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    War Diary: 2nd Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles

    Month and year: July 1944

    The 2nd Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles July 1944 War diary covers the units time in Normandy in the areas of Cambes, St Aubin, Breville, Caen, Amfreville and Troarn

    National Archive Reference: WO 171/1384

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    Page 1 of 7
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    CAMBES (France)1st.The Commanding Officer held a conference at 0900 hrs.
    A multi-barrelled mortar dropped their shells in the Bn Area during the day.
    The Bn Snipers were out today and claimed to have inflicted casualties on
    the enemy.
    CAMBES (France)2nd.Shelling was on a reduced scale today, although there was one particular
    severe period around 2000 hrs.
    The weather today was fair with cloudy periods.
    CAMBES (France)3rd.There was no change in the weather today.
    The Bn saw first signs today that it was to be relieved in the near future
    when recce parties from Battalions of 59 Div came to view the area, and,
    in particular, the Bn dispositions in CAMBES.
    CAMBES (France)4th.In the morning, recce parties from 2/6th South Staffordshire Regt arrived
    to take over all information about the Bn locality.
    Shelling during the day on several occasions, causing casualties - two
    Other Ranks Killed, three Other Ranks Wounded.
    The weather today was unchanged.
    CAMBES (France)5th.Today the weather is much brighter.
    During the day there was some shelling on Bn HQ and in the area of the
    Church of CAMBES.
    The Commanding Officer held a conference at 1700 hrs to confirm details of
    move from locations at CAMBES, Advance parties under the 2nd i/c left
    soon after to recce the new area at St AUBIN. At 2330 hrs this move
    took place.
    St AUBIN, (France)6th.The Bn arrived in the new location at 0300 hrs. The purpose of this move
    Page 2 of 7
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    St AUBIN (France)6th. (Contd)was to give the Bn a rest after exactly one month in direct contact with
    the enemy; once dug in, everybody put this opportunity to good use.
    Every man had a bath, provision for which was made by the Mobile Bath
    Unit, and a prolonged sleep which slight enemy shelling did not disturb.
    St AUBIN (France)7th.Rest continued today, though again there was some enemy shelling and mortar
    fire. In the morning the Bn heard that it was to move forward again,
    this time to relieve the Royal Warwicks at BREVILLE, Recce parties
    under the 2nd i/c preceeded the move itself, which was to take place
    during the night. Major C.R.P. SWEENY M.C., carried out recce of
    1st Royal Norfolk's position.
    BREVILLE. (France)8th.At 0130 hrs the Bn, less "D" Coy, moved to the Spur North East of BREVILLESee Appx I.
    to relieve 1st Royal Norfolks. It was reported in position by 0230 hrs
    and off again by 0510 hrs to take over from the Royal Warwicks, who were
    moving forward to attack the enemy at LEBISEY at that time. "D" Coy
    had moved at 0130 hrs with the Bn but had gone direct to BIEVILLE to
    provide a firm base for the Royal Warvicks' attack. In the morning the
    Commanding Officer had received orders from the Brigade Commander and at
    1500 hrs he made a reconnaissance with Commanders of the leading Companies
    and their opposite numbers from the Northants Yeomanry who were on
    this occasion providing tank support.
    When the start line on the South side of LEBISEY WOOD had been recced and
    the plan finally agreed upon, the attack was launched with "D" Coy on
    the left and "A" Coy on the right. There was little small arms fire
    because the KSLI, a battalion of 185 Brigade, were already on the objective,
    but the enemy mortar and artillery fire was intense and caused a
    number of casualties. Among these was "A" Company Commander, Major W.D. TIGHE WOOD
    Page 3 of 7
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    BREVILLE (France)8th. (Contd)whose Company H2 received a direct hit. Casualties in the Bn amounted
    during this period to 8 Other Ranks Killed and 46 Wounded.
    By night a strong patrol of "B" Company, under Major J.W. HYDE, and two troops
    of tanks from 1st Northamptenshire Yeomanry attempted to move down into
    CAEN. Progress was soon obstructed by the ruin and havoc wrought in the
    town and its approaches by RAF bombing. Some mines were encountered, and,
    once it was felt that an advance in daylight would save casualties, the
    march in was postponed until the following day.
