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    War Diary: 6th Battalion Durham Light Infantry

    Month and year: July 1944

    The July 1944, war diary for the 6th Durham Light Infantry follows the fighting from just south of Tilly sur Seulles to Sermentot

    National Archive Reference: WO 171/1290

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    Page 1 of 13
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    Ref: Map FRANCE 1/50,000 Sht 7F/1 CAEN1Quite day on the front. "A" Company which had just been reformed under
    Captain R.J.Bennet took up positions on the Battalion right flank, area
    Captain (Q.M.)J.W.Runcimen left the Battalion for 205 Corps Reception Camp.
    2Commanding Officer informed that the Battalion would be relieved by 8/DLI
    during night 2/3 July.
    p.m.Second in Command Companies receed 8th Battalion area and arranged guides.
    1700Relief commenced. Anti-tank gun crews pulled out by 1800 hrs. 8th
    Battalion took over 6-pounder gun, and vica versa.
    2000Carrier sections changed over
    2100Mortars changed over complete
    2330Relief of rifle Companies begun and was completed by 0230 hours without any
    interferences from the enemy. Coys moved back to area vacated by 8/DLI
    and took up positions as follows:
    BnHQ828694 MARCEL
    "A" Coy: 822685 "B" Coy: 826690 "C" Coy: 825685. "D" Coy: 632686
    30330Battalion position in new area
    Battalion took up Counter Attack Role in support of 2nd Hamps or 8/DLI
    1500Commanding Officer to HQ 2 Hamps to recce area for counter attack. Area
    recced - LE PARC DE LA MARE 8157
    1530Party from the Battalion proceeded to the Cinema at CONDE
    4The Policy in the Battalion while in the rear was to rest the men for
    two days and carry out a thorough check of all arms, equipment, clothing
    and necessaries. After this period Companies would start training in own
    Company areas.
    1500Party to Cinema show in CONDES
    Page 2 of 13
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    4Battalion tailor visited each Company in turn to fix up all reinforcements
    with "TT" and Battalion Flashes on battledress
    5Company training commenced. Chief subjects were (1) Weapon training with
    particular attention to PIAT and 2" Mortar, and (2) Fieldcraft and use of
    ground. It has been brought out during operations of the past month
    that these subjects need punching up generally.
    A Tank Hunting Squad was formed in each Company. Best methods of tank
    hunting to be found out by trial and error and to be carried out as a
    Training carried out from 0830 - 1230 and men allowed to rest in
    the afternoon.
    This training period also gave officers a chance to get to know their men.
    All reinforcement Officers had gone straight out to platoons in the Battalion
    area had had no real chance while in the line to get to know their
    The Commanding Officer also stressed the importance of finding men to become
    N.C.Os as the need for good N.C.Os within the Battalion was most urgent.
    Bulldozers at work in the Battalion area - cleared two tank tracks as South
    as road TILLY - LINGEVRES.
    6Battalion ordered to relieve 2nd Dorsets in area SOUTH of LINGEVRES (square
    8067) on 7 July
    1500Commanding Officer and Intelligence Officer contacted 2nd Dorsets and
    arranged relief.
    Rev.C.J.Hawksworth, Church of England Padre, had a serious accident whilst
    riding a motor cycle. He was taken to the 149 Field Ambulance but later
    died of his injuries. His loss within the Battalion was felt most deeply
    by all ranks. He had been with the Battalion since the end of the Sicilian
    Campaign and was popular within the whole Brigade.
    Company training continued during the morning.
    Page 3 of 13
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    714000Company and Specialist Platoon Commanders recced 2nd Dorsets area.
    1700Funeral of Rev C.J.Hawksworth at TT Cemetery
    1800Relief of 2nd Dorsets commenced and was organised on same line as relief
    carried out by 8/DLI. Carriers and Mortars were relieved in daylight.
    2330Rifle Companies started moving at half-hourly intervals and the relief was
    completed by 0200 hours. During the relief "A" Company advance party was
    mortared and had two casualties - one killed.
    Company areas were as follows:-
    "A" Coy - 797667. "B" Coy - 801669. "C" Coy - 797668. "D" Coy - 804674.
    See Sketch "A"
    8The Commanding Officer was not satisfied with the layout of the Battalion
    and the following changes made:
    "D" Company moved forward to area 806672.
    "C" Company moved to PARC DE LA MARE 8167 and took over from
    "B" Company 2nd Hamps
    These changes straightened out the Battalion line - Three companies forward
    and one in reserve.
    Standing Patrols each of one section, established at "BOMB HOUSE" 801667;
    "OP HOUSE" 804667; "TWIN HOUSES" 806667.
