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War Diary: 4th - 7th Dragoon Guards

Month and year: August 1944

The diary covers the 4th - 7th Dragoon Guards fighting around Caumont and Cahagnes to the cathedral town of Beauvais.

National Archive Reference: WO 171/838

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Page 1 of 19
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
1. The Regt. moved out from area NE of CAUMONT very early, the
Commanding Officer's and Sergt. Porter's tanks moving with 214 Bde
HQ. 1 Worcs. led followed by 2nd S.L.I with "B" & "A" Sqns.
respectively. objective was CAHAGNES and high ground beyond.
RHQ moved in morning to CAHAGNES with Bde H.Q. where they were
shelled. Sqns. saw their Inf. on despite some opposition. By
mid-day "B" Sqn. were within 400 yds of their objective. "C" sqn.
working with D.C.L.I. brewed up a Panther and took some prisoners,
"A" and "C" Sqns. were released and returned to harbour in the
evening "B" Sqn. remaining out until 2130 hrs. with their Inf.
The Regt. harboured N. of CAHAGNES that night and remained in
that area most of the next day. captain D.J. Collins who had
been Technical Adjt. since November, 1943 was unfortunately
killed by a shell in the evening when returning from recovering
a "B" sqn. tank. He was a most energetic officer and a very able
Page 2 of 19
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
1 Cont Technical Adjutant.
2 Orders received for us to move with the 214 Bde thorough JURQUES
on to DUVAL (7945) "B" Sqn. working with D.C.L.I. "C" Sqn. with
the Worcs. and "A" Sqn. with the S.L.I. "B" & "C" Squadrons
joined their Inf. in the evening "A" Sqn. not moving till following
morning.
3 Inf. were held up S. of JURQUES where the enemy were on a high
feature which wes almost unapproachable for tanks except up the
main road. However "B" Sqn. pushed on to JURQUES and helped
the D.C.L.I. on to their objective from which they already had
to come about 400 yds. "A" Sqn. supplying supporting fire from
the left. Tigers were reported in the area and at mid-day a
Typhoon attack was seen to go in on them. "A" sqn. being in a
very good position acted very successfully as an O.P. for the
Gunners who hit an enemy tank.
Page 3 of 19
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
3 contd. 1830 hrs. The Commanding officer held "0" Gp. though there were
no actual orders available for us as yet, but quick move probable,
the Inf. to do a detour on to their objective without tank support.
4. No move. Every indication of enemy withdrawing, and the Inf. were
trying to maintain contact by pushing on to their final objective
SE of JURQUES.
5. The Regt. married up again with the Inf. (214 Bde) and RHQ moved
in the morning to area LE MESNIL AUZOF. In the meantime operations
being carried on by 50 Div. with 13/18 H and SRY with the object
capturing MT. PINCON feature.
2200. warning order issued for Operation BLACKWATER (dependant upon
the capture of MT. PINCON and PLESSIS GRIMOULT. 53 Recce Regt.
(commanded by Lt.Col.L.Williams) have obtained a crossing at
THURY HARCOURT. Intention. 43 Div. will secure crossing at
CONDE SUR NOIREAU, 8 Armd.Bde. less 13/18 H. leading on two
Page 4 of 19
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
5.contd. routes with the Regiment on East route with under command
12 KRRC and Troop W.Dragoons (Flails).
6. 30 Commanding officer and Adjutant attended conference at Brigade
obtaining details of route and orders for Operation BLACKWATER.
Marrying up with Tps. under Comd. (FOOs from 86 Fld.Regt. R.Es.
and flails) completed by 0700 hrs.
operation timed to start 1000 hrs. was postponed until 1830 hrs.
when the Regiment moved out with "A" Sgn. and "A" Coy of the
12 KRRC leading. We were directed on to CONDE SUR NOIREAU
via LA QUESNE and LA PLESSIS GRINOULT. 214 Inf.Bde. to follow on
the routes used by 8 Armd.Bde. The advance proceeded about 4
miles and the whole column halted in a narrow defile and later
the Regt. curled up in the best place it could find off the road
for the night. During the night "A" Coy. had to send out a
patrol to the X-rds which got badly mortared and the R.Es
Page 5 of 19
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
6 Cont successfully bull-dozed a bomb crater under fire.
7. Change of plan. The Regt. is to return to 50 Div. less "C" Sqn
who would remain under comd. 43 Div. RHQ established for the
day at HQ 214 Inf. Bde. "A" & "B" Sqns. engaged in assisting the
12 KRRC in dealing with enemy on our right flank.
8. Night was quiet. The commanding officer visited in the
morning. 12 KRRC were engaged by enemy coming up from the
SOUTH and "C" Sqn. in the afternoon (with two Tps only) were
engaged in supporting the Worcs. in clearing up operations along
the road WEST of LE PLESSIS GRIMOULT and this operation
proceeded satisfactorily. Later in the evening "A", "B" & RHQ
less C.Os and Sergt.Porter's tanks moved to POSTY on Northern
slopes of MT. PINCON PRIOR TO MARRYING UP WITH 69 Inf. Bde.
