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    War Diary: 1st Battalion Buckinghamshire Regiment

    Month and year: November 1944

    The 1st Battalion Buckinghamshire Regiment November 1944 war diary covers their time at Saint Jean Barracks mainly in a state of readiness to keep the peace during marches by resistance groups.

    National Archive Reference: WO 171/1269

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    Page 1 of 6
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    BRUSSELS (st Jean Barracks)1amDecided to name the three main gates of the Bks 'HAZEBROUCK' 'WATERLOO' and 'ALBERT in memory of
    our previous visit and fighting in 1940. Signs will be erected in due course. The Bks is somewhat
    of a rabbit warren and is poorly signposted at present. Our signwriter is having a terrific task
    trying to get it all done quickly enough.
    pmGeneral Administration.
    2amStanding orders for Bks issued. Vexed problem of the Det Bks still unsolved and men still here
    awaiting trial.
    Appx "A"
    pmHQ Brussels Gn state arrangements to remove prisoners have been made. Normal routine.
    3amInformed that Reforsec have also moved to BRUSSELS. Contact can now be made regarding getting rid of
    the balance of D Coy "crocks" and also about getting new drafts in as we are 150 short right now.
    pmTold that we are to produce 1 Offr and 24 ORs to take part in celebration at "La Salle des Beaux Arts"
    on 10 & 11 Nov. This was originally being done by D Coy on orders from 21 A Gp but now we are here
    men will be taken from "A" "B" & "C" Coys. Also to produce a further 1 Offr and 24 ORs for local
    march to Tomb of Unknown Warrior in afternoon of 11 Nov
    4amThe case of Pte Smallman and the Church of Scotland Canteen is brought up again. JAG takes summary
    of evidence.
    All prisoners from 30 Corps collected by 205 CRC. 13 in all. Pl.
    pmWe are to provide Pl to help guard the Det Bks at Prince Albert Bks. B Coy provide Pl.
    5amBalance of prisoners collected by a RHU. This now leaves one man who is awaiting promulgation.
    Try to get ruling that this Det Bks is used solely for 1 Bucks. Pending decision we are to take in
    pmComd Offr attended conf to decide on gala performance on 11 Nov. Decided to draw men from "A" "B" &
    "C" Coys equally. Lt Pennington to be IC of party. C Coy with Lt Bonney, MC IC to provide the
    other guard.
    6amOne coy to be at 1 hrs notice as Mobile coy in case of emergency. Our role in the near future is
    likely to be helping the local Gendarmerie disarm the Resistance Movement following an appeal by
    pmGuards can be cut down it is found which relieves the position of NCOs particularly. Decided in view
    of all these external commitments to draw all these small dets from B Coy thus leaving C and A Coys intact.
    7amNotified that all men arrested are to be sent direct to Prince Albert Bks and that this Det Bks is
    solely for use of 1 Bucks. Arrangements being made for all existing prisoners to be transferred
    tomorrow morning. New WE published (advance copy). Collected from HQ Brussels Gn to study.
    Page 2 of 6
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    RUSSELS (st Jean Bks)7pmAdjt visits 34 Pnr Gp to explain total commitments of the Bn here in case of emergency and our having
    to be relieved of them all suddenly to a mobile role when 34 Pnr Gp would be called in to supply all
    8amTold to produce a further party of 1 Offr and 30 ORs for further parade 11 Nov, in the morning!
    Capt BORTON to be IC with Lt MASON and 30 ORs from A Coy.
    pmAll parties rehearsing for performances and getting new BDs and flashes etc sewn on.
    Decided that we will wear now the L of C flash (Blue cross on red background),
    9amBrig Tarleton, DSO, MC, Comd Brussels Gn visits the Barracks. He approved of our suggestion that we
    are allowed a static canteen within the bks supplied by one of the voluntary bodies.
    Appx "B" & "C" Appx "D"
    pmFire and PAD orders issued.
    New WE recvd as originally suggested by Coud Offr and OC 5 Kings. A few minox errors such as total
    LMGs being stated as 21, obviously a typing error. No ACC Cook Sjt and 18 men expected to ride in the
    Sigs 15-swt truck. These will be eradicated before the WE is finally published. Copys made for all
    Coys to read and digest.
    10amFree tickets allotted to coys for Pageant at "Palais des Beaux Arts" for tonight and 11th. Orders to
    produce our suggestions for a Garrison G.1098. QM doing so.
    pmNormal routine.
    2300Message received from HQ Brussels Gn to effect that FI Resistance Movement was believed to be
    planning a march on BRUSSELS tomorrow 11 Nov. Ordered to have our Mobile Coy at immediate notice
    wef 0800 hrs 11 and a further Coy at 30 mins notice to stop any nonsense from the civils etc. C Coy
    (Mobile Coy) notified but in view of all these parades in which we are taking part tomorrow
    composite coys are made up as follows: 2 pls C Coy, 1 pl B Coy all under comd C Coy form Mobile Coy
    at immediate notice. 1 pl B Coy, 1 pl A Coy with 1 pl C Coy up to noon (the afternoon demonstration
    Pl) and 1 pl A Coy from noon onwards (also morning demonstration Coy).
