War Diary: 1st Battalion South Lancashire Regiment

Month and year: June 1944

1st Battalion South Lancashire Regiment June 1944 War Diary covers their landing at Queen Red and their advance to area CHATEAU de la LONDE.

National Archive Reference: WO 171/1332

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Page 1 of 18
PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
A5, Cowplain, Nr. Portsmouth.June1Final briefing within Bn for operation OVERLORD.
Exhaustive check by coys of arms, equipment kit.
2 Final preparations. Coys disperse to marshalling camps.
Transit A1 - LSIs.3Battalion left marshalling camp, embussed for VICTORIA BARRACKS, PORTSMOUTH
Mustered there before marching to quayside to embark in serial loads on
small coasting vessels, plying between LSIs 70, 71 and 72 and quay.
Embarkation on LSIs complete by 5 pm.
On board ship.4Day spent quietly aboard ship. Craft serials practiced in manning LCAs,
taking up emergency stations. Weather uncertain, D Day expected to be
postponed.
On board ship.5Operation postponed 24 hrs. Quiet day on board ship, PT and lectures in
progress. No incidents.
22.30Assembly of craft weighed anchor and steamed out of harbour.
No enemy interference during night, fleet pursuing steady course SW.
before turning to reach lowering position at dawn, thus keeping out of
range of coastal batteries as long as possible.
Page 2 of 18
PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
LANDING BEACH QUEEN RED (App. A.)60545First wave (A & C Coys) lowered and left LSI.
0720First wave beached and although met by heavy MG fire and mortaring madeCasualties.
satisfactory progress. Communications with A & C Coys established by wire-KILLED.
less on run-in, and progress report obtained by Bn HQ.Ltcol RPH Burbury. T/Maj RH Harrison.
0745Second wave (Bn HQ, HQ Coy, B & D Coys) touched down, met by small armsLieut. RC Bell-Walker Liteut. C Relph.
fire, mortar and 88 mm. Landing made almost on strongpoint COD, which wasLieut. WGH Allen.
still active, Bn HQ moved towards sand-dunes near 88 mm gun posn, and whilst
endeavouring to directoperations, the CO, Ltcol RRH Burbury wa.s killed
and 13 ORS.
Major Stope assuming command of the Bn. B Coy proceeded to deal with
strong-point COD; their Coy Comd, Major RH Harrison, was killed immediately
WOUNDED.
on landing. Lt RC Bell-Walker assumed command, but was killed during
attack on pillbox. Opposition overcome, apart from isolated snipers, B
T/Maj JF Harward, Capt, AH Eggeling
and D Coys advanced towards HERMANVILLE-sur-MER. Bn HQ followed along
main axis, up main road. During the period on the beach, contact was lost
Lieut. NT Parry. Lieut, RW Pearce, MC
with coys due to losses sustained by signallers, or wireless becoming
detached, with their operators.
Lieut. FR Ashcroft. Lieut. G Wilson.
HERMANVILLE SUR-MER. (M.S. 40/18SW) 0748020900HERMANVILLE taken, and Bn HQ established area church, communications working
with B, C and D Coys, who fulfilled their roles according to plan, and
commenced to consolidate, A Coy out of contact, and not till late in day
till they were extricated from street-fighting. Odd snipers still active
around the village.
and 83 ORs MISSING 19 ORs
Page 3 of 18
PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
HERMANVILLE61800Reinforcements contacted and brought up for allocation to Coys, Enemy
jamming experienced on wireless. Considerable numbers of Allied Airborne
troops in gliders brought in low over sea by their tug-planes and released
SE, with supplies dropped by parachute.
119 Reinforcements (ORs) received from 103 RHU
-Local patrols carried out night D-day/D+1; quiet.
HERMANVILLE70900Naval bombardment of PLUMETOT (040793) and CRESSERONS. (040798)Casualties.
Ref: M.S. 40/16 N.W.11301 Pl B Coy and 1 Pl C Coy moved off to secure PLUMETOT and CRESSERONS.KILLED :- 2 ORs.
1300Both places taken, opposition not very stiff. Remainder B and C Coys
followed up, mounted on SP guns, for consolidation Two prisoners taken at
WOUNDED :- 2 ORs.
