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    War Diary: 4th - 7th Dragoon Guards

    Month and year: April 1944

    The 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards April 1944 War diary covers the units training in the UK including the Exercise SMASH which resulted in the death of 6 men from C and B Squadron

    National Archive Reference: WO 171/838

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    Page 1 of 10
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    CHIPPENHAM1The Q.M. attended a short conference at Bde. H.Q. in the morning.
    "A" Sqn fired 17-pdr at HOLKHAM Range: shooting was held up for
    some time by a fire which broke out on the range.
    2The Adjutant & Q.M. attended a conference at Bde. H.Q. at which
    accommodation in the new area was discussed. other units'
    Advance parties assembled in our and Notts Yeo camps in the
    evening preparatory to moving south to the SWAY area in the morning.
    3The Advance party of "A" & HQ Sqns left in the early morning
    and journeyed down to NEW MILTON (Hants) by road.
    The Recce Tp and members of the Tank Tp fired 37 mm and 75 mm
    respectively at BOYTON Range
    STUDLAND BAY4"B" & "C" Sqns took part in Exercise SMASH I with 50 (N) Div.,
    landing on STUDLAND Bay. Owing to a wind getting up with a
    strong sea six of the special craft were sunk, unfortunately
    resulting in the following becoming missing presumed drowned:-
    Page 2 of 10
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    STUDLAND BAY.4Lt. C.R.Gould, Sgt. Hartley, Cpl. Park '84, Tpr.Kirby and
    Tpr. Petty, all of "C" Squadron, and Cpl. Townson of "B" Squadron.
    CHIPPENHAM5The Adjutant attended a conference at Brigade H.Q. in the
    evening to settle details for the forthcoming move to NEW
    MILTON, Hants.
    Lt-Col.L.E.Misa,DSO., arrived on a short visit to the Regiment.
    6The C.O. returned from BOURNEMOUTH. The first two tank trains
    (conveying "A" Sqn tanks) left in the evening from NEWMARKET
    for BROCKENHURST (detraining station).
    The road party left for NEW MILTON.
    7Two more tank trains ("A" & HQ Sqn) left for the south.
    An Army Film Unit tock pictures of the entrainment and
    departure of the trains.
    Page 3 of 10
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    NEW MILTONHANTS.8"A" Sqn are located at HIGHCLIFFE and HQ Sqdn & RHQ at about
    3/4 mile north of NEW MILTON. "B" & "C" Squadrons are still
    at BOURNEMOUTH. The 2 i/c and Adjutant visited "B" & "C"
    Sqns in the afternoon.
    9Officers and other ranks of the regiment, the Brigade Commander
    and Brigade Major (Brigadier J. A. Craycroft and Major L.Biddle),
    and officers and other ranks of the 24th Lancers, attended a
    Memorial service held at BOURNEMOUTH for Lt. C. R. Gould,
    Sgt. V. Hartley, Cpl.A.J.Park, Cpl. V. N. Townson, Tpr.E.G.petty
    and Tpr. A.Kirby, who were drowned on 4th April, at the end
    of the Service (which was conducted by the Vicar - the Rev.
    Woods, and old member of the 7th D.G. - and the padre attached
    to the Brigade - the REV. Green) two trumpeters of the Regiment
    sounded the Last Post and Reveille.
    10The C.O. and san. Leaders attended a conference on Exercise
    Page 4 of 10
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    NEW MILTON10SMASH I (in which "B" & "C" Squadrons participated).
    11-14All Squadrons working hard waterproofing vehicles preparatory
    for exercise SMASH III - involving all Tide I vehicles.
    11Postal censorship started: all letters to be censored by officers.
    12The REV. Captain Davies joined the regiment for permanent
    attachment as our Padre (Church of England).
    13The C.O. attended a conference at Brigade HQ in the afternoon.
    Major J.A.d'Avigdor Goldsmid lectured to all crew commanders
    and vehicle drivers on the organisation of the B.M.A. (Beach
    Maintenance Area) and showed what signs we would expect to
    see on landing and what they indicated.
    Major G.K.Barker went to Kings Lynn to attend a 7th Armd. Div.
    14Tanks and vehicles taking part in SMASH III moved into the
    marshalling areas north of Southampton, vehicles coming in
    Page 5 of 10
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    NEW MILTON14on Tide I only are to participate and some of those are going
    C.O. attended another conference at Brigade H.Q. in the
    15A tragic accident occurred today when 2/Lt. R.H.Pillman of
    "C" Squadron was killed when he walked on a mine when playing
    golf at BARTON with his brother Lieut. C.H.Pillman and Captain
    Richards of "A" squadron: they were looking for a ball which
    had been driven off the fairway and unwittingly walked into
    a mined enclosure, the other officers were uninjured.
    All the tanks and other vehicles going Wetshod on SMASH III
    embarked today on to L.C.T's and L.S.T's (transport only) at
