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War Diary: 2nd Battalion Household Cavalry Regiment

Month and year: July 1944

The July 1944 2nd Battalion Household Cavalry Regiment covers their deployment and actions in Normandy including the capture of Bull Bridge over the river Souleuvre.

National Archive Reference: WO 171/837

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Page 1 of 4
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
Paddockhurst 2 2 H.C.R. received orders to conc on 6 hrs notice to move. Waterproofing was
completed in a hurry mainly owing to atrocious weather conditions. C.O. returned
after a period of sickness.
Roslands Castle 11 Jul. 2 H.C.R. moved to Marshalling Area Camp A1. A certain amount of mechanical
trouble from waterproofed 3 ton lorries was experienced but owing to a quick system
Appx A.
of replacement the non runners were replaced. In the marshalling area 2 H.C.R.
was split into 4 ship loads and was entirely looked after by the 'hotel' service
provided in the area.
Roslands Castle 12 Jul 0400 2 ship loads (comds C.O. and 2 I.C.) moved down to Hards but after several
moves and 4 hrs wait they were returned to another Marshalling Camp No. A 16. at
ROCHE COURT. 1600 ship loads 3 (Major Wignall) moved to hards at Portsmouth and
embarked. 2200 C.O. and 2 I.C's ship loads moved fwd to hards at Gosport.
Ship load 4 (Major Ward) also moved to hards during the night. The Sqns organisation
was entirely broken from the time the Marshalling area was entered until reforming
in the unit assembly area abroad. This caused a certain amount of confusion at
first but was soon sorted out.
13 Jul. 0400 C.O's and 2 I.C's parties began to embark at first light on LST's.
These boats carry about 80 mixed vehs on 2 decks. All craft had a very smooth
crossing. One craft unloaded in the evening the others anchored for the night
and the vehs disembarked at about 0900 hrs on 14 Jul.
14 Jul. All ships loads disembarked entirely dryshod and proceeded through the Beach and
Transit Areas to a Unit Assembly Area at BRECY. The voyage was an unforgettable
sight for all - masses of shipping in the Channel and no interference from sea or air.
5 Jul. 2 H.C.R. conc complete (less 1 AEC Armd C) in a pleasant country of orchards
and apparently of plenty. Very little war damage apparent. 2 H.C.R. had to move
harbour during the day but remained in same area.
Page 2 of 4
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
16 Jul RHQ and D Sqn moved to area AMBLIE 9480 and harboured close to the village.
2 H.C.R. found 6 Traffic control posts of 1 offr and 3 O.R's under comd Capt. Balding
to assist in movement of 3 Armd Divs over the ORNE north of CAEN. One of these parties had
a direct hit from a basket of A.P. bombs which killed Lt.Potter and 2 O.R's and wounded 2 other
O.R's. C Sqn were given a job of preparing a rest Camp for 8 Corps at St. AUBIN SUR MERE.
17-22 Jul. RHQ and D remained at AMBLIE.
22 Jul. 2 H.C.R. conc complete near CAMILLY 9476. 2 H.C.R. was very congested but this was the
case throughout the area.
22-29 Jul 2 H.C.R. remained at CAMILLY and carried out maint and even some trg in map reading and
Scout car work. Scout Cs were modified by adding smoke dischargers wired to the side light
switches which with the use of tail smoke gave an instantaneous smoke screen if in a tight corner
29 Jul 2 H.C.R. less B moved to area BALLEROY on the WEST end of the British front to take
part in op BLUECOAT which was a complimentary op to the big push by U.S. forces through NORMANDY
into BRITTANY and round the West flank 8 Corps consisted of Gds Armd Div, 11 Armd Div, 15 (s)
Div for the initial phase of this op. B Sgn under comd 15 (s) Div. 2 H.C.R. (less B Sqn)
under comd 11 Armd Div Tac HQ SALLEN 6961 close to HQ 11 Armd Div.
30 Jul 8 Corps attack went in axis CAUMONT - ST. MARTIN DES BESKES, 15 (s) leading sp by by
6 Gds Tke Bde, 11 Armd Div following: the attack was preceded by heavy bombing with fragmentation
bombs. D rt, C left. Owing to mines and demolition, 11 Armd Div had some difficulty in getting