PLUMETOT, identified as 328 Inf GREN Regt.MISSING: 7 ORs.
1445B Coy established at LA DELIVERANDE (027812) 1 offr & 30 O.Rs captured, P.O.W.
1700Bde. HQ inform of expected counter attaok at BIEVILLE, and warn CO that Bn
must be prepared to move at moment's notice.
1720Brigadier countermands these instrs - orders B Coy to clear LUC A MER (042825),in
cooperation with RM Commando. This is achived successfully, and B Coy
move to a posn near LION-sur-MER, containing enemy strong-point TROUT, which still holds out.
App. 'A'
2330C Coy withdrawn to old posn once more, (HERMANVILLE)
Page 4 of 18
PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
HERMANVILLE80020Night bombing; few casualties in D Coy HQ. B Coy moved to posn near
LION-sur-MER [065814] but are out of wireless communication.
Casualties. KILLED:- 1 OR
0750Large numbers of enemy tanks reported at 0374WOUNDED:- 4 ORs.
0830Plans organised and co-ordinated for attack by SP guns. Navy to bombard
strong-point TROUT prior to attack.
MISSING: Nil.
0930Unconfirmed report that enemy inf and vehs in CRESSERONS. C Coy send
patrols to investigate. CAEN still in enemy hands. 185 Inf Bde held up.
1 Coy E Yorks to Beville.
1100Bn orders be ready to move at moment's notice.
1115Large dump on beach hit by bomb starting conflagration,
1200Ordered to move to RUGGER. (Benouville)
B Coy move to and successfully liquidate TROUT. 80 prisoners.x App 'A'
1230Bn on the march.
BENOUVILLE 40/16 N.W. 0947461330CO's 'O' Gp. Coys disposed two on each side of bridges. Bridges bombed
and shelled intermittently throughout the day. Liaison.effected with
Airborne Div.
BENOUVILLE91000Bn once more ready to move, when relieved, to CAZELLE. (027766)
1400Bn relieved by 51 H.D., embussed for CAZELLE.
Page 5 of 18
PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
Le MESNIL WOOD91800All in posn at new location having reliceved the 1st KOSB with rest of
9 Bde move forward.
Casualties. WOUNDED:- 6 ORs,
M.S: 40/16NW 0287551900CAMBES attacked and captured by 9 Bde, Enemy still active in wood in
front of Bn posn. Some mortar fire from enemy.
2345Bn-patrols start-during the night,
100445Stand to,Casualties,
0900Enemy shelling wood spasmodically during morningWOUNDED:- 9 ORs.
1400Patrols sent out, 1 Offr and 2 men, on recce to ascertain enemy strength
at LE LANDEL. Their objective successfully achieved, infm obtained that
LE LANDEL NOT held in daytime - only 4 Germans; the remaining coming forward
at nightfall. Thirty French civilians evacuated.
1600D Coy move off as advance guard to occupy LE LANDEL
2100On successful completion, A, B and C Coys moved up to take up posns. No
enemy activity beyond long range MMG fire.
LE-LANDEL M.S: 40/16 N.W. 037744110300All coys in consolidated posns at LE LANDEL with temporary Bn HQ.Casualties.
0900CO's 'O' Gp based on Bde suggested policy of infiltration. B Coy to move
forward to LA LONDE and if clear to penetrate to CHATEAU de la LONDE. A
Coy to move through them.
KILLED:- 1 OR. WOUNDED:- 9 ORs.
Page 6 of 18
PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
Le LANDEL111030B Coy started to move but mortar fire on posns at LA LONDE and reports of
SP guns with 3 tanks near wood at LA BIJUDE: Orders from Brigadier to
remain awaiting for the order.
1200Heavy shelling on DF tasks by our arty.
1515Patrol of 1 offr and 2 men executed successfully by daylight recce to
locate 2 MMGs which harass B Coy posns, also ascertain house near LA
LONDE clear of enemy.
1600Shelling by air-burst shells; some casualties. LA BIJUDE crumped by 3
Regts of Arty.