    11amA Coy did the celebration march with its pl of 30 men - much cheering from the crowd. Lt Pennington
    and his mixed pl of 24 after doing one performance in "Palais des Beaux Arts" last night rehearsed
    again this morning for the big show this evening. The whole Bn is either demonstrating, at immediate
    notice, at 30 mins notice or doing duties. No distrubances so far from the FI boys.
    pmA Maj J.W.SENIOR posted to us by Reforsec. This seems very odd as we are already up to strength.
    We have beem out of touch with Reforsec for some time now and it looks as though they've got in a
    muddle again. A visit is indicated! Major H.C Le Neve Foster officially appointed as 2IC to Bn.
    1645Pl of C Coy under Lt Bonney MC do their slow march in the procession to the Unknown Warrior's Tomb
    down the Rue de Congres. Raining the whole time which made it all a bit unpleasant. An alert
    went in the middle of the ceremony and a buzz-bomb was heard to fall in the distance.
    Page 3 of 6
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    BRUSSELS (st Jean Bks)111645Some Belgian drummers appeared at the last moment and did the queerest things in the way of
    beating time which rather foxed everyone at first. However Lt Bonney ignored them and set his own
    pace which was very wise. Ceremony went off very successfully.
    120800Mobile Reserve Coy stood down with no incidents reported.
    pmNormal routine.
    130130Message received from HQ Brussels Garrison that D-day for Internal Security Scheme was 19 Nov.
    Also that FFI marchers proposed to march to Brussels on 15 Nov 44. Orders issued to us to provide
    precautions as before. Internal Security plan ready for issue to Coys.
    pmAdjt visits Reforsec and finds them doing inter-office change over. Not very helpful. Learns that
    War Office has been notified that at present rate and going on existing categories allowed etc.,
    Gn Bns will take 12 months to complete to strength!!
    Letter from HQ L of C states we are to be made up by 24 Nov 44!!
    14amVisit to Reforsec. New offrs promised but ORs will not be forthcoming until December at the
    earliest. Difficulty in getting required specialists. Major Senior posted to us by Reforsec. "A"
    Branch has ordered the posting.
    pmSaw DAAG Brussels Gn about Major Senior. He is going to see "A" Bra and try and get it cancelled
    before joining. Standing Orders Pt IV Sects 1 and 2 issued (Administration)
    Appx "E"
    2330Letter received from Brussels garrison today saying there is to be a march of 2/3,000 men through
    Brussels today by the Royalist Resistance Movement to lay wreaths on tombs etc. Asked for reps from
    Br Anny to attend. This refused as involved politics. Rumaurs again that FFI are to march on
    Brussels tomorrow, but SHAEF discount rumours. Emergency arrangements stand as at present - one coy
    immediate notice and one coy 30 mins notice.
    15amDecided to give a childrens' party in Dec sometime. Committee formed - President Capt Low. call outs. Appx "F"
    pmNormal routine - no disturbances or call outs.
    16amInternal security Instrs issued. one extra coy put at 30 mins notice as from midday until these further
    orders. Arms being collected by Gendarmerie and handed in by FFI are kept and stored in these Bks.
    We provide guard over them.
    Appx "G"
    pmLetter received from Gn re the ceremonial on 11 Nov. Locals apparantly thought it was a good show.Appx "H"
    17amTold that D-Coy is to return to us tomorrow being relieved by 219 Coy Pnr Corps. This is for
    security reasons as Bn at full strength is considered necessary to deal with the civils.
    6 tanks, 6 and cars and A Sqn of 52 Recce Regt arrive to bolster up the show. All billetted here
    incl 100 men.
    pmConf for all offrs and Comds on proposals for combatting the FFI. D-day is still the 19th.
    Page 4 of 6
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    BRUSSELS (st Jean Bks)180900Conf for Coy Comds, Tank CO and Recce CO. Political aspect explained and our job is to disarm
    a procession of FFI who propose to march through the town on Sunday, saluting the Tomb of the Unknown
    Warrior and hissing and booing, and generally being unpleasant before the various ministries and
    public offices. All plans are laid.
    1130Comd Offr attends High Level Conf at which precisely nothing is settled.
    1415Comd Offr attends another High Level Conf in the hope of getting something definite as to policy
    to be adopted for future operations in respect of collecting the arms in from the FFI who refuse to
    give them up. Proposed that 2 coys of the Bn plus a few tanks shall parade through the streets to
    give a show of strength. Coys etc held at immediate readiness.
    1600Still no news of display of strength, everyone S till standing by!
    1800Comd Offr holds cont of Coy Comds, Tank and Recce COs and Belgian LOs, explains new position. No
    display of force now required. 3 plans proposed according to March Route procession adopts.
    190900All Bn and att troops standing by embussed ready to move.