    CAEN (France)9th.Before the march into CAEN was begun, two patrols were sent out. The first,
    consisting of a platoon of "A" Coy under Lieut R. WISE and a troop of tanks,
    moved down to CALIX on the Eastern outskirts. The second, a platoon of
    "A" Comany under Lieut B.R. BURGES with another troop of tanks, went to
    St JULIEN on the North West outskirts. Both patrols felt their way forward
    into CAEN and both suffered casualties from such snipers and infantry that
    still remained in the town. Both Platoon Commanders were wounded and within
    their commands were three Killed and four Wounded. Both patrols rejoined
    the Bn within the next 24 hours. At 1030 hrs the 2nd Bn bagan the move forward
    which was to make them the first British troops to enter CAEN. "B" Company
    led the way, clearing houses systematically and climbing over and through the
    ruins as best they could. Little resistance was encountered and the Bn
    reached the Boulevardes in the centre of the town without incident. At this
    point we were met by numerous Frenchmen of the Underground Movement who
    established an immediate liaison and led our troops down towards the ORNE.
    The civilians came out of their houses, cheered, sang and offered presents
    of food and wine. Their delight and sense of release was beyond question,
    which was very satisfactory for ourselves who doubted whether the extensive
    RAF bombing would make such a reception possible.
    Page 4 of 7
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    CAEN (France)10th.Henceferward mopping up became the order of the day, and, the next day all
    four Companies were engaged upon clearing the houses of such snipers and
    machine gunners as remained in CAEN. this side of the ORNE. The enemy
    made no attempt to counter attack and confined their activity to mortaring
    our forward positions in the town.
    During the day a firm link was established on our right flank with the 3rd
    Canadian Division, whose advance elements had entered the town from the
    West on the day before. Towards the evening a recce party of a Battalion
    from the 7th Canadian Brigade were at Bn HQ preparing to take over the Bn
    positions in CAEN.
    DOUVRES (France)11th.Today, during the early morning, the Bn began to leave CAEN and proceeded to their
    new location at 033801 outside DOUVRES.
    At the new location the Bn carried out administration, after nearly five weeks
    in the line -- they needed it to check losses of equipment, etc.
    DOUVRES (France)12th.Out of the battle area and out of range of enemy shells the Bn gave itself
    over to administration, entertainment and rest. A complete check of War
    Office controlled stores was carried out and losses were thoroughly assessed.
    At 2030 hrs the Commanding Officer held a conference.
    DOUVRES (France)13th.During the morning the Commanding Officer, accompanied by the Bn IO, visited
    the 2nd Army Headquarters. In the afternoon two parties from the Bn, which
    consisted of (one) the co, 2nd i/c and Bn Snipers and the other (two) the
    IO and I Section visited the Battle Fields of LA BIJURE St CONTEST and ERRON
    for the purpose of gaining some information of enemy positions such as A tk
    ditches, Machine Gun Posts and the camouflaging of same, also general layout
    of positions. The weather today was extremely hot.
    Page 5 of 7
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    DOUVRES (France)14th.The weather had changed considerably, being very dull with low clouds, giving
    the enemy a chance to use his aircraft but without success, two being shot
    down by AA gunners in our area. In the evening enemy aircraft again flew
    over the Bn area.
    During the day the whole Bn had a hot bath and a clean change of washing.
    DOUVRES (France)15th.The Commanding Officer held a conference at 0900 hrs, the Bn being informed
    afterwards that they were moving out sometime during the night.