Le LANDEL12No enemy activity detected by patrols or listening watches during night.Casualties.
0500Approx 20 air-burst shells in A Coy area. Several light casualties.KILLED:- 4 ORS,
1000Four shells from med arty operating behind our posns full short and into
D Coy area. Two casualties.
WOUNDED: 10 ORs.
1030Shelling of D Coy area by air-burst shells. From fragments found later
it would appear that the enemy are using 15cm gun or guns.
143076 Fd Regt Arty carry out bombardment of LA BIJUDE during afternoon,
2 minutes, Rate 3, every 65 minutes.
1515Tank shoot on LA BIJUDE.
Page 7 of 18
PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
Le LANDEL121530Recce patrol of 1 Offer and 2 men returned from 4 hours of patrolling.
Observed small tracked veh with trailer which moved up and down then ran into
a cornfield before exploding in a sheet of flame, Theory advanced that this
was a 'BEETLE' remote-controlled tank, but more likely a light French model
hit by our shell fire, Sniper's posn to our left front was located.
1820Posn mortared, about 18 HE fell; slight damage.
1844Counter-fire put in by SP guns and 3" Mortars.
1930Reported that MG post to our front knocled out by arty.
1950Intensive crump by our arty; pall of smoke at CHATEAU de la LONDE.
2200Sharp shelling of our posns by aneny, apprex 60 shells in 15 minutes. O casualties.
2330Several enemy bombers over the area, bombing targets to the coastal area.
Patrols active during the night. Infm of enemy armour moving near LA BIJUDE.
Enemy listening post tackled by patrol. Enemy still in occupation of
CHATEAU de la LONDE. Patrols out during the night heard sounds of enemy
armour moving near LA BIJUDE. Slight brush with outpost.
Casualties
Le LANDEL131000Enemy shelling spasmodically.KILLED:- 1 OR
1240Enemy mortaring HE bombs on posns. Counter fire by our own mortars
reported to have knocked out enemy mortar.
WOUNDED:- 19 ORs. KILLED:- Capt. P Welding.
Page 8 of 18
PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
Le LANDEL131630Approx 20 more HE mortar bombs fell in area,Reinforcements.
1820Air-burst shells over area.14 ORs from 104 CRC
1840One Tp of Staffs Yeomanry set off to recce forward area near CHATEAU de Ia
LONDE. Armoured car which was leading 4 tanks was hit by A tk fire and set
ablaze; Tanks retired;
1930Spitfire brought down by enemy AA fire,
1945Ammunition dump in LA BIJUDE set ablaze and exploding. Bn mortar opened
up to add to the confusion.
2000More shell fire in area (approx 12).
2130Patrol (1 offr and 2 ORs) returned from recce near LA LONDE. Enemy
listening post encountered,
2312One bomb dropped two hundred yards from Bn HQ. from enemy aircraft
Le LANDEL140030Patrol out 0230 hrs (1 Offr, 4 ORs). Brush with two enemy MGa.
Pinpointed location of mortar.
Casualties,
1210Shelling of area (approx 15 shells).KIILED:- 1 OR
1300Patrol of 1 Offr and 2 ORs set out on recce of area 033735, observedWOUNDED:- 5 ORs.
apparent A tk gun (similar to British and possibly a dummy) also an MG.
Mortars opened fire from wood. Assault gun opened fire but not from this
vicinity as previously surmised.
Page 9 of 18
PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
Le LANDEL141315Typhoons strafing with cannon fire road in LE BISEY.
1445Shelling of Bn area.Reinforcements
1900Advance party arrive from E Yorks, consisting of CO, rep offrs and one8 ORs from 104
NCO per Pl.
2230Heavy bombing approx 1000 yds in front of area, large flash CHATEAU de la
LONDE.
2320Two red Verey lights seen to come from area CHATEAU de la LONDE.
2330Patrol of 1 Offr and 14 ORs set out but was delayed by sharp enemy shelling
of our posn. Pushed fwd but unable to reach objective previously outlined.
Found three fires burning: (1) CHATEAU de la LONDE, (2) EPRON, (3) LA
BIJUDE. Occasional bombing during the night of beach-head area.
