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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
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
CHIPPENHAM 1 The 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.
2 The 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.
3 The 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 BAY 4 "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
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
STUDLAND BAY. 4 Lt. C.R.Gould, Sgt. Hartley, Cpl. Park '84, Tpr.Kirby and
Tpr. Petty, all of "C" Squadron, and Cpl. Townson of "B" Squadron.
CHIPPENHAM 5 The 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.
6 The 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.
7 Two 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
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
NEW MILTON HANTS. 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.
9 Officers 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.
10 The C.O. and san. Leaders attended a conference on Exercise
Page 4 of 10
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
NEW MILTON 10 SMASH I (in which "B" & "C" Squadrons participated).
11-14 All Squadrons working hard waterproofing vehicles preparatory
for exercise SMASH III - involving all Tide I vehicles.
11 Postal censorship started: all letters to be censored by officers.
12 The REV. Captain Davies joined the regiment for permanent
attachment as our Padre (Church of England).
13 The 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.
T.E.W.T.
14 Tanks and vehicles taking part in SMASH III moved into the
marshalling areas north of Southampton, vehicles coming in
Page 5 of 10
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
NEW MILTON 14 on Tide I only are to participate and some of those are going
dryshod.
C.O. attended another conference at Brigade H.Q. in the
morning.
15 A 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.
16 1800 Craft put to sea for SMASH III.
Page 6 of 10
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
In the field 17 0700 H 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
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
In the Field. 17 0700 "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
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
In the Fd. STUDLAND Bay Area. 17 1700 "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. 18 0900 Exercise ended. "A" and RHQ dispersed to billets by road.
19 & 20 Maintenance and de-waterproofing. "A" Sqn fired 17-pdr at LULWORTH
Page 9 of 10
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
NEW MILTON 21 1000 Comdg Offr held a Sqn Ldrs conference at which the recent exercise
was discussed.
22 3 tanks RHQ and 7 from "A" Sqn moved to LULWORTH preparatory to
firing 75mm to-morrow.
LULWORTH 23 "A" & RHQ gunners fired at LULWORTH on the Heath range: "Super"
HE ammunition was used and results were good.
NEW MILTON 24 Sqns preparing all D Day vehicles for exercise FABIUS. They are
to be completed by 28th April.
25 Comdg 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.
26 Major J.A.d Avigdor Goldsmid and 2/Lt. O.L. Holmes attended a
bombing demonstration at STUDLAND Bay in the afternoon.
27 Marshalling for exercise FABIUS due to start - no orders received
Page 10 of 10
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
NEW MILTON 28 2130 Orders 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
29 same night. All parties got off to time.
30 Tanks 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.

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