    At 1500 hrs the Commanding Officer spoke to the Bn and told them that
    General Sir Bernard L. Montgomery, K.CB., D.S.O., was to have visited the
    Bn but at the last moment was unable to appear, so, instead, the Commanding
    Officer presented medal ribbons to the following Officers and Other Ranks
    of the Bn: Major W.D. TIGHE_WOOD, M.C., Capt J. MONTGOMERY, M.C.,
    Lieut S.M.LENNOX M.C., 7020028, Cpl C. O'REILLY, D.C.M., 7011691, L/Sjt
    R. McCANN, M.M., 7012171, Rfn. H. McGLENNON, M.M., 7014577, Rfn J. LONG, M.M.
    During the Bn stay at DOUVRES the following entertainments were arranged:
    Films, Stage Shows and a Divisional Club which had been established at
    LUC SUR MER. Our men took advantage of its facilities.
    At 2345 hrs the Bn moved out, transport was provided and the Bn arrived at its
    new location at 0400 hrs 16th July and proceeded to dig in.
    AMFREVILLE (France)16th.The weather today was very warm. After digging in during the early hours of
    the morning, most of the Bn spent the reminder of the day resting. In
    the evening two enemy aircraft flew over the Bn area
    AMFREVILLE (France)17th.Today was very quiet and the weather very warm.
    In the evening the Commanding Officer held a conference lasting three hours
    and he gave orders for an attack on TROARN. During these orders much
    Page 6 of 7
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    AMEREVILLE (France)17th. (Contdvaluable information about the nature of the TROARN country and enemy
    dispositions was given by officers of 9th Parachute Battalion, who, in
    the early stages of the campaign had come to know the ground intimately.
    LE MESNIL (France)18th.At 1000 hrs the Bn left AMFREVILLE for Assembly Area at LE MESNIL - See
    Appendix for today, 19th and 20th July.
    Appendix II & III.
    TROARN (France)20th.1508Rain began and continued throughout the day and night.
    TROARN (France)21st.During the day the Bn spent time improving its positions, though continuous
    rain made this difficult. Some shelling, though rain made everything
    very static.
    TROARN (France)22nd.Rain stopped today, but weather still dull and cloudy, so that some enemy
    aircraft were seen.
    Sparodic shelling and mortaring of Bn area.
    TROARN (France)23rd.Slight enemy shelling today in the Bn area caused no casualties.
    Weather began to mend after the previous few days.
    TROARN (France)24th.Much brighter today, and better weather brought more shelling.
    At teatime - a favourite choice - mortar and shellfire both heavy, Killing
    one man and Wounding three.
    During the morning two deserters came in from enemy lines, and on being
    questioned by interpreters, revealed much about enemy dispositions to our
    TROARN (France )25th,A quiet day with some enemy air activity just before darkness.
    Page 7 of 7
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    TROARN (France)27th.Shelling in the early morning caused four casualties..
    At midday, 7020028, Cpl C. O'REILLY of "A" Company, 7012171, Rfn H. McGLENNON
    of "D" Company and 7014577, Rfn J. LONG of "HQ" Company attended a parade
    at CAZELLE at which they received their decorations from the Commander-in-Chief,
    General Sir Bernard L. MONTGOMERY, K.C.B., D.S.O.
    The usual air activity by night.
    TROARN (France)28th.First signs of the Bn being releived when the Commending Officer of the
    2nd Harwicks arrived at 1100 hrs, closely followed by his recce party.
    Shelling was experienced, again at teatime, Killing one of our men and
    Injuring two others.
    TROARN (France)29th.1645Today our own recce party, under the Second in Command, went off to CAZELLE
    to fit the Bn into a rest area, to which it was to go after relief by
    185 Brigade.
    TROARN (France)30th.Our advance parties went to CAZELLE during the afternoon, but later they were
    informed that the move of the Bn was put off for 24 hours. Meanwhile, the Bn, news that the move was cancelled was received during the night.
    The higher plan had now changed, and, in the early hours, another advance
    party left the Battalion for BIEVILLE, 185 Brigade now remained at
    CAZELLE and at about 0900 hrs the 4th Bn Lincolns, from 49 Division,
    came forward to take their place.
    During the morning the whole Bn moved in, and our own men were all clear of
    the Position by 1400 hrs.
    It was a very hot. day, and the march from that position to BIEVILLE was a
    fatiguing one.
    See Appendix IV.
    The Bn was in its new position by 1730 hrs