LE LANDEL150900CO's 'O' Gp reference relief of unit by 2 E Yorks to be completed by 0100
hrs June 16.
Casualities.
Quiet day with very little shelling by either side.
Arrangement for hand-over to E Yorks completed,
KILLED:- Nil. WOUNDED:- Nil.
1800AII personnel standing by ready to move,
1900B Coy E Yorks arrive and enable B Coy to move out at 1940 hrs.
Page 10 of 18
PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
Le LANDEL152010D Coy relieved and move off, then a pause until nightfall, Move of
Carriers, Mortars and A tk Pl executed in daylight. Some delay in relief
of fwd coys C and A, but move complete by 0330 hrs.
No shelling of posns during the operation, but a stick of bombs dropped by
enemy aircraft across wood near LE MESNIL, held by SUFFOLKS.
Energy appear to have moved up HAA mobile batteries in their fwd areas near
CHATEAU de La LONDE, and harass our daylight fighter cover.
CAZELLE16Considerable enemy air activity during the night by the enemy over beachCasualties.
landing area, met by prodigious flak barrage from both ship and shore AA
defences.
WOUNDED: - 2 ORs.
First morning in CAZELLE with the Bn in reserve role, giving all personnel
a much-needed opportunity of attending to personal requirements, adjustment
of kit losses, washing and more rest. No activity on the front of our
sector. No shelling in the immediate area.
Reinforcements. 31 ORs from E Lan R 42 ORs from RWF.
Air activity at night when routine anti-parachute and contact patrols
were maintained,
CAZELLE17Routine day; a few shells on the village during the morning, one landing
near Bde HQ.
Casualties. NIL
In the late afternoon about 30 shells fell over a wide area; no damage or
casualties within the Bn, but some near misses on 'A' Echelon vehs.
More reinforcements of offrs and men arriving to bring the Bn almost to
full strength.
2000Radar station near DOUVRES reduced after holding out for 11 days. Arty
preparation in which Navy assisted lasted from 1630-1700 hrs when six
tanks supported by AVRE and flails went in. Prisoners total 5 offrs and
208 ORs.
Page 11 of 18
PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
17(cont)Large formations of Allied bombers were observed over area, travelling
SW, and one was shot down in flames.
Nothing to report from routine patrols.
CAZELLE18Quiet day with no shelling by enemy and no activity reported from front.
Allied fighters patrolling the area all day. Short heavy barrage put down
by our arty on left flank.
Casualties:- Nil.
2130Large formation Allied supply planes observed returning from dropping
supplies to airborne troops; heavily escorted by fighters, and entirely
unmolested by Luftwaffe.
Reinforcements 13 ORS from 104 CRC
Routine patrols as normal.
CAZELLE19Heavy rain throughout the day making conditions of living in slit trenchesCasualties;- Nil
far from pleasant. Aircraft of both sides apparently grounded by weather
- none over area.
No shelling until late afternoon when own arty opened up, supported by
naval bombardment.
Routine patrols without incident.
CAZELLE20Great improvement in the weather - stiff breeze.
Again quiet on all Divisional fronts, main fighting still on Canadian
sector at TILLY and Villers-Bocage, whilst Americans continue to make
good progress on the Cherbourg peninsula which they have now cut by
combat patrols.
Casualties:- Nil
CAZELLE21Fairly heavy shelling of CAZELLE during the morning, one killed. Instrs
received to relieve E Yorks at LE LANDEL, move to be completed by 1800 hrs.
Casualties, KILLED:- 1 ORs WOUNDED:- 2 ORS.
Page 12 of 18
PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
CAZELLE210900Advance parties leave,
1800264 mortar bombs fired into LA BIJUDE.
Coys move.
1830Move completed.
2300Patrol out to destroy enemy OP, but not successful, under mortar and MG fire,
compelled disperse.
LE LANDEL222345Strong patrol, one offr and pl established outpost posn at LA LONDE Attempts
to move forward were met by heavy MG fire (5 guns). Two casualties.
Casualties. WOUNDED:- 23 ORs.
1100Wounded successfully evacuated from LA LONDE.
