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    War Diary: 1st Battalion Royal Norfolk Regiment

    Month and year: June 1944

    The 1st Battalion Royal Norfolk Regiment June 1944 War Diary covers the units activities their embarkation and their fighting inland to Lebisey.

    National Archive Reference: WO 171/1350

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    Page 1 of 22
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    J931-ULO Party & Tide 2 personnel and vehicles proceed to their
    marshalling areas. Nothing else happened except that the Bn
    had more time than was previously anticipated to make all
    preparations for the move which is to be one of the last phases
    before this very important battle.
    Weather - warm, slightly cloudy.
    J9 & J3June 11245All remaining vehs and personnel (except those landing on D + 4)
    moved to their marshalling areas in Camps J3 & J2, the former
    consisting of marching personnel for the LCIs, the latter
    of vehicle parties - carriers, A.TK guns etc.
    Move conducted satisfactorily - J3 party arrived at about 1415,
    and found conditions very. good with perfect organisation already
    laid on for food & entertainment.
    Page 2 of 22
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    J32A normal day in Camp, making final preparations for move to the port
    of embarkation, 24 hrs notice of which is expected. A certain
    amount of G 1098 deficiencies are still arriving through Camp, and very good
    organisation appears to exist in all respects. Bicycles (folding
    assault type) were taken to port & pre-loaded together with
    signals - handcart.
    Weather - poor at first, very good for rest of day.
    J331830Troops come straight out of cinema show to be met
    with orders that they must be ready to move in about
    2 hrs time,
    1945Rations issued - tremendous weight, and very hard to fit
    into assault jerkin. However all succeeded in doing so
    2045Move to port - very well managed by Movement Control
    Page 3 of 22
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    J33Tea on quayside, commence embarkation about 2215,
    finish about 2300 hrs. Spirit's very high, and the
    tps are highly impressed with the way in which
    arrangements are made for them to send mail up to the
    last minute. Cigarettes & playing cards arrived on the
    craft, all supplied free, also bundles of Penguin books have been
    left on the craft for us to distribute. On the whole
    everything has gone very well.
    Weather - changeable from cloudy to sunny all day.
    Wind rising.
    LCI/3174Craft remain in harbour and as operation has been
    postponed 24 hrs, everyone settles down to a normal
    day afloat. In order to keep the troops fresh, the
    Bn returns in tpt to J3 for mid-day meal & then comes
    Page 4 of 22
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    back to craft.
    At about 2300 hrs a Naval signal comes to the effect
    that the force in this port will slip anchor to-morrow
    Weather - changeable, Bright periods. Rain at night,
    LCI/31751000Our LCIs together with the rest of the force sailed out of
    harbour, anchored for a few hours and then set sail with
    the rest fo the naval force for France. Tps very seasick.
    In the Fd60725"H" hr and D day for the SECOND FRONT. This Bn being
    part of the follow up Bde, landed at H + 150, but was
    landed 5 mins early at 0950. Beach under fairly heavy
    mortar & shellfire - bn moved to conc area and on to
    take over from SUFFOLKS at approx 1200 hrs. Unfortunately
    HILLMAN part of the initial bridgehead, held out for
    almost the whole day & this bn had to go round
    Page 5 of 22
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    the left flank, losing several casual: ties in 2 Coys from
    our own tks which thought they were enemy getting
    out of HILLMAN and fired on them. These two Coys A & B
    were finally extracted and the bn consolidated for the
    night on ROVER some way short of CAEN which was
    budgeted as D day objective for 185 Inf Bde. Gp.
    Lt.Toft killed, Capt.Kelly Lt.Ward, Capt.Leng RAMC Wounded
    In the Fd7During the day a general advance was maintained by
    the Bde gp and the Warwicks became heavily
    involved in a posn VERMOUTH overlooking a large
    area to the NORTH and a step to the last posn overlooking
    CAEN. This Bn, intended to attack in front bf VERMOUTH
    and found it to be a well prepared def posn, contrary
    to expectations, Under very heavy fire of all kinds, the CO
    remained in posn until dark and then drew out
    Page 6 of 22
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    under cover of arty and naval arty support. The Bn took up old posn
    on ROVER and after checking, the casualties were found to be
    about 40-50 incl Lt.Sharp & Campbell of "C" Coy missing.