    1000News comes through that column is forming up about 5,000 strong - unarmed. Procession starts,
    everything perfectly orderly.
    1200Procession disperses after spreches - no trouble at all.
    1230Bn and att troops put at 2-hrs notice with one coy 1 Bucks at 30 mins notice as Mobile Reserve Coy.
    Tps at 2 hrs notice allowed out for 12 hrs at a time. All tps to report to their Coy Office every 1 1/2 hrs.
    1800Advised by Brussels Gn that Resistance Movement is now willing to hand in their arms to Br Military.
    Ordered to receive them at this Barracks.
    1900State of readiness amended to 1 coy at 2 hrs notice remainder at 6 hrs notice.Appx "I"
    20amArms and amn pour in to the Bks all day from every source.
    pmNotified that we are to provide the Guard on 21 A Gp Main again as the Coy of Pnrs is moving out.
    D Coy to find the guard tomorrow commencing 1600 hrs. Guard to be a Bn duty not D Coy only as
    before. It will be run from here and not 'L'Ecole Militaire'.
    21amNormal routine.
    pmInstr issued to Duty Coy and Mobile Coy in view of new guard commitments at 21 A Gp Main.
    Question of Inlying Picquet offr to be present at Ecole Militaire raised with 21 A Gp. Pending
    decision one offr is sent instead of 2 as originally required.
    Appx "J"
    22amNew drill instr received from Regtl Committee - most of it does not apply to this Bn but "Dismissing
    with Arms" does - amendment issued to Bn standing Orders on Drill.
    Appx "K"
    Page 5 of 6
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    BRUSSELS (st Jean Bks)22pmInlying Picquet at Ecole Militaire now to be 2 offres. Instructions issued.Appx "L"
    1700All arns taken from Resistance members direct will be accepted by a Field Offr - OC Mobile Coy detailed
    23amAmendment No 2 issued to Bn standing Orders - documentation.Appx "M
    pmArrangements made for bloodtests to be made in order to obtain blood donors where possible.Appx "N"
    24amBlood tests taken - 100% of correct gp volunteers to give blood.
    pmNormal routine.
    25amIn view of procession which is scheduled for today, Mobile Coy and 2 additional coys are put at
    2 hrs notice and confined to bks - this is becoming a regular weekend feature which is likely to
    continue until well into 1946!
    1430Reports of shooting between the procession and the Gendarmeries - the procession started flinging
    the odd grenade at the Gendarmes - most of which failed to go off - but one or two did which the
    Gendarmes resented rather and immediately opened fire on the culprits with MGs. BBC reports cas as
    4 dead and 34 injured but local reports say 2 dead and about 12 injured. During this fracas all three
    coys brought to immediate notice.
    1600As nothing further heard one coy put at 30 minutes other 2 at 2 hrs again.
    1700Informed that the tanks are coming back here again - just in case - and the Recce Sqn is to remain
    instead of going as already arranged - trouble expected tomorrow.
    26amNo trouble up to 1200 hrs. Beautiful day, just the weather for a nice quiet riot. Standing by as before.
    pmStanding by. Lt MH Rees returns from UK. from Bisley SA Course.
    27amAs from 0800 hrs pressure relaxed - mobile coy at 2 hrs notice remainder 6 hrs. Capt Tait and party
    of "X" Coy arrive here at last. Lt MH Rees appointed WTO and Asst Adjt.
    pmNormal routine.
    280945All trams except those from one Depot are an strike. Large meeting of Resistance Boys begins.
    Apprehension grows eorrespondingly and as usual one coy plus tanks and recce cars etc put at
    Immediate Notice. Remainder at 2 hrs notice. All confined to bks.
    1500Information received that Resistance Gps were heading for Brussels from Mons. C Coy embussed and
    sent out on Mons road to join up with Gendarmes at an unspecified bridge to stop the onrush,
    disarm the men and allow men to proceed. Remainder of Bn plus attachments - tanks and recce - RVd
    by the Ministeries in Rue Ducale with head at Rue de la Loi. Recce patrols sent out to look for
    signs of crowds - none seen. C Coy out of touch by wireless. No Gendarmes were manning any bridge so
    C Coy after waiting at HAL sometime came back to bks after phoning Brussels Gn.
    1800Bn returned to Bks - no activity.
    Page 6 of 6
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    BRUSSELS (st Jean Bks)2030DAPM of 4 L of C arrives with 15-cwt full of arms, obtained from Resistance movement who had been
    stopped at HAL and disarmed by CMP. All done very amicably with no scene or fuss.
    29amEveryone at 30 mins notice. All meetings and processions banned by Govt so maybe all will be well
    from now on.
    pmWhole Bn still at 30 mins notice. No excitements.
    1800All except Mobile Coy and armd cars put at 2 hrs notice. Tps allowed out for spells of 2 hrs at a
    30amEveryone put at 6 hrs notice except one coy and attachments - almost back to normal.
    pmNormal routine.