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    War Diary: 5th Battalion Duke Cornwall Light Infantry

    Month and year: April 1944

    The 5th Battalion Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry (DCLI) April 1944 War Diary covers the unit training and taking part in Exercises Sabre I and Sabre II

    National Archive Reference: WO 171/1280

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    Page 1 of 16
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    FOLKESTONE1A + B Coys had a free day
    C & D Coys completed their march back from the
    River Medway which they had started on the previous
    evening. The Coys marched between 40 and 50 miles
    in under 24 hours.
    The Co. carried out a recce of the defensive posn
    which the Bn had been ordered to take up for
    the beginning of EXERCISE SABRE I (4-6 - April)
    310 Junior NCO's went to 43 Div Battle
    School for a Section Leader's Course
    all Offrs and N.C.O's down to Section
    Commanders carried out a recce of the defensive
    position to be taken up by 1200 hrs the following
    4-6The Bn took part in 43 Div EXERCISE SABRE I
    Page 2 of 16
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    set and directed by the Div. Comd. The object of the
    exercise was to practise "Thrust-line" tactics
    at the beginning of the exercise the Bn was
    given an independent role in which it represented
    a Bn of another Div in the line in contact
    with the enemy; the idea being that 43 Div tps
    would break out of their concentration area and
    pass through the troops holding the bridgehead
    early on the morning of the 5th april. On the
    evening of the 4th April, the Bn was relieved
    in the line by 7 Bn Hants, and for the rest of
    the exercise came under command of 214 Bde.
    On the 5th April, 214 Bde followed 130 Bde along
    the Div thrust line using "quick-lift" method of
    transportation (The Exercise was carried out on light
    Page 3 of 16
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    scales). At 1800 hrs the Div Comd issued orders
    for the Div to advance "two - up" (hitherto the
    advance had been "one - up") and for 214 Bde to
    move by another route on the Northern flank
    of 130 Bde. The Div intension was to secure
    the high ground to the East of the river
    Medway, with a view to sending patrols across
    the river and later forcing a crossing of the
    Owing to congestion of traffic on the roads, the
    Bn took rather longer to reach the objective
    than was anticipated and this, together
    with the fact that patrol leaders had had no
    opportunity of recce in daylight resulted in
    Ausrather unsuccessful patrolling during the night
    Page 4 of 16
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    Only one of the four patrols which had been sent
    out succeeded in crossing the river, and this patrol
    brought back no identifications.
    the Exercise terminated at about 1200 hrs and
    the Bn returned to Folkestone by quick lift.
    7C and D Coys were given a free day
    8A and B Coys were given a free day.
    9Censorship was imposed throughout the Division
    wef 0001 hrs The regulations included censorship
    under unit arrangements of all private mail,
    telegrams, parcels etc and also restriction of
    telephone calls.
    0930An Easter Day Church parade service, was held in
    Holy Trinity Church, FOLKESTONE and was
    Conducted by Rev A.E. Gibbons, Methodist Chaplain
    Page 5 of 16
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    attached to the Bn The Bde Comd, accompanied by
    the staff Capt attanded the service.
    1100The 2ND-in-Command, Capt James, gave a talk
    to all Officers regarding censorship and their
    duties regarding the franking of OR's letters.
    1200This was followed by a talk to the Baltalion
    explaining the need for censorship and regulations
    which had come into force.
    10Staff Capt 214 Bde held an Adjt's conference
    at which it was Explained that the Bde would
    move to the area of BATTLE, SUSSEX at the
    end of EXERCISE SABRE II (13-15 April the move
    was to be regarded as "Most Secret" as it was
    in fact the "unofficial" concentration of the Div,
    and only those offers and OR's to whom it was
    Page 6 of 16
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    essential that the information be passed, should be
    1730The Commanding officer held a conferrace of
    Coy Comds, M.T.O. and RQMS APPLETON acting QM during
    illness of Lt Renick and explained his plans for
    the move.
    11w.e.f. 0001 hrs the Bn adopted the following
    closed address :- 5th Bn D.C.L.I.
    90 A.P.O. England
    0920The Commanding Officer attended a conference at
    214 Bde H.Q.
    1700The Commanding Officer held a second conference
    at which final details were issued regarding:-
    1) Concentration of Main Body of Bn for Ex. SABRE II
    2) Move of the Adv. Party to CROWHURST, PARK Nr Battle
    (3) Handing over by Rear Party at FOLKESTONE to a Cdn unit
    Page 7 of 16
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    12a draft of 18 O.R.'s arrived from 8 Mx???, and
    were inspected soon after arrival by the CO. The
    draft contained many men with Experience of
    carrier-driving and DR duties, who will doubt
    less prove useful reserve specialists.
    13-15The Bn took part in the Div Exercise SABRE II
    The setting was the same as SABRE I, but this
    time 214 Bde was the leading Bde on the Div.
    Thrust line On the 13th the Bn remained in a
    concentration area and received orders for the advance
    which was to take place on the following day. On
    the 14th the Bn advanced some 30 miles by "quick
    lift" and dealt with light enemy opposition on the
    way in a very satisfactory manner. On the night of
    the 14th / 15th the Bn carried out an extremely efficient
    Page 8 of 16
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    river crossing, using defiladed searchlights to