    Southampton: "B" & "C" with their DD's embarked at POOLE.
    The craft then tied up in Southampton Water for the night.
    161800Craft put to sea for SMASH III.
    Page 6 of 10
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    In the field170700H hour was 0700 hrs: "B" & "C" sans touched down on STUDLAND
    beach at H-5 having come in very well, but were a little
    bunched on arriving. "B" on the right supporting 6 Green Howards,
    "C" on left supporting 5 E Yorks, "A" Sqn (coming in at H + 60)
    supporting the reserve Bn. of the 69 Inf. Bde. - the 7 Green
    Howards. RHQ came in at H+60: most Shermans of "A" & RHQ
    had about a four foot wade which they all accomplished without
    any trouble at all. Tide I vehicles of the echelon scheduled to
    come in at H+4 1/2 hrs did not arrive until much later in the day
    off their L.S.T's
    Co-operation with the infantry worked well and Phase I consisting
    of capture of a road running parallel to the beach for about 1000 yds
    about 1/4 mile to 1/2 mile inland by "B" Sqn and the 6 G.Howards, and
    of the assault by 5 E. Yorks with "C" Sqn on the KNOIL House Hotel
    STUDLAND & WOODHOUSE was successfully completed. Meanwhile
    Page 7 of 10
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    In the Field.170700"A" SQn linked up with the 7 Green Howards and attacked a Howitzer
    position which dominated the 69 Bde's axis of advance: this attack
    was successful but there was some unnecessary "milling about" by
    certain "A" Sqn tanks when getting into their positions. End of
    Phase I. Phase II. "C" Sqn then rallied and replenished from
    Tide I POL lorries which had arrived: OC"C" Sqn contacted 9 DLI
    (151 Bde ) and prepared to support them in their attack on to
    STUBOROUGH (3507): this involved switching over the Sqn to the
    right (i.e. north west). "B" Sqn supported 6 Green Howards on to
    their objective - a further 1 1/2 to 2 miles inland in area WYTCH
    FARM reverting on conclusion of this to Regtl Command (this took
    place in the afternoon). "A" Sqn supported 7 Green Howards in the
    advance westwards on line NEWTON and railway running South west,
    and at conclusion of this rallied and joined RHQ in the afternoon
    in area HIGHER BUSHEY FARM (4003).
    Page 8 of 10
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    In the Fd.STUDLAND Bay Area.171700"B" & "C" Sqns tanks had to be reembarked at 1700 hrs on to LCTs
    to return to STANSWOOD BAY (new location) so as far as they were
    concerned the exercise was ended now. The Comdg Offr went
    forward in the evening and again contacted the Brigadier Knox
    of 69 Inf Bde and "A" Sqn and RHQ moved on through CORFE, "A"
    Sqn taking up position near the 7 Green Howards prepared to take
    on any counter attack about three miles east of CORFE Castle:
    they were in fairly close country with a long ridge of hills
    running east to west on their right flank. No counter attack
    developed and the night was quiet. RHQ spent the night in a
    field hear CORFE Castle and the echelon (i.e. those on Tide I
    and II - ammunition and petrol lorries) which came in off LSTs
    on Rhino rafts joined us in harbour.
    CORFE Castlle Area.180900Exercise ended. "A" and RHQ dispersed to billets by road.
    19 & 20Maintenance and de-waterproofing. "A" Sqn fired 17-pdr at LULWORTH
    Page 9 of 10
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    NEW MILTON211000Comdg Offr held a Sqn Ldrs conference at which the recent exercise
    was discussed.
    223 tanks RHQ and 7 from "A" Sqn moved to LULWORTH preparatory to
    firing 75mm to-morrow.
    LULWORTH23"A" & RHQ gunners fired at LULWORTH on the Heath range: "Super"
    HE ammunition was used and results were good.
    NEW MILTON24Sqns preparing all D Day vehicles for exercise FABIUS. They are
    to be completed by 28th April.
    25Comdg Offr and Sqn Ldrs attended a conference at RINGWOOD on the
    last exercise. A draft of three O.Rs arrived - potential Dvr.
    Mechs A.F.V. and were posted 2 to "C" and 1 to "A" Sqn.
    26Major J.A.d Avigdor Goldsmid and 2/Lt. O.L. Holmes attended a
    bombing demonstration at STUDLAND Bay in the afternoon.
    27Marshalling for exercise FABIUS due to start - no orders received
    Page 10 of 10
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    NEW MILTON282130Orders received (via Bde from Movement Control) for marshalling
    of all vehicles taking part in exercise FABIUS II. All the
    transport concerned was scheduled to leave early on 29th April
    so orders to Squadrons had to be rushed out as quickly as possible
    29same night. All parties got off to time.
    30Tanks of "A" & RHq moved to marshalling areas for FABIUS II.
    Certain unaccompanied G.1098 stores for the operation (from
    Q.M. ) was sent to MILWALL to-day.