9. The remainder of RHG joined the Regt. at POSTY in the morning
and the Inf.Bde. attack went in the morning Inf. being
Page 6 of 19
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
9 Contd. carried on the backs of tanks. LE PLESSIS GRIMOULT was taken
and RHQ moved down SOUTH of this town with HQ 69 Bde where for
a time they were shelled and mortared, Sergt.Porter being
concussed. "C" sqn. still with 43 Div. did very well, a
large number of prisoners being taken. unfortunately Major T.M.
Bell who had had command of the Squadron since August 1941 was
killed by a shell when on a dismounted recce with the Inf.Coy.
comd. The loss of Major T.M.Bell was a great blow. "A" &
"B" sqns. harboured for the night to the rear of their Inf.Bns,
10 The commanding officer issued orders in the afternoon. our
attachment to the 69 Bde is finished and the Regt. now come
under cound. of 213 Bde. with "A" sqn. with Devons, "B" with
Dorsets and "C" with Hants. ("C" Sqn. having returned to the
Regt. in the early morning). Intention was to advance SOUTH
and capture ST.PIERRE LA VIELLE on the high ground to the SOUTH
Page 7 of 19
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
10 Cont The Operation commenced at 0830 hrs. 11 August. The day was
spent as far as possible resting and maintaining. Some shells
landed in "C" Sqn. area in the evening killing Tpr.Walters of
HQ and injuring 6 others of HQ and "C" Sqn.
11. Attack started as scheduled RHQ now being with 231 Bde. (the
other side of the road from 69 Inf.Bde). By 0900 hrs. the
Inf. were nearing their first objective which was ST.PIERRE LA
VIELLE and by 1100 hrs. the village was entered by both the
Devons and the Hants. "A" with the Devons knocked out an
A/Tk. gun and took 18 prisoners of war. The ground on the
right was difficult and "C" Sqn. could not get on but they
were ordered to push through and did a flanker round the
village, two tanks getting ditched. "C" Sqn. eventually
moved EAST on to the road and went into the village by that
way Pt.229 dominating feature to the WEST of the village
Page 8 of 19
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
11 Cont was still occupied by the Bosche who had a S.P. gun there. "A"
and "C" Sqns. harboured in the afternoon and the RSM had a hard
time getting supplies to them in the dark and everyone was
extremely tired after a hard day. "B" Sqn. did not come in
12 600 "A" moved out again and joined the Devons on the left "B"
Sqn. remaining with the Dorsets, "C" Sqn. not operating during
the morning, but remaining in fire position on the right, The
Inf. pushed on to the next feature fairly quickly, but "B" Sqn.
were unable to get on it as whenever they came to the reverse
slope they were fired on by S.P. from pt.229. "B" Sqn. had an
extremely sticky day and had one tank brewed up when coming out
in the evening,another one was knocked out and Lieut.M.A.Norman
who had been regularly in command of his Troop since D-Day
was wounded by his own phosphorous smoke grenade which went
off in his tank. All three Sqns. came back to harbour in the
Page 9 of 19
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
12 Cont. evening to Area SOUTH of LE PLESSIS GRIMOULT.
13. The Commanding officer held a Squadron Leaders' conference in
the morning on the subject of re-inforcements, and the rest of the
day until the evening was spent in maintenance. In the
evening the Regt. withdrew to go back for a rest in the area of
ROBIN (WEST of AUNAY SUR ODON) The rest of the Bde. also
came back to this area. A warning order received for parade
to-morrow for visit by Lt.Gen, B.G.HORROCKS C.B., D.S.O., M.C.
commander 30 corps.
14. All available personnel were trasported over to 13/18 H in the
afternoon when the Corps Commander Lt.Gen.B.G. HORROCKS spoke to
al ranks about the course of the war and future operations.
Many of us remembered him as G.O.C. 9 Armd. Div. when we were
in that formation in 1941. Baths and ENSA entertainment were
laid on for 13th, 14th and 15th August and 30 Corps Welfare
Page 10 of 19
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
14th. Contd. Officer visited us to see that during our period of rest all
possible welfare arrangements were made.