    See Sketch "B"
    11304 Prisoners taken "D" Company Standing Patrol at "TWIN HOUSES". They were
    Poles belonging to 4 Company, 276 Fusilier Regiment. These were Division
    Troops of 276 Infantry Division and had been in the line five of six days.
    They were all about twenty years of age; had been enlisted in Poland ten
    months before, had been stationed in BAYEUX on the Franco-Spanish frontier.
    Their journey to the Division front had been interrupted by R.A.F.Bombing
    and straffing and they had been in the area of VILLERS BOCAGE during the big
    R.A.F. raid on the 29th June. The last 100 kilometers of their journey had
    been made mostly by night and on foot.
    Page 4 of 13
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    8 (cont)Information supplied confirmed that CHATEAU DE CORDILLION and grounds, 8066,
    had been heavily mined and booby trapped. Companies of 276 Fusilier Battalion
    had been reduced to 50% of normal strength. Tanks of Panzer Lehr Division
    had been drawn out to area ORBOIS 8063 and there were none now on out immediate
    These Prisoners were very talkative and obviously very glad to be out of the
    9"D" Company moved forward and occupied "OP HOUSE" 804667.
    "A" Company moved along line of track to EAST and occupied "BOMB HOUSE"
    "A" Company, the right forward company, area mortared heavily during the
    morning but caused no casualties. Mortared again during the evening and
    one Corporal was wounded.
    After occupying "BOMB HOUSE" left hand section of "A" Company went off to
    contact forward platoon of "D" Company in area of "OP HOUSE">. Gap between
    farm buildings at "OP HOUSE" was covered by a sniper in a hedgerow 100 to
    200 yards away to SOUTH. One man of "A" Company section was hit as he
    was crossing the gap and was taken into the house just before last light
    and one man was hit and killed as he crossed this gap to bring out the
    wounded men. The movement of stretcher bearers to the house had been covered
    by fire from "A" Company and the whole of the hedgerow had been engaged.
    The enemy was thought to be very thin on the ground in the hedges in front
    of both "A" and "D" Companies, but the few enemy left has succeeded in
    making a great nuisance of themselves. The enemy must be given credit for
    his determination in holding a line thinly with snipers and machine gun posts
    and holding up the advance of a whole battalion with very few men.
    Page 5 of 13
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    9 (cont)Enemy line at the time appeared to run about 100 to 200 yards on front of
    F.D.Ls. of ourselves and 8th Battalion on right.
    10Brigade Commander ordered policy of deeper probing, fighting patrols and
    listening posts. Task was to locate enemy in woods SOUTH of CHATEAU DE
    110300Patrol from "A" Company attacked line of hedges in front of Company positions
    called 'OAK'. This was to establish a base for deeper probing later in the
    day. Enemy still on 'OAK' and our patrol attacked with hand grenades.
    Patrol returned fire with Stens and 36 Grenades but had to withdraw.
    Lieutenant McKelvis and three other ranks wounded.
    0700Mortar shoot for one house in support of 231 Brigade attacking to HOTTOT
    0730Two fighting patrol sent out to cause diversion. Had no sooner left our
    lines then they were shot up by the enemy in the hedge. Lieutenant Gardner
    of "A" Company had got almost as far as OAK when he was killed by machine
    gun fire.
    Enemy retaliated by putting down heavy mortar and artillery fire on forward
    company areas. Casualties were quite heavy and no success at all had been
    Information from 8/DLI on right that G.A.F. Units were no in the line as
    12Recce and Standing Patrols out during the morning.
    1600Commanding Officer to Brigade 'O' Group. Plan to attack enemy on "OAK"
    with Crocodiles and two companies. 8/DLI on right doing same.
    1900Company Commanders conference at Battalion Headquarters to arrange relief of
    "B" and "D" Companies, who would carry out attack. "A" and "C" Companies
    to extend left and right respectively across front and whole of Carrier
    Platoon into the line to protect the gaps. "B" and "D" Companies to move
    out of line to area in rear to rehearse attack with crocodiles.
    Page 6 of 13
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    12 (cont)2200"B" Company passed Battalion Control Point and moved into an area near LES
    LE GALLOIS Cross Roads 814684.
    2300Message from Brigade Commander to stop move as plan for attack had been
    cancelled. "B" Company to stay in reserve. "D" Company to stay in line.
    131500Representatives of "A" Squadron, 61 Recce Regt to Battalion Headquarters to
    arrange for relief of Battalion on the 14th.
    Policy of harassing enemy as much as possible by fire was carried out and
    enemy was engaged by 2" Mortar and PIAT fired high angle as well as with
    small arms. This policy was adopted in preference to sending out fighting
    patrols, which had had no success in this close country and casualties on fighting
    patrols had been heavy.