    creat artificial moonlight. A Bn position was
    established on the far bank and tpt was brought
    across by rafts constructed by the Pioneer Platoon
    and a bridge constructed by the RE. The
    exercise ended at about 1200 hrs on the 15 th after
    the enemy had put in a spirited Counter-attack,
    which had however been anticipated and was
    therefore successfully beaken off.
    13-15Whilst the Bn had been out on Exercise SABRE
    II, the Advance Pty under Capt Coode had gone to
    CROWHURST PARK, near BATTLE, SUSSEX / and had been
    erecting a tented camp which was ready to
    received the Bn when it marched in on 16th April.
    15On the Conclusion of Exercise SABRE II, the
    Page 9 of 16
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    Bn moved by march route to a bivouac area
    at HORMONDSEY where Coys spent the night 15/16
    AWapril in farm buildings
    16The Bn marched from HORMONDSEY to
    CROWHURST PARK (approx 16 miles),whilst the
    Bn Tpt proceeded ahead independently. The heavy
    rain of the past few days made the camp site
    extremely muddy and together with a lack of
    drying accommodation made conditions rather bad.
    A draft of 49 OR's arrived from the 4th Bn
    D.C.L.I. which again included a number of trained
    171000All offers & W.O.'s I & II attended the conference
    on Exercises SABRE I and II, at which the
    Div Comd summed up the lessons learnt from
    Page 10 of 16
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    the Exercise, and displayed a new mine-prodder",
    which was shortly going to be issued on the
    scale of one per vehicle.
    The Section Leaders Course at the Div Battle School
    1830The Co held a conference in the lounge of
    CROWHURST PARK CLUB, of which all officers are
    temporary members:- - attendance all Coy Comds
    The C.O. directed that every effort be made to
    make the camp tidy and conditions generally
    better. Paths would be constructed with white-washed
    posts, tents would be allocated for drying purposes
    and for barber's shop and recreation etc. Until
    the NAAFI opened on the 25th April suppers would
    be provided under arrangements to be made by
    Page 11 of 16
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    the newly appointed messing officer - Lt Portrait
    18The CO and all Rifle Coy Comds attended a
    demonstration of Street Fighting at EAST BOURNE,
    given by 43 Div Battle School.
    181800The C.O. held a conference of Coy Comds to
    settle promotions to fill W.E. (incl ,1st Reinforcements)
    and the formation of the a "R" Coy , as orders
    had been received that "R" Coy would be
    formed forthwith. Lts Hanson and Aylarin??? were posted
    to "R" Coy
    197 Junior NCO's went away on a Section Leaders
    Course at 43 Div Battle School.
    Coy Comds carried out a recce of local tng
    Bn HQ offices were transferred to a nearby
    Page 12 of 16
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    requisitioned house and the mess was also establish
    20All officers attended a study period an "Continental
    Maps" given by the Int offr in preparation for a
    Bde Officers Continental map-reading Viva Voce
    Compatition on the 22nd April 5
    225 DCLI officers won the Bde Map Reading
    Compatition held at Bde HQ and conducted by
    the Bde Comd.
    "R" Coy was formed.
    231000Major James carried out an administrative
    inspection of the Bn Lines in the absence of
    the Commanding Officar who was away on a
    Course of instruction on the German Army (21st - 29th April)
    The 2 i/c was accompanied by the R.M.O. and RQMS.
    Page 13 of 16
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    1200A drumhead service was held in the NAAFI
    tent, and attended by the whole Bn.
    24Trials were Carried out under the direction of
    O.C. "S" Coy - (Capt PEG Coode) in the sandbagging of
    vehicles, as a means of safeguarding the driver
    and his make against the effects of A/The mines.
    The resultant additional load to vehicles which
    were already overloaded was carefully considered.
    An exercise was held to practise all drivers
    in prodding for mines laid in verges of the
    road and likely Vehicle concentration areas. The
    exercise demonstrated clearly the urgent need for
    further practice in this important subject.
    252 i/c (Major James) and all Coy Comds attended
    a lecture on "Civil affairs" at Tenterden. The
    Page 14 of 16
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    lecture dealt with the many civil problems which
    will have to be faced by an army which
    invades Europe which is under the heal of the
    1800An R/T Exercise for half the officers of
    the Bn was held in the Officers Mess and
    given by the Sig Offr. The objects were to practice
    (I) RT. procedure
    (II) Wireless Security
    (III) Slidex and Map Ref Code
    (IV) Continental Map reading
    another exercise for M.T. drivers was held
    to practise mine prodding. Those M.T. drivers who
    had not attended on the preceding evening took
    Page 15 of 16
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    261800a R/T Exercise was held for those Officers
    who had not attended on the previous evening.
    The exercise was identical with that held on
    the 25th.
    A film "Gentleman Jim" was shown in the
    NAAFI tent.
    27100 all ranks from the Bn marched to
    BEXHILL to attend a lecture by Major Nailson
    (of the Ministry of Supply) on German Small Arms
    Weapons A few of those attending were given
    the opportunity of firing some of the weapons
    30A service was held in the NAAFI Tent, and
    conducted by the Senior Chaplain of the Div:-
    Major Neill, RAC.D. The Bde Comd attended, accompanied
    Page 16 of 16
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    by the Staff Capt.
    In the afternoon a tea-party was held in
    the Officers Mess to which a few Officers'
    wives came.