War Diary: 53rd Reconnaissance Regiment

Month and year: August 1944

Covers their action in France from EVRECY starting with their defensive position in EVRECY, taking prisoners and holding bridges.

National Archive Reference: WO 171/565

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Page 1 of 7
PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
EVRECY LE BON REPOS.1944 1 Aug.Regiment still holding a defensive position NORTH of EVRECY (9259). A very
spirited fighting patrol was carried out by Lt. PJ Nolan and 12 ORs "A" Sqn
to X-rds at LE BON REPOS. It was believed that the enemy had withdrawn.
The patrol was unable to make contact until Lt.Nolan deliberately showed
himself and drew fire.
2 Aug.Fighting patrol by Lt. KCY Wilson and 12 ORs of "C" Sqn made the contact with
enemy. The patrol commander was wounded and Tpr Wynne missing from this patrol. Intermittent mortar fire on our positions.
Cas : Wounded - Lt.BR Grey-Jones, Lt KCY Wilson. Missing - Tpr Wynne AW.
3 Aug.Mortar fire decreased, Enemy probably starting to withdraw. Successful
recce patrol at night by Sgt. Robinson (A Sqn) showed that enemy were still there.
4 Aug.During the morning reports were received that the
Enemy was withdrawing from the line of R. GUIGNE. Sgt Roach WC of "A" Sqn
took an Armd. Car Patrol down to the X-rds and was not fired on.
A general advance of the Division preceded by the Recce Regt - a full
12 hours before the Germans expected it. "A" and "C" Sqns were forward,
the latter advancing about 4-5 miles during the day. "A" Sqn reached the
bridge over the R. ORNE at PONT DE COUDRAY (9858) - an advance of 5-6 miles.
About 12 P of W. were taken during the day.
Cas :- Wounded - 5 ORS.
PONT de COUDRAY.5 Aug.At first light "A" Sqn moved forward again to the bridge at PONT de COUDRAY.
"C" Sqn held the bridges over the R.AJON covering the flank of 59 Div. who
advanced past them during the day. "B" Sqn pushing SOUTH met opposition
and suffered casualties from mines. Major H.J d'AVIGDOR-GOLDSMID carried
out a personal recce of the LE BAS bridge NORTH of THURY HARCOURT and secured valuable information at great personal risk.
Cas :- wounded 8 ORS. During night 59 Div. came forward to the line
of the R.ORNE, SOUTH of us.
Page 2 of 7
PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
Month PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
LE HOMME6-11 Aug.Regiment concentrated in area LE HOMME 2 miles SOUTH of EVRECY 9259.
Maintenance and rest.
ST. LAURENT de CONDEL.12 Aug.Moved to area 3 miles NORTH of THURY HARCOURT and crossed R. ORNE in the
evening. With "D" Sqn. ROYALS under command, Regt. went into harbour
at ST. LAURENT de CONDEL 9852.
13 Aug.An attempt was made by 53 (II) DIV. to achieve a break through to FALAISE
in order to meet the U.S. Army advance from the SOUTH. Strong and
determined pockets of enemy resistance were encountered SOUTH of BOIS HALBUT
(0196) consisting of Infantry, A/Tk Guns and isolated tanks. Mines made
progress extremely difficult. Lieut. JE Reynolds had an excellent shoot
at the enemy infantry claiming 12 killed. P of W taken during the day.
In the evening the infantry came forward to take over, During the day we
had advanced 2 1/2-3 miles
Cas :- Killed - Lt. JA Watson, Tpr Bebbington R and Tpr Harrison E.
Wounded - 21 ORs.
14 Aug.Probing forward along the whole Div. front SOUTH of BOIS HALBUT stiff
opposition was encountered and many vehicles were destroyed by mines and
A/Tk guns. While we were held up infantry of 71 Bde came forward and
we were able to shoot forward in several cases, and indicate lines of
advance. Lieut EN Crewe was killed leading a patrol of his Troop to find
a crossing over a stream. His operator Tpr Mercer showed great bravery
in maintaining his guns in action even though his vehicle was mined and
his Officer was killed. He was taken prisoner but later escaped and
returned to his Squadron bringing with him two wounded men.
Cas :- Lieut TB Wood, Lieut EN Crewe, Sgt Jones CH, Sgt Pritchard E (died of
wounds),Cpl Armour BH (died of wounds),Cpl Godfrey RJ. Wounded - 16 ORS.
Page 3 of 7
PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
15 Aug.The plan was for 53 Divo with under command 4 Armd Bde to move forward to
block the roads leading into FALAISE from SOUTH and SOUTH-WEST. The
Regiment less "B" Sqn was directed along the line MARTINVILLE (0243) - LEPPARD (0638)
NORRON L'ABBAYE (1036) advanced some three miles during the day to the area
BONOIEUL (0239). Casualties were caused by isolated A/Tk guns. "B" Sgn.
maintained contact with 59 Div. and pushed out protective patrols on the
Div. right flank,
Cas :- Killed - Rev (Capt) H.Smith (who was killed by a mine while recovering
the bodies of two Officers),Sgt Grant A, L/C Ebberley J, Tpr Hughes, Tpr
Walters G, Cpl Eyre L Wounded - Lt.JRM Thirkell, Lt.J.
Holmboe-Eriksen. and 17 ORS.
NORRON L' ABBAYE.16 Aug.A further advance was made to the area NORRON L'ABBAYE. Lieut IM Weinstock,
himself wounded, showing courage in attempting to rescue while under heavy the
driver of an. H.A.C.
Cas :- Tpr Halliwell R. Wounded :- Lieut IM Weinstock, Lt. A.A. Pounder and 6 ORS.
The casualties in vehicles and personnel of the last four days had been
fairly severe as must invariably happen in the close recce role.
17 Aug.Protective patrols on Div. right flank by night and day.
BONOIEL.RHQ at BONOIEL.
Cas : 1 OR wounded.
18 Aug.Regt advanced at first light to main road FALAISE-ARGENTAN with the object
of closing the pocket and contacting the U.S. forces advancing from SOUTH.
Later in the morning we were relieved of this responsibility and came under
command of 4 Armd. Bde, who were held up on the main road 3 miles SOUTH of
FALAISE. "C" Sqn. attempted to get round the enemy to the EAST of the road
and met opposition from infantry and 88 mm guns,
Page 4 of 7
PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
18 Aug.Cas. : Killed - Sgt Rich S. L/C Jones GCW, Sgt Cox W, Tpr Mason F,
Tpr Palmer T. L/C Every SP.
Wounded - 9 ORS.
19 Aug.Harassing patrols were pushed out to a depth of 3-4 miles, EAST and WEST
of the FALAISE-ARGENTAN road. Isolated pockets of resistance were
encountered,
Cas : Wounded - 2 ORS.
Lieuts. Deans, Watkins, Towner and Masters posted to this Regt.
20 Aug.Regt. moved out at first light to mop up an area of approx. 50 square miles
within the triangle FALAISE-TRUN-ARGENTAN. Patrols of all Sqns advanced
from Village to Village in a vigorous manner and inflicted many casualties
on the enemy. At the end of the day over 1,000 prisoners had been captured.
Some Casualties were suffered from isolated A/TK Guns. The Regt. with
340 (S.P.) A/Tk Bty under command held an Anti-Tank screen NORTH-WEST of
TRUN during the night.
Cas :- 3 ORs wounded,
21 Aug.The task allotted to the Regt on 20 Aug was completed during the day. A very
considerable number of enemy were killed or captured in the Villages between
ARGENTAN and TRUN, particularly in the Villages of ST. LAMBERT, BAILLEUL (2725),
and VILLEDIEU les BAILLEUL. Particularly spirited clearing of the
Villages was carried out by No. 7 Troop of "B" Sqn commanded by Lieut JA
Chapelhow Approx, 3,500 prisoners were taken during the day and the
problem of disposing of them became so great that a considerable number had
to be handed over to the Canadian Army on our left. A German Military
Hospital was overrun, and it was found to contain three ORs of this Regt.
who had been wounded three days previously, one of whom had been presumed killed.
Page 5 of 7
PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
21 Aug. (contd),Towards evening so many enemy vere being encountered that higher authority
deemed it necessary to send forward the 4th Armoured Bde to relieve the Regt.
No relief was, in fact, necessary, since by last light the Regt. had
completely cleared of all enemy the area allotted to it.
Cas.: 1 OR wounded,
22 Aug.A well needed day for maintenance and rest. The battle had now moved well
to the EAST.
23 Aug.No change. 70 ORs arrived from 34 R.H.U.
24 Aug.No change.
BOCQUENCE.25 Aug.The Regt. moved forward to BOCQUENCE (6652) being ordered to protect the
bridge site over the river while Div. R.Es made a new bridge. By this time
we were out of touch with the situation in front - the speed of our
intelligence having lagged far behind the speed of our advanoe. The bridge
was in fact intact and clear of enemy. The Regt. harboured EAST of the
river and patrols were immediately sent out to try and obtain information about
the enemy. A patrol of "B" Sqn. found itself being supported by a convoy
of RASC lorries. Only when patrols passed through an Army Maintenance Area
some miles to our EAST that we realised that the enemy was still a long way
away, although we had advanced 50 miles during the day.
26 Aug.The Regt. moved forward to a concentration area (8356) NORTH OF LAIGLE.
27 Aug.Unchanged, SCF 53 (v) Div. held a Memorial Service for the Padre. The day
was made interesting by a report of 40 SS hiding in a wood some 3-4 miles
away. "A" Sqn went out and after a fruitless search of many miles returned
to camp.
Page 6 of 7
PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
28 Aug.Location unchanged. "B" Sqn were ordered out on receipt of information
that some enemy were hiding nearby. After being sent to all points of
the compass by excited members of the 'F.F.I.' they returned with 3 Russian
prisoners.
29 Aug.The Regt. moved at 1200 hrs. to concentration area NORTH-WEST of EVREUX.
30 Aug.At 0400hrs the Regt with 340(S.P.) A/Tk Bty under its command moved out
across the River SEINE - the first vehicle crossing at 0600 hrs. Our task
was to pass through 15 (S) Div. to mop up an area measuring some 20 miles
by 8 miles NORTH of the River, and to the LEFT of the Div. main axis.
Small pockets of enemy resistance were encountered and patrols were
frequently held up by mines and tree obstacles. By evening the Regt.
had advanced some eight miles, end the infantry were moving up to take over.
Harboured at night near LYONS la FORET.
Cas :Killed - Cpl Ware, Tpr Upton, Tpr Drew, Tpr Dick. Wounded - 7 ORS. ??U.K.C.Y. Wilson??
31 AUG.The Regt. was ordered under command of 7th Armd, Div. for the advance to the
River SOMME. Patrols were carried out during the day to clear the close
country west of the main Corps Axis.
NOMINAL ROLL OF OFFICERS SERVING.
Lt. Col. L. Williams.
Major J. Bielski.
Major ASD Graesser.
Major JH Piesse.
Major Sir HJ at Avigdon-Goldsmid, Bt.
Major RT Williams.
Capt. JH Pitts. Capt.
Capt. DS Craigen.
Capt RFC Burton.
Capt JHP Upton.
Capt Capt. J. Cooper (QM)
Capt RH Price.
Capt WF Goodyear.
Capt AP Blackie.
Capt JE Reynolds
Capt RW Clarke (MO)
Captain WJ Mallender (REME)
Page 7 of 7
PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
NOMINAL ROLL OF OFFICERS SERVING (continued),
Lieut GF Keep.
Lieut KCY Wilson.
Lieut CR Flogdell.
Lieut J Woolston.
Lieut P Utley.
Lieut LS Watkins.
Lieut RA Talbot.
Lieut JA Chapelhow
Lieut HL McCarthy.
Lieut TE Miller.
Lieut NG Mathewson.
Lieut JC Deans.
Lieut JD Richards.
Lieut PJ Nolan.
2/Lieut CP Boraston.
Lieut C Riley.
Lieut ES Stuart.
Lieut FI Towner.
Lieut BR Grey-Jones.
Lieut D Addison.
Lieut FE Markwell.
Lieut K McDonell
Lieut FL Long.
Lieut F Masters.
L Williams Lt.Colonel.
Commanding, 53rd Reconnaissance Regiment.