The Regiment remained resting until 17th August when warning
order issued for big advance SOUTH and then EAST once agáin with
69 Inf.Bde.
Information was that 19th U.S.Corp on our right, ourselves and
30 Corps centre, 12 Corp on left. 8 Armd.Bde were under Comd.
50 Div. and were preceded by 11 Armd.Div. along our route. Our
route was to be AUNAY-SUR-ODON- ATHIS - PUTANGES - ARGENTAN -
GACE - LAIGLE - BRETEUIL. In the afternoon the Regiment moved to
concentration area of the 69 Inf. Bde. at ROUCAMPS on MT. PINCON
passing through the uttely uninhabitable town of AUNAY-SUR-ODON
en route.
2100 The commanding officer gave out orders. our move would be a
"Peace" one, Recce parties preceding our advance. Little was
Page 11 of 19
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
17 Contd known about the enemy who was going back pretty fast except that
a very large number of them were trapped in the FALAISE pocket.
We would be passing SOUTH of this pocket. 50 Div. were to pass
through 43 Div in the FLERS area and then move two up EAST.
"B" Sqn. were to be leading Sqn.
18. Move from ROUCAMPS commenced 0800 hrs. 61 Recce leading followed
by harbour parties, A/A Regt. and then ourselves with the rest
of 69 Bde. following and a Troop of flails under our comd. right
at the rear. Our harbour area was reached about mid-day, a
pleasant ground near ROYFLEURE. In the evening orders issued for
a short move of only 6 miles taking us to the SOUTH of ROYFLEURE.
19. Move completed by 1000 hrs. Afternoon spent in recreation,
Squadron Leaders conference held in the evening. No operation
orders yet received for to-morrow.
20. 0700. Orders received for quick move, but only for a distance of 10
Page 12 of 19
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
20. Cont miles. The Regiment moved out at 1000 hrs. preceded again by
recce patties, and we arrived at MENIL GONDOUIN at mid-day.
In the evening orders from 69 Bde. to push on further. This
move was completed in the dark, the Regiment harbouring at
NAUX de BARDUAD (2612), whe re it was extremely wet and most
people got clothes and bedding wet.
21. The Regiment remained in same location. orders issued in the
evening, and once again Recce parties to go on ahead. We
would continue our advance with 69 Inf.Bde. going via ARGENTAN -
EXMES and GACE (which we might have to clear up).
22. Regiment moved out in the morning "A" Sqn. leading 69 Inf.Bde.
RHQ set up at EXMES in the evening. Order were given out for
further advance tommorrow.
23. The Regiment moved out at 0815 hrs. By 1015 hrs. "A" Sqn.
were within 2 miles of Rugles. "A" Sqn. entered RUGLES in the
Page 13 of 19
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
23 Contd. afternoon and had a great reception from the inhabitants who
sai d the Bosche had pulled out only a few hours before in or on
any form of transport he could get hold of. Bridge over a
stream here had been partially damaged by the Hun and the local
inhabitants set to with all hands to make it usable.
24. Orders for the day were that the Regiment will move to
concentration area the other side of RUGLES preceded by
harbour party and this move was completed fairly early, and we
set up in an orchard East of RUGLES. No further move for us
that day. The Brigadier called in the afternoon and spoke to
Squadron Leaders and told us that 50 Div. with 8 Armd.Bde. less
ourselves were being called upon to relieve another formation.
We ourselves would be going to 214 Bde (43 Div.) making for
VERNON to obtain a crossing over the SEINE there. Orders
received for move to 214 Bde late at night.
Page 14 of 19
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
25. The Adjutant went back some 30 miles and collected the orders
for move from 214 Bde. The Regiment moved out at 1300 hrs.
"C" Sqn. leading with their Inf.Bn. A long march - no enemy
were met and every village turned out to greet us with cheers
and flowers as we went by. The route was via BRETEUIL -
DAMVILLE. The Regiment arrived in this harbour NE of BRETEUIL
about 5 miles from VERNON
26. No move to-day. The Regiment teed up ready to cross the SEINE
when the bridge was completed. The Inf. crossed in assault
boats. The 130 Bde. had a footing across the SEINE by mid-day
crossing over the old bridge at VERNON which had been blown.
The Regiment was prepared to cross the river that evening on
rafts tank by tank, two tanks crossing per hour. on the other
side guides from the Inf.Bns. were to meet us and take us to
their Bns. areas. First tank of "A" Sqn. crossed at 0700 hrs.
