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War Diary: 5th-bn-duke-cornwall-light-infantry

Month and year: June 1944

The 5th Battalion Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry (DCLI) June 1944 War Diary covers the units arrival and fighting in Normandy including the destruction of 6 Panthers at Cheux

National Archive Reference: WO 171/1280

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Page 1 of 11
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
CROWHURST 1 1400 The Navies??? Boxing competition took place on the
cricket pitch. 22 bouts were arranged and
fighting was of high standard. At the
end of the 16th bout the Commanding
Officer decided to postpone remaining events
owing to rain
1800 A film "No time for love" was shown in the
N.A.A.F.I tent.
1415 The training film "Sex Hygien" was shown in
the NAAFI and in turn was attended by
the whole af the Bn
1515 A foot ball match between "HQ" and B Coys took
place. B Coy were the winner by 5 goals to 3.
1730 The boxing competition was continued and H.Q. Coy
team were the winners. The Commanding officer
Page 2 of 11
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
CROWHURST 2 presented the prizes and congratulated all
boxers an a very high standard of fighting.
3 1400 A Cricket match between the Offrs and Sgts took
place the offrs were the winners by 218 runs to 48
The Bde Comd granted permission for
bounds to be extended to a radius of
25 miles and all ranks to be allowed
out until 2359 hrs, a concession which
was greatly appreciated.
4 "D" Coy defeated "C" Coy by one wicket
in an inter coy any cricket match
5 This day marked the commencement of
an Inter - Sec Rifle Competition held on
the 30 yds Range near Crowhurst.
Page 3 of 11
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
7 During the morning the Div Comd gave a talk
to all Officers and Warrant officers on the 'Invasion'
of the continent and many interesting points were
brought to light
In the afternoon the 2 i/c Major R W James lectured
to HQ and S Coy, on procedure before and after
going across!
8 1415 The Cond Officer gave a talk to the BN on
the part that the BN will play in the Invasion
1450 Another Boxing competition was held which will
go on for two nights
Page 4 of 11
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
Crowhurst 10 9-30 The Brigade Comander gave a talk to the whole
Bn in the NAAFI tent he spoke for about 40mins
the theme being "as one infantry man to another"
and said he did not intend to flatter the Bn
but to give a staaight talk; this he did
During the afternoon a cricket match took
place on the Bn sports field between a team from
the 1st Worc Regt and ourselves. The Worc Regt
batted first and were all out for 82, they won
the match however as our team were all out
for 80. They had been entertained both for
lunch and tea at the Officers mess.
Page 5 of 11
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
CROWHURST 11 930 A drumhead Church Service was held in the NAAFI tent
the address being given by the Padre.
12 1100 the Bn advance party received instructions to prepare to move
off and the whole Bn had to remain in camp area also
at short notice to move the advance party actually left
at 1600 hrs.
In spite of the ban on going out the Bn
on the whole spent an interesting day, a cricket match
having played between S and HQ Coys the result was
HQ 83 runs : S Coy 29 runs all out.
After the invasion various messages were heardAppendix C.
to Units liable to enter the battle including one
from General Sir B L Montgomery C in C 21st Army
Group
Page 6 of 11
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
CROWHURST 13 1500 An inter BN Boxing Competition was held between the
Bn and 5th DORSET Regt which ended with a win for
the D.C.L.l by 6 fights to 5.
1700 An ENSA show was given in the N.A.A.F.I. tent
which was called the "Gay Wayfarers"
14 The Bn at last received its orders to move to a
marshalling area and all transport left CROWHURST at
0030 has 15 June and went to Purfleet Camp via
London, where the troops received a great welcome, the
star on the vehicles showing they were troops for the
Allied Expeditionary Force.
NO FIXED ADDRESS 15 1350 The marching personell left Crowhurst at 1350 hrs and
entrained at Crowhurst Station at 1500 They arrived at
Glynde at 1635 hrs which was the marshalling area
and remained there until Monday 19th June.
Page 7 of 11
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
" 17 0830 The vehicles left Purfleet Camp to load on to a ship and
the riding personell made to the docks in motor busses
and embarked at 1830. The ship which was the U.S
William Jones set sail at about 2300 hrs
At Sea. 18 the ship did not leave English water immediately but lay
off Southend waiting for the Convoy to form up.
" " 19 Set sail at 2000 hrs. Sea choppy
" " 20 Hugged the coast until we reached the Isle of Wight
which could be seen quite plainly and which brought
memories to many of the Bn who had been stationed
there. When we headed across the Channel the sea became
quite rough and the sea remained so in spite of the
glorious sunshine. The sea actually held up landing
operations for about two days, the first boat load
Page 8 of 11
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
left the ship just before nightfall.
At Sea 24 Unloading continued all day and by evening all vehicles
were safely ashore, and after wards they
made their way to the Bn Conc area at Manvieux.
MANVIEUX 25 1200 hrs Marching personell left present location for a positions
nearer the battle line and the vehicles left at 1500 hrs
At 1730 Bn HQ was entablished at RACQUEVILLE.
2400 hrs The CO. gave a talk to the Bn on the forthcoming
operation in which they were to take part.
RACQUEVILLE 26 1200 hrs
The Bn was given order to be at 30 mins notice to
move to relieve a unit in the line. The weather was
exceptionally bad and the Bn was not actually
called for until late at night and they moved
off at 0130 hrs 27th June. The bulk of the Bn went
by the quick lift system though the cycle coy
Page 9 of 11
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
had to leave their cycles behind and march because
of the state of the road, and it was dawn when the
Bn relieved the 9th Cameronians in the area of the
village CHEUX.
CHEUX 27 Immediately on arrival the Bn was in the midst of
a counter attack by tanks. During the
enemy engagement the Bn had the misfortune to lose its
Commanding officer 34773 Lt Col J W Atherton TD
who was killed in action whilst handing amunitionSee Appx 'D' for report sent to press
to the anti tank gunners. During the action that
day our casualties were as follows:-
34773 Lt Col J.W. Atherton TD, 88173 Capt PEG Coode
and 13 ORs killed
288831 Lt K.W Gilbert, Lt 251856 Lt CG. Hopkins
and 23 ORs wounded and I OR missing
Page 10 of 11
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
CHEUX 27 - The counter attack was beaten off and the enemy
lost 6 "Panther" tanks. Major RW James 2 i/c
assumed command of the Bn and was promoted
Lt Col in the field.
CHEUX 28 There was no major action today but the area wasPatrol Reports Appendix B.
subjected to shell and mortar fine which caused
slight casualties ie 1 OR killed and 9 ORs wounded.
There were several snipers in the area and some
were captured
CHEUX 29 We remained in the same area today and there
was some activity on the part of enemy tanks. The
Bn was relieved by a Bn of 130 Bde but during
the hand over news came through that a large
number of tanks were approaching us. The two
Bns therefore remained in the position making
Page 11 of 11
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
double strength but the tanks were held before
they reached our area by arty fire and a
number was destroyed. Our casualties were again
light 2 ORs being killed and 1 OR suffered from
shellshock.
CHEUX 30 0130 The Bn left CHEUX and marched to COLLEVILLE
where they had been given a sector to hold against
any counter attack and which was to be a base
for armoured activity together with several other
localities to be similarly held by other units.
Bn HQ was established in the village itself and
was to remain there for several days. Our
casualties today were 1 Offr 124200 Capt JBB Aimers
killed, 3 ORs wounded and 3 ORs were treated for
shellshock and 7 for exhaustion