    In the fd8Fairly quiet but successful day for the Bn. Intermittent mortaring
    registered on right of posn, causing 3 casualties. A task
    force went out, comd Maj, Wilson, consisting of B Coy, 3 secs
    of carriers, det pnrs, 2 SP A.TK guns to look after the Bde
    left fwd flank. Their night activity successfully disposed
    of a local marine commandant in charge of Nazi affairs,
    and many snipers. Wider picture of night's activities showed
    no great change. Night fairly quiet. Patrol activities
    by both sides.
    In the fd9Throughout the day the Bn carried out offensive patrols
    to mop up snipers and any attempt at infiltration which
    Page 7 of 22
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    the Boche might make. Posns remained the same as
    did the whole of our front, save for an advance on our right by
    9th Inf Bde.. 51 Highland Div. behind us are forming
    up and and their 153 Bde took over 8 Bde posns to enable
    them to move round to our right with 9th Bde.
    In the afternoon the enemy found our range and gave
    us a few shells which caused little or no damage.
    During the night A Coy rounded up 6 more Germans in
    B Coy area by patrolling forward, The operation
    appears to be proceeding very well, and any interferences
    by snipers on odd 'infiltrators' met
    with a very hearty reception by the tps.
    in the fd10A quiet day. Prisoners continue to be rounded up,
    most of them snipers or stragglers, and evacuated
    HQs etc are yielding informatory documents which
    Page 8 of 22
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    point to a very hasty withdrawal by the Boche.
    Civilians in the area accuse each other freely of pro Nazi
    sympathies, causing a great deal of unnecessary
    trouble, but the position seems to be clarifying
    itself, and PW seem heartily sick & sorry for themselves.
    First mail arrived today much to everyone's joy.
    During the night patrolling of a very offensive nature on
    our left forward flank caused considerable confusion among
    odd parties of enemy and gave us a fairly good idea
    of the enemy line on our front, He still seems to be in
    some doubt as to our exact location on this part of
    the front.
    F - AFW 3008 G - AFW 3009E
    in the Fd110800B Coy, the left forward Coy, once again had a party
    when 4 trucks appeared on the scene and were promptly
    written off' together with their equipment. The bag was
    Page 9 of 22
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    5 killed & 4 PW, none of whom knew quite where
    they should be going. The rest of the day was fairly
    quiet with one short period of shelling during the late
    afternoon. Standing patrols disclosed useful infm about
    VERMOUTH, the posn which caused all the trouble.
    The bn has been living for the past 4 or 5 days in
    a def posn in the open as opposed to requisitioned
    houses. The first slit trenches were crude but
    effective and now the tps have made shelters
    for themselves which when camouflaged as they
    are now, give maximum comfort & protection.
    Feeding on compo is now going quite well and washing
    themselves now present less difficulty though all tps
    are looking forward to a baths. Weather cloudy some showers.
    Page 10 of 22
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    In the fd12after a night in which patrolling yielded inform
    that certain posns on our left front are not occupied
    at any rate by night the Bn settled down once more
    to a day of state defence and offensive patrolling
    1230a fighting patrol of D Coy went out to inspect a
    bridge on the R ORNE, and during the advance
    were fired on by one or two MMG's Lt Williams (J.F.J),was
    killed by a sniper and Maj Brinkley was wounded
    in the arm.
    Normal patrol programme during night. Corps arty
    naval and air bombardment commenced "softening"
    for to-morrows push on our left flank by 51 Highland Div
    Weather excellent. Still living under same conditions.
    Page 11 of 22
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    IN THE FIELD13-51 Div attack started in the early hours of the morning
    and made some ground. a number of tks and inf were
    reported to be in area LA BIJUDE on 9th & 8th Bde front
    fairly quiet on our front. Preparing to go into self sup-
    porting "fortress" Occasional shelling. Later in day 51 Div
    pushed back a little. Weather fair Conditions same.
    During night, a patrol of 18, led by Lt Squire, was
    given a bloody nose - 4 returned, 7 wounded, 7
    unaccounted for. It appears that the Bosche is in
    fairly strong numbers in that area SE of "Vermouth"
    IN THE FIELD14-Nothing of operational importance happened to-day. D
    Coy relieved "C" Coy in the fwd posn and patrols of "B"
    Coy during the night gained more infrm of VERMOUTH
    Weather fair, cloudy at times. Bn living under same
    conditions as a self contained unit in the field
    Page 12 of 22
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    IN THE FIELD15-an uneventful day on the whole - intermittent shelling
    of the area but no damage Weather quite good
    which means the RAF were active most of the day
    Compo ration continue to provide excellent meals.