1200CO's 'O' Gp including reps of sp arms - Mx, Suffolk, 246 RE, 76 Fd Regt,
67 A tk. Attack on CHATEAU de la LONDE outlined,
1400Telephonic communication effected with outpost, Recce patrol detected no
signs of enemy movement. All quiet.
1800Pinal 'O' Gp.
2130Sharp bout of shelling (about 45 HE). 1 killed, 7 wounded.
2300Further bout of shelling, harassing coys as they deployed for attack.
16 casualties.
2330C & B Coys moved off, frontal attack on LA LONDE, following through CHATEAU
Page 13 of 18
PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
22de la LONDE to line beyond.
C Coy pinned down by MG fire in enfilade; causing some disorganisation
in darkness,
Le LANDEL230300B Coy progressed well, pushing forward, with light casualties, to their
objective, established two platoons. Third one lost touch, but moved
up later.
Casualties. KILLED.
0445Most of C Coy retired, A Coy moved forward to support B Coy, consolidating
in their rear, One coy SUFFOLK moved up to reinforce LE LANDEL. Quiet
period. B Coy took 3 prisoners including FOO who relinquished marked maps
of arty plan intact; and supplied userul infm,
2 ORs. WOUNDED Capt. CHM Greener. and 33 ORs.
0500Weak counter attack by enemy repulsed.
0600Heavy mortaring of A and B Coys. Smoke screen put down on flanks by enemy,
and sharp counter-attack put in. SP guns were not far enough forward,
MISSING
Enemy tanks (approx 6) supported by inf broke into B Coy posns, causing
heavy casualties. Remainder of Coy withdrew through A Coy to LE LANDEL.
Lieut, F Jackson,
0630Heavy shelling of LE LANDEL (approx 80 HE). Some casualties.Lieut. D. Gatenby.
0700A Coy holding corner of LA LONDE. SP guns ordered to move forward inand 71 ORs.
support. Counter fire brought down,
0830C and D Coys and remainder of B Coy consolidating old areas LE LANDEL.
0930Tp of tks (E Riding Yeomanry) and tp SP guns establish in sp A Coy.
1745Heavy shelling of LE LANDEL (40 rds) with 15cm guns.
Page 14 of 18
PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
Le LANDEL241826Enemy mortaring area CHATEAU de la LONDE 8.1cm.
Shelling continued steadily until midnight.
Le LANDEL250045Fighting patrol moved out, with task of assaulting enemy MG post. Fire
gp moved into posn, but whilst assault gp pushing fwd, three enemy tanks
Castalties.
were heard moving near MG post. Fire gps opened up with LMGs and 2"
mortar. Tanks replied and Lieut KH Norman, patrol leader, was wounded,
KILLIED: 3 ORs.
but led patrol back to base, Enemy activity stirred up by this action,
and MG fire from whole of sector, with mortaring of main posns.
WOUNDED: 4ORs.
2345Pl in outpost posn of LA LONDE withdrawn, leaving only listening post.
Latter reported continuous sound or enemy vehs and possibly tanks.
MISSING:- 2 ORs.
LE LANDEL260130Reported from Bde that a possible German counter-attack might materialise.
Bn at stand-to posns.
Casualties.
0410Sharp DF put down on LA LONDE by 76 Fd Arty, incl phosphorus smoke, whichKILLED:- 1 OR
started fires. 2 Mx carried out MMG shoot on CHATEAU de la LONDE.WOUNDED:- 7 ORs.
0600All quiet, shelling lessened,Reinforcements.
0700Very heavy barrage by own tps on right flank, preparatory to big attack by
60 Div and 8 Armd Corps.
22 ORs from W Yorks.
1000Bde Comd's conference at Bde HQ for operation MITTEN, 8 Br I.B. attack19 ORs from S. Staffs.
with the intention of capturing CHATEAU de la LONDE, LA BIJUDE, EPRON
(see trace).
Appendices B&C.
Page 15 of 18
PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
Le LANDEL261800CO's 'O' GP, with reps of sp arms, 67 A tk, 76 Fd, 77 Assaut RE, RAC
(including use of crocodiles - Churchill tanks; towing flame throwers
on trailers) 246 Fd Coy RE.