Page 15 of 19
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
26 Contd 27th. on the raft, the first British tank to cross the SEINE.
Crossings were continued through the day until the class 40
Bridge was completed by about 1500 hrs. RHQ then moved over
by the bridge. The Commanding Officer remained at 214 Bde. in
VERNON itself until the following morning It was learned
8 Armd. Bde. who were to have gone across some 40 miles to the
SOUTH were coming up across our bridge. Bridgehead on the
EAST bank of the SEINE was farly small and the Regiment
harboured in close proximity to the BOSCHE. This evening the
Regiment came under comd. 130 Bde.
28, "c" Sqn. on the left with 5th Dorsets, ":"B" Sqn. on the right
with D. C.L.I., "A" sqn. in the centre with 4th Dorsets
commenced an attack at 0900 hrs. to extend SEINE Bridgehead
in direction of TILLY. Ground was very close to start off
with and fairly ste ep. However the attack progressed. By
Page 16 of 19
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
28 Contd mid day they were on better ground; "C" Sqn. got on well until
being held up by S.P. on the main road. Lieutenant O.L.Holmes
"C" Sqn. was unfortunately killed when doing dismounted recce.
He was a very valuable officer and Troop Leader. By 1700 hrs.
the Inf. were on their objective, and "A" Sqn, pushing on
quickly captured another village actually beyond the original
objective. Information received that 8 Armd. Bde. would
operate to-morrow as an Armoured Bde, and we would be
rejoining them. In the late evening the Regiment left 130 Bde.
and moved SOUTH to 8 Armd.Bde. area preparatory to big move
to-morrow. The commanding officer held a conference in the
late evening for Operation Supercharge No.2. Orders were
briefly as follows:-
Information:- Enemy 49th German Inf.Div. are on the NORTH.
of us 18th G.A.F. Div. to the SOUTH. Our own Troops; on our
Page 17 of 19
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
28 Contd extreme right U.S.A.Forces heading for RHEIMS, 11 Armd.Div. are
on our left and the Inns of Court would be moving ahead on our
routes.
Intention: To force a crossing over the SOMME at AMIENS.
Method: Bde. will move two up, 13/18 H.Gg. on the right,
S.R.Y. on the left; ourselves less one Squadron moving in the
main body. This operation was really to break out of the
VERNON Bridgehead and once through the enemy crust drive on in
pursuit to the SOMMET
29. Heavy rain fell in the morning, and as 13/18 H. met some
opposition in the area of GASNEY, the Regiment was not allowed
on the road until late in the afternoon when we moved slowly
through GASNEY to harbour area EAST of DONJUE. 13/18 H.
reached DONZIE having quite a battle en route, shooting up quite
a lot of transport and getting a crossing over the river at
Page 18 of 19
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
29 Contd DONJUE. O Gp. held at 2345 hrs. Intention for tomorrow -
push on to GISHORS and bey-ond towards BEAUVAIS, "C" Squadron to
lead with a company of the 60th under Comd. and a Troop of
Flails.
30 moved out from Harbour 0630 hrs. and continued the advance.
"C" Sqn. entered GISORS. Bridge was intact as we came into
the town where there were still Enemy snipers. The Hun blew
up a train which was in the station. After GISORS we pushed
on to LA LONDALE, and by 1340 hrs. rad covered 34 miles.
1400. After plain motoring from GISORS "C" Sqn. were held up 5 miles
w. of BEAUVAIS by a burning panther tank and they destroyed a
Staff car which was coming up to the panther with supplies,
On the outskirts of BEAUVAIS an A/Tk gun was met and "C" Sqn.
knocked it out and by 1630 hrs. were in BEAUVAIS after shooting
up the BOSCHE in the streets and brewing up a King Tiger in the
centre of the town.
Page 19 of 19
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
30. Contd In the engagement at BEAUVAIS Major JAMES Coy. Comd. of the
12 K.R.R.C. was killed. Meanwhile 13/18 H. were coming up in
the direction of BEAUVAIS on the route to the right of ours and
met some opposition, and some of the german transport retiring
before the 13/18 H. Were shot up by "A" Squadron who took up
position SOUTH of the town covering the roads. The Regiment
had a triumphal passage through this cathedral town of BEAUVAIS
and harboured some 3 miles to the EAST all night in Bde laager.
31. Remained in harbour area 1700 hrs. when RECCE parties
were sent off followed by the Regiment who moved in Bde.
column to another harbour area SOUTH of AMIENS.