    During the might a small enemy counter attack on
    51 HD our left produced little effect. Patrolling
    during the night produced little or no results. Lt
    VEZINA succeeded in leading one and arrived back
    2 3/4 late. D Coy relieved C in fwd posn.
    First news summary of 2nd front produced by us
    IN THE FIELD16-Once again what one might call a
    static sort of day. Intermittent shell fire on all
    areas, mostly left fwd one, which gave them
    one casualty from an airburst. Offensive
    patrolling as usual all attempts to knock out the
    Page 13 of 22
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    COLOMBELLES bridge have to far failed. During the
    afternoon Capt Macgillivray and 2 men went on a
    patrol beyond LEBISEY posn and brought back
    excellent infrm. Patrols during the night produced
    very little LT Woodhouse captured 2 Bosche &
    shot them when they tried to get away - failed to
    obtain identifications, of which Higher ???Comd??? are
    screaming at the moment. Weather windy & cold
    at first, fine & sunny pm & evening
    Conditions as before. Well dug in & very comfortable now
    IN THE FIELD17-another quiet day D Coy snipers bagged 2 Boche
    Navy shelled bridge, but results not yet known.
    Weather windy, better later Conditions as before
    Night patrol produced disappointing results, if
    any at all
    Page 14 of 22
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    IN THE FIELD18-a normal day again in so far as there was no change
    in the general situation on our front. Patrolling
    continued during the day and night. A Coy relieved D
    Coy in the fwd position. An officer of Public Relations
    visited us and took one or two stories away with him
    from men who have had a few "tiffs" with the Bosche
    sniper scare during evening which amounted to nothing
    Fine day wind easing Conditions improving with tps
    construction of waterproof shelters. Intermittent shelling
    I - W3008 J - AFW 3009E
    IN THE FIELD19-Weather foul High wind with a certain amount of rain
    Very cold for June. Nothing of operational importance the
    weather kept everyone fairly quiet During the afternoon
    Major Fitch MC. while leading a fighting patrol to clear a
    suspected house was killed. Patrols during the night
    drew blank as far as good intelligence was concerned
    Page 15 of 22
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    IN THE FIELD20-An uneventful day during which normal "static"
    duties were carried out. Command Post improved and
    a new roof put on
    K - 1 Norfolk Standing Operation Inst No.1
    1900Burial of Major Fitch and Pte Parker both killed on patrol
    yesterday attended by CO and as many of his friends as were able
    Weather fine, but with a high wind which dried
    the place up & removed all mud round the area, thus
    improving conditions somewhat.
    Patrols during the might produced little concrete
    infm except to confirm the presence of an enemy
    listening post at the East end of the A/tk ditch
    IN THE FIELD21-Another normal day. During the afternoon an enemy
    mortar dropped a number of rds in B Coy area &
    caused 2 casualtees. "B" relieved "A" by night in fwd
    area. Patrols drew blank, with exception of odd
    L Record of events
    Page 16 of 22
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    movement spotted over COLOMBELLES bridge by day.
    The whole front remained more or less unchanged.
    Weather very windy and quite cold for the time of
    year (makes it difficult to land stores & causes
    general hold-up Conditions as before - small HQ
    Mess is being - started 3 days ago on compo boxes
    and salvaged seats from an unspecified source,
    now dug well below ground level with tarpaulin
    IN THE FD22-Main incidents of the day were bouts of shelling on
    our right hand Coy these were short & sharp, but
    only inflicted a few minor casualties the night patrols
    were not successful in their object of taking PW for
    identification or destroying listening posts On am
    left the 5 Camerons commenced pushing forward
    M - 1 Norfolk Standing Op. Instr No 2.
    Page 17 of 22
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    in the straightening out of the bridgehead on 51
    H.D. sector success signal seen early hours of
    23rd, but no details yet known.
    Weather - still windy Conditions - normal
    IN THE FIELD23-Nothing of importance happened during the day. The
    enemy left us fairly well alone as regards shelling.
    Patrols during the night drew blank except for one, a
    volunteer recce patrol by CAPT M.A. FEARON and C/Sgt
    THORNE to LEBISEY WOOD they got right inside and
    gained valuable information, and were about to start
    for home when an enemy MMG opened up on ground
    level fixed lines from their left Fearon was hit
    in the thigh so that the couldn't move, Thorne in the
    right foot, also stick grenades were thrown at
    them, wounding C/Sgt thorne in the arm
    Page 18 of 22
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    Realising he could not get away himself, Capt
    Fearon sent Thorne a short distance away, and
    then had no option but to be taken prisoner after
    attempting to get the fire stopped, which was
    successful. C/Sgt Thorne was not spotted, and
    managed to drag himself back to the fwd Coy lines,
    where he gave his full story to the C.O.
    Weather - fair, still windy. Conditions the same. Vehicles
    now dug in
    App N - "Recce Patrol"
    IN THE FIELD24-Once more a normal day, with the usual routine
    activities. During the afternoon a regular 1/2 day
    shells landed behind us about every 1/2 hr, but did
    no damage. Night patrols poor last night No results
    at all. Weather excellent. Conditions good large
    batch of mail came in
    "O" Stg Op Instr No 3 "P" Stg Op Instr No 3 Q - AFW 3008 R - AFW 3009
    Page 19 of 22
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    IN THE FIELD25-During the morning for about an hour, and at
    irregular intervals, our main posn was shelled
    by what we took to be 150 mm guns. Some fell
    near and some fell some way away, but it kept
    our heads down. No casualties reported
    Patrols during the night met with no success and
    had little of value to report.
    Weather - fine at first, rain later. Conditions the
    same. Mail continues to arrive - two batches in to-day.
    IN THE FIELD26-Uneventful day. Bosche seems to have got the range of
    our posn - dropped several in and around us during
    the day. Reinforcement offer arrived - Maj J.E Picaver,
    LT GH Probyn Le R.W. Hodd. Weather bad rained on
    & off all day, rained almost continuously during the
    night Conditions correspondingly bad - very wet & muddy.
    Page 20 of 22
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    IN THE FIELD27th-an uneventful day - less reports come in now that
    "A" Sqn 3 Recee have taken over our left fwd posn.
    On our right 8th Bde have started to extend
    its front, and the advance appears to be going
    well at present.
    At about midnight or later we were subjected to
    3/4 hrs faily heavy shelling. No casualties.
    Weather - good early on, then rain. Poor later on in
    evening. Conditions - very muddy at first. Soon
    dried out however. No damage to living quarters
    by the weather. Minor adjustments necessary only
    a number of men went to a rest camp for a short spell.
    IN THE FIELD28th-A normal day again, though preparation are in full swing to
    prepare for the advance which must come on our sector of 3
    Div to conform to the advance on our right. Our own
    Page 21 of 22
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    sector was left fairly well alone by the Bosche artillery during
    the day, as he was well employed by 8 Bde who finally
    took CHATEAU DE LA LANDE. During the night our
    patrols were active as usual, and Lt Hemsely with a fighting
    patrol, found some very useful information about MMG's (42?)
    in new posns being dug SOUTH of the A/TK ditch in
    Weather fair more bright spells, but showery conditions
    continue good. We seem to to well "dug in" in this
    S = 1 Norfolk outline plan (Transcription note: place name not clear in original doc)
    IN THE FIELD29No events on our front of operational significance or
    interest the weather was showery with a very sharp
    shower in the evening. This restricted air operations.
    Conditions poor in view of the weather but ???andour???
    Page 22 of 22
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    IN THE FIELD30-Once again a bad day for weather, though less
    showery ground damp but not our spirits. The day
    did not produce any change of situation, and work went
    on as normal. We have gained valuable experience in
    organising ourselves in the field during these three weeks,
    and it should stand us in very good stead when we
    come on to the next phases of this operation.
    During last night patrols produced little intelligence
    except Sgt Caffin of B Coy and a Cpl of the Engineers, who
    went right up to the NORTH face of LEBISEY wood looking
    for mines. They succeeded in locating A person mines
    and further valuable information, and brought back an
    S mine as a trophy. Only by excessing great self restraint
    did they refrain from going right into the wood.
    So ends a momentous but not very active month for the Bn.
    What of the future.