Recce patrols active at night reporting much movement by track vehs,
and noise of construction work in progress.
LE LANDEL27Slight shelling during the morning.
1200CO's final 'O' GP, extensive fire support programme laid on, utilizing
5 Fd Regts, 2 Mx MMGs, 3" mortars of 3 bns and those of 9 and 185 Bdes.
1515C and D Coys start to form up, but heavy mortaring begun by enemy.
1530Concentrated arty fire on LA LONDE, but mortaring on own posns still fierce,
CO's advance OP mortared, communications by wireless and telephone cut.
One bomb wrecked trench, CO's slit trench. Ltcol STONE slightly wounded in left
leg, but carried on from main CP.
C and D Coys move across open cornfield towards LA LONDE, under mortar
and MG fire, D Coy reached wood LA LONDE, well controlled by Capt. DJD
Sussex:
C Coy pinned down on left flank, Major EF Johnson wounded.
Heavy casualties in both companies.
1610D Coy moved up to fwd edge of LA LONDE, came under fire from well placed
enemy MGs, deeply entrenched, Unable to move fwd due to enfilade fire
from left flank.
162567 A tk moved fwd with 16 A tk guns SP. to occupy LA LONDE, leaving two
coys in def LE LANDEL. One Coy E Yorks in posn for proposed attack in
posn at rear of Bn.
Page 16 of 18
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LE LANDEL.2718073 Prisoners (1 Offr & 2 ORs) taken, identified as 192 PZ Gren Regt.
1825Three more prisoners. Heavy mortaring, shelling of LE LANDEL.
1902Enemy tanks move up on right from LA BIJUDE, A Tk guns deploy.
"D" Coy made progress on right, to line "THRUST" halfway to objective CRANE,
but sustained heavy Casualties from mortar and MG fire and LE LANDEL heavily
shelled at intervals.
1915Two Rocket Firing Typhoons engaged tanks at LA BIJUDE.
2200Four Companies, heavily depleted, withdrawn to LE LANDEL to re form. Lt. Col.
STONE evacuated to A.D.S.
Major SHEPHERD assumed command Battalion
2300Orders received to move two coys to LA LONDE, two Coys to remain at LE LANDEL,
where one Coy E Yorks in support.
Page 17 of 18
PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
Le LANDEL280245Recce patrol of one offr and two ORS moved into LA LONDE.
0300Major WALLER (posted as 2IC Bn) arrived and assumed comd of the Bn
0315O' GP, reorganisation arranged. Shelling still continuing,
0415Concentrated fire on LA LONDE as 2 E Yorks and 1 Suffolk commence new
attack. Enemy mortars and MG again exact toll of assulting coys, but
objective reached by 0825 hrs. Probably 30 enemy tanks operating -
Staffs Yeo in action against them, Enemy tks attacked own tps with
MG and 75mm guns. 2 E Yorks counter-attacked by tanks, but two Bns firmly
established by 1200 hrs. LE LANDEL harassed by shelling and mortar fire
all morning.
1630Major WALLER, Acting CO, continues with regrouping of Bn. Heavy losses in
eqpt sustained; Contact patrols operating at night; nothing to report.
LCLANDEL29Quiet day, very little shelling: Reinforcements (100-men) arrived and distributed to coys.Reinforcements. 26 ORS from 32 RMU
Afternoon devoted to preparing new posns; salvaging eqpt; burial of dead,
Suffolks take over def CHATEAU de la LONDE. i S Lan R to defend LE LANDEL.
2 E Yorks pulled back to posn near CAZELLE
73 ORs from W. Yorks,
1845New CO, Ltcol BOLSTER, arriving, also Major WATSON, posted to D Coy.
Major shepherd assumed comd C Coy. Contact patrols by night, listening post
report sound of tank movement LA BIJUDE.
Le LANDEL30Movement of one of two enemy tanks observed on front.
Page 18 of 18
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Le Landel30Sporadic shelling throughout day by enemy. Coys dig in fresh positions,
re-organisation continued. Minefield laying by REs immediately in rear
of Bn position.
Routine patrols during night.