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.
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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.
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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.
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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.
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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
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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
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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.
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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
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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???
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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.