to this objectives but by 2000 hrs Div Comd appreciated that it would be possible to push the
Armd Cs through and Sqns were moved up the centre line CAUMONT - SEPT VENTS through the night.
Tac HQ remained at SULLEN.
31 Jul Sqns were badly held up during the night owing to rd congestion and the rd had several times
to be cleared to let priority tk colns come through. However, by 0900 hrs C Sgn were able to
deploy to West and S.W. of ST. MARTIN DES BESACES. Lt. Powle seized his opportunity to cross the
railway just before the Germans rushed up 3 88 mm. guns, and he was able to push south to the
bridge over the river, and report SOULEUVRE as clear. It was being used as a two way road
by 5 G.A.F. div. Lt. Powle reported the bridge as clear and kept it under observation the
whole day until the arrival in the evening of 2 tps of 2 N.Y. (Armd Recce Regt) . This exploit
had meant a 9 mile drive through enemy country down narrow roads with high banks on both sides.
Both C and D Sqns obtained much information during the day. Lt. Bethell in the FORET
DE L'EVEQUE area disappeared with his whole tp after reporting on the air that he was in
difficulty and had had several casualties. His car was later found burnt but but there was no
sign of him or the rest of his tp. RHQ moved to FIERVILLE 6856 and thence to LA FOUQUERIE 6653.
Page 3 of 4
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
16 Jul. 2 H.C.R. was warned that 2 Sqns would take part in Op Goodwood under Comd Gds Armd
Div. B and A were selected with an ad hock RHQ Gp comd by 2 I.C. C and D remained in
Corps Reserve. C sqn finding 6 offrs traffic posts and doing a fatigue job at St. AUBIN S
MER. A and B moved near BAYEAUX. RHQ and D moved to AMBLIE. C.O. tried to get permission
to comd the 2 Sqns himself but this was refused.
-
Appx A.
17 Jul. 0600 hrs A and C Sqns under Comd Major Sir P. Grant Lawson, and Tac HQ passed to Comd GAD for
Op GOODWOOD.
2130 hrs Moved in rear of 5 Gds Armd Bde by Northern wheeled route to forming up area south of
ANGUENY 0177 arriving about 0315 hrs.
18 Jul 0745 hrs H. Hr Tac HQ remained with Tac GAD throughout day. A and B Sgns moved down 5 Gds
Armd Bde Antse Line in rear of 2 W.G. Route Br BENOUVILLE 1075 - RANVILLE 1173 - ESCOUVILLE
1271 - thence due south. No opportunity was given for Sqns to carry out recce.
2200 hrs Both Sqns moved into harbour with Tac GAD 1,000 yds south of DEMOUVILLE 1067. A Ech
moved to LE MARIQUET 1173. L/Cpl. Barnes A Sqn was killed during an enemy bombing attack on
Main GAD on night 18/19 Jul.
19 Jul. 0500 hrs Stand to. Sqns remained in res all day. Field moderately mortared once during morning.
A Ech moved HEROUVILLE 1271.
20 Jul. 0910 hrs. B Sqn given task of patrolling area south of Rly incl Pt 53 (1657) - CONTEVILLE 1257 -
SECQUEVILLE LA CAMPAGNE 0959.
1015 hrs A Sqn given task of patrolling area south of COURS DE JANVILLE - west of rd St. PAIR 1666 -
ARGENCES 1761 - and north of rd ARGENCES - VIMONT- CAGNY.
1600 hrs Patrols withdrawn having failed to get fwd owing to enemy tks and A/Tk guns.
1900 hrs A Ech came under comd own Sqns in harbour. Heavy thunderstorm in evening followed by
intermittent heavy showers.
21 Jul. Sqns remained in res. Heavy rain all day.
1300 hrs Enemy shell fell in harbour and wounded Lt. Murray, killing one D.R. and wounding three
others.
Appx A is Diary of the doings of this party when detailed from 2 H.C.R.
Page 4 of 4
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
in the evening. The advance had gone very fast and 326 Germany Inf Div had been virtually
over-run. That night 159 Inf Bde Gp had pushed over Lt. Powle's bridge about LE BENY
BOCAGE. D Sqn moved during the night to try to capture further bridges to the West and to
get in touch with U.S. forces on the right of 8 Corps' advance. In this they were unsuccessful
mainly owing to rd congestion as the boundary with U.S. forces had not been thoroughly tied up,
and 11 Armd Div and 19 U.S. Div were both using the same road south.
Attached notes on talk by General Sir B.L. Montgomery K.C.B., D.S.O., to senior officers.Appx B.