on
    8th Jun. On 9th. Jun, they embarked at East India Docks and the following day their
    Page 2 of 7
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    craft moved up the Thames Estuary and lay off Southend pier. On the evening of 11 Jun
    they finally sailed and having remained on board off Le Hamel for some 24hrs, they
    disembarked in France on 13 Jun and joined the Bn. in the Conc. Area at St. Gabriel.
    7/13 JunOn 7 Jun the Marching troops left Thetford by train in the morning and later in
    the day reached the marshalling area at Firle north of New Haven. There, conditions
    were admirable and there were adequate facilities for recreation and resting. The Bn.
    remained there, making final preparations and briefing until 11 Jun, when, at 1330 hrs
    it left by road for Newhaven and embarked on three L.C.I's (L). At 2200 hrs the craft
    sailed and apart from experiencing a roughish sea, the crossing was uneventful. All
    L.C.L's (L) did not land at the same time and Bn. parties came ashore at Le Hamel
    independently, and by 1700 hrs. on June 12, the Bn. was fully concentrated in the
    St. Gabriel area. The vehicles joined gradually and had all arrived by the morning
    of June 13.
    A stay at St. Gabriel of some 24hrs. ensued, during which time "dog fights"
    were frequently witnessed, and, whilst having the satisfaction of seeing several Hun
    Page 3 of 7
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    planes brought down, we learned respect for the German A/A fire.
    14 JunThe Bn. being temporarily under command of the 146 Bde, moved up in the
    afternoon to Conde-Sur-Seules and the remainder of 70 Bde formed up as Div Reserve.
    15 JunThe Bn. remained at Conde and witnessed further aerial activity.
    16 JunRealising the need for 100% efficiency in fighting in the villages and very
    close country in which we now found ourselves, a house and wood clearing practice
    was organised, but the two Companies who commenced it were recalled about noon when
    the Bn. left by road for Le Pont Roc. There the Bn. was deployed defensively and
    had its first taste of enemy mortar fire which caused 6 casualties in "D" Coy.
    16/17 JunSnipers were sent out and patrols to "feel" for the enemy with the particular
    object of finding out his strength in the TILLY and ST PIERRE areas. A standing
    patrol was out during the night. On the morning of Jun 17, a patrol was sent
    into ST PIERRE to see if it was occupied by the enemy and reported that it was
    empty except for some odd snipers.
    At 1600 the Bn attacked ST PIERRE. Heavy mortar fire was encountered on
    Page 4 of 7
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    the slopes leading down to the village and more opposition than expected was met with. This came
    mainly from a wood practically on D Coy objective. B Coy though delayed, reached its objective and
    17dug in, next morning, D Coy put in an attack on the wood, The attack
    revealed the presence of some 50 enemy with spandaus. D Coy brought the Hun to his knees but expended
    their amn. in doing so and were forced to leave the job uncompleted at the moment when complete
    victory seemed assured,
    During this time, St. Pierre was securely held to accompaniment of heavy Mortar and Spandau
    fire from the enemy.
    18 JunC Coy prepared in the morning to attack the wood which had troubled us yesterday and from which
    spandau fire was coming intermittantly. Whilst doing so the enemy launched a counter attack with a
    few tanks on our left front. This was driven off eventually and C Coy proceeded with their attack,
    which proved entirely successful and few casual were sustained.
    Enemy Shelling and mortaring continued throughout the day. Three prisoners were taken.
    18/19 JunAt night a patrol of 1 Offr. and 1 O.R. (Lt Johnston) went out to a quarry at 855678 to
    ascertain whether the enmy had a position there. The patrol returned with one prisoner, a Pole,
    Page 5 of 7
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    who talked freely and the occupation of certain positions the enemy was confirmed,
    20 JunMortaring and counter mortaring. Mortar and arty fire brought on to quarry-subject of last
    nights patrol-which was apparently silenced.
    20/21 JunAt night a patrol went out which clashed with the enemy and obtained inf. re their defensive
    layouts Bn. HQ. bombed by enemy aircraft, A large crater some 50 yds away showed considerable
    good fortune on examination the next day as no casualties sustainedAppendix 2 King's message
    21 JunMortaring and shelling continied with counter-bty work
    21/22 JunThree patrols went out - one with intention of forstalling the enemy by arriving at a known
    position of theres before they did. On approach enemy spandaus opened up. Erratic shooting by enemy
    and instant action by patrol saved lives, but one fatal caualty resulted. Patrol indicted a
    22 Junpermanent enemy position there and in the afternoon a platoon of A Coy attacked this position with full
    support from supporting arms. The attack was entirely successful and excellently carried out. Some 25
    of the enemy were the killed and three prisoners were taken
    but whilst on the objective two enemy tanks fired on our men at close range from Montilly wood area and they were forced
    to withdraw, One of our 6 pdrs opened up and claimed to have knocked out a tank before being itself
    knocked out. A platoon of C Coy then relieved A's platoon. 17 pdrs failed to provide a solution and
    Page 6 of 7
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    position remained undecided. Late in evening, tanks heard withdrawing under cover of their own
    mortar fire, Patrols again went out during the night.
    23/25 JunIntermittent shelling and mortaring causing a few casualties, and our own counter bty work continued
    A standing patrol to prevent infiltration out each night, Lines prepared for attack. 146 Bde
    25 Jun0415attacked through us with 70 Bde forming a firm base - 4 Lines passed through our Bn positions and we
    gave them fire support. During this attack, which was entirely successful, a heavy mist slowed up
    everything and all our positions were heavily mortared and shelled.appendix 3 10 DLI O.O No.1.
    2230In the evening, Bn, H.Q. moved up to 849685 and A and B. Coys moved futher forward to half-moon
    shaped wood
    26 JunThree patrols sent out during morning to Fontenay - Juvigny road to ascertain whereabouts of
    enemy and one of these entered Juvigny and reported prescence of enemy there and killed two.
    26/27 JunAt night a patrol probed the enemy side of the Juvigny - Fontenay road and brought back valuable
    information sustaining one casualty and wounding two Huns.
    27 Jun0800Bn Moved to Fonteney where it awaited news of a further attack to secure ground around La Gde
    Ferme by 4 Lincs. This took longer than was thought and Bn Moved for night into Conc area at St
    Page 7 of 7
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    Nicholas farm. 11.D.L.I. attacked Rauray.
    28 Jun11. D.L.I's attack on Rauray had stopped on the far edge of the village and at 1000 hrs. the Bn.
    advanced to Rauray. - C. Coy leading to secure the start line. Some opposition met there, Attack went in
    with one ten Sherwood Rangers in support. A Coy. was shelled on start line. However objectives were reached and Bn. dug in.
    Shelling and mortaring continued
    29 JunEnemy Counter attack with tanks firing but still concealed. Buildings near Bn. H.Q were hit
    and casualties resulted. A and B (forward) Coys heavily shelled and mortared - Enemy Inf
    advance against B Coy but were beaten off largely by mortar fire. C Coy had to deal with enemy infiltration during afternoon.
    30 JunMortaring and shelling continuously. Counter Bty work Relieved in evening by T.S. and
    we returned for a rest to Parc du Boislonde area.