    1930Company Commanders Conference at Battalion Headquarters. Orders for relief
    of Battalion by "A" Squadron, 61st Recce Regt.
    140900The divisional Commander, Major General D.A.H.Graham, C.B.E, D.S.O., M.C.,
    visited the Battalion area.
    "C" Company relieved by 1430 hours. "B" Company already out.
    Carriers and Anti-tank Platoons out by 1800 hours.
    "A" Company relief commenced at 2300 hours and completed by 0100 hours.
    Battalion disposition now:-
    Battalion HQ: 814688. "A" Company: 811686. "B" Company: 814684.
    "C" Company: 816686. "D" Company: 804669.
    "D" Company left in line with 61st Recce Regt.
    151000Commanding Officer carried out a recce of area for Battalion role, of counter
    attack; Task "A" - Height 7867. Task "B" - High ground 8267.
    Battalion now in reserve. P.R.I. issued company libraries and sports kit.
    Battalion had more than its fair allotment of cinema seats in the afternoon
    and evening.
    Page 7 of 13
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    151500Brigade 'O' Group. Battalion to move back into same area we left on 14th
    with some adjustments. 61st Recce Regt to go on Division right flank to
    release U.S.Forces.
    "A" Company back to old area. "B" Company took over from "D" Company in
    area "OP" HOUSE. Carrier Platoon took over "C" Company area PARC DE LA MARE.
    "D" Company into rest area at 814687. "C" Company with two anti-tank guns
    to come under command 8/DLI and to occupy positions in area LONGRAYE 7966.
    161000Commanding Officer and Officer Commanding "C" Company recced area on right
    of 8/DLI front.
    The following immediate awards were announced:-
    Major G.L.Wood MC & Bar - Second in Command - D.S.O.
    Captain I.A.Daw CarriersM.C.
    Captain T.M.Kirk2 i/c "C" CompanyM.C.
    Captain D.Rome2 i/c "B" CompanyM.C.
    Major R.G.Arkinson M.C.O.C. "B" Company BAR TO M.C.
    C.S.M. Howson "D" CompanyD.C.M.
    Sgt.Montgomery Stretcher BearersM.M.
    Sgt.Botterman "A" CompanyM.M.
    L/Cpl. Wear SignalsM.M.
    Sgt. Fradley"B" CompanyM.M.

    Relief of "A" Squadron, 61st Recce Regt carried out as planned and completed
    by 2330 hours.
    Captain J.C.Browne, Officer Commanding "D" Company, appointed Acting Major
    with effect from 16th June 1944.
    Page 8 of 13
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    171100"C" Company in position on 8/DLI right.
    Battalion dispositions now:-
    BnHQ: 803679. "A" Coy - 799667. "B" Coy - 804669. "C" Coy - 788668.
    "D" Coy - in reserve 814687.
    1700General B.L.Montgomery, K.C.B., D.S.O., Commander in Chief, 21st Army Group,
    carried out an investiture at Divisional Headquarters. This investiture
    was attended by Major G.L.Wood and Major R.G.Atkinson, Captain Daw, Sgt
    Montgomery, Sgt Fradley and L/Cpl Wear. The other four men who had received
    decorations had been wounded in action and evacuated.
    Sniper action finished one weeks training under Captain Evans at "A" Echelon
    and came under control of the Second in Command at Battalion Headquarters,
    to be allotted to Companies as required. The value of the sniper section was
    fully realised in the operations of the past month and after losing six of
    the original section, the section was reformed at the earliest opportunity.
    First class sniper suits were made with denums and scrim and face veils.
    180800Intercept message gave information that Prisoner captured by 231 Brigade
    said enemy had withdrawn from the Division front.
    0915"A" and "B" Companies started to move forward, section by section, and by
    1200 hours had reached line of track running EAST and WEST across edges of
    CHATEAU DE CORDILLION. This was an advance of 400 yards and carried out
    without opposition.
    Diggings across the Battalion front indicated that the sector opposite the
    Battalion had been held most likely by a company. Large quality of
    ammunition and hand grenades left behind.
    Sapper Platoon cleared roads and tracks of mines and obstacles, but found
    no booby traps in hedges.
    2000Recce Patrol from "B" Company reported having been fired on from three
    different areas.
    Page 9 of 13
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    18 (cont)Track on WEST side of Chateau made unusable by a sniper located in a position
    to fire directly up the track. "B" Company had casualties along this tracks:
    1 Sgt and 1 Pte Killed and 1 Sgt wounded.
    8/DLI on right conformed with our move and joined up with "A" Company on
    9/DLI on left not so far forward. "B" Company sent out a standing patrol to
    811659 to secure left flank. Patrol fired on several times from left.
    2200Machine gun positions located by "B" Company patrol and engage by 2" mortar
    19Recce Patrols during the night reached main HOTTOT Road and reported having met no enemy.
    1000Casualties in "B" Company area from enemy "S" Mines.
    Advance on both flanks continued and by 1700 hours 8/DLI on right and 9/DLI
    on the left had occupied positions well SOUTH of main HOTTOT road.
    Battalion into Brigade Reserve.
    "C" Company left command of 8/DLI and rejoined Battalion. Took up positions
    in area 806667.
    20Lieutenant (Quartermaster) T.J.F.Jones (General List) joined the Battalion.
    21History of Battalion up to the end of June sent off to Brigade for inclusion
    in Division History.
    221400Commanding Officer to Brigade 'O' Group. Readjustment of Line - 231 Brigade
    coming out: "C" Company to move into area 826657 Carrier Platoon to LA
    MARMONNIER 825665 on left of 9/DLI and under command of 9/DLI.
    1900Carriers occupied new positions. They had great difficulty in moving across
    country as heavy rain in last few days had made ground very muddy.
    "C" Company moved from area CHATEAU DE CORDILION at 2300 hours and were in
    position by 0200 hours.
    Page 10 of 13
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    22 (Cont)1800Demonstration by "D" Company of Lifebouy Portable Flamethrower was attended
    by the G.C.C., Brigade Commander and representatives of other Battalions.
    Forward platoon held up by enemy post in next hedgerow 150 yards away.
    Two sections gave covering fire and laid smoke screen with 2" mortar. One
    assault section made right flanking movement to within ten yards of enemy
    post, threw phosphorous bombs and squirted hedge with flamethrower.
    During the demonstration flamethrower worked perfectly, but had been most
    unreliable during practice. Immediate after the demonstration during
    question period flamethrower would not work. This is a devastating piece
    of equipment but unreliable and its weight and bulkiness makes an approach
    231100Church of England Parade at Battalion Headquarters
    1000Roman Catholic Parade at Regimental Aid Post
    1130"D" Company moved from reserve positions to take over area near CHATEAU
    vacated by "C" Company.
    Battalion dispositions now:-
    BnHQ - 807672. "A" Coy - 860663. "B" Coy - 807662. "C" Coy - 828655
    "D" Coy - 864668. Carriers - 625665. "A" Echelon - 814692.
    "B" Echelon - 822705.
    One platoon of "A" Company was withdrawn from the line to an area in reserve
    for a period of training, supervision by the Second in Command, Training
    consisted only of Fieldcraft, Weapon training and platoon and section
    241000Brigade Commander visited "A", "B" and "D" Companies.
    1500"A" Company platoon in training visited 450 Battery, 74th Field Regiment,
    R.A., and were shewn over the guns and met the men who had supported the
    Battalion so well in the past operations.
    Training also being carried out in Company areas.
    All enemy equipment, arms and ammunition from Battalion front gathered into
    one central dump.
    Page 11 of 13
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    24 (Cont)Commanding Officer ordered to take over from 9/DLI on the 25th july
    250900Company Commanders recced 9/DLI area.
    2300Relief commenced and complete by 0300 hours.
    Battalion disposition now:-
    BnHQ:- 815658. "A" Coy - 823656. "B" Coy - 815655
    "C" Coy - 827657. "D" Coy - 824653.
    "C" company 9/DLI came under command 6/DLI and located at 815650
    "D" Company established a platoon at Sand Pit 824646 which had been occupied
    only by a standing patrol of 9/DLI.
    260800Heavy enemy shelling of area to right of Battalion
    1100Brigade Commander visited forward companies . Plan to push forward platoons
    to hold a Brigade outpost line. 8/DLI already had platoons at 811642 and
    815642. 6/DLI had platoon at 817643. One platoon from "C" Coy 9/DLI to
    go forward to sand pit at 825645 to complete outpost line.
    1600Recce patrol from "C" Company, 9/DLI reported houses at 817643 clear of
    Captain J.H.Murphy, R.A.M.C, posted to 48 F.D.S. Captain W.Ferguson posted
    to Battalion as Regimental Medical Officer.
    "C" Company, 9/DLI, pushed forward one platoon and occupied area of sandpit
    27Quite day on the Battalion front.
    Snipers patrolled area NORTH of stream and claimed one kill in orchard at
    "C" Company 9/DLI relieved by "B" Company 9/DLI.
    Page 12 of 13
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    280700"B" Company 9/DLI reported being fired on by rifle grenades from area of
    houses at 819642.
    Observation Posts on Battalion front reported no movement of enemy on ridge
    directly in front. 8/DLI on our right reported same. It appears that
    enemy may have pulled back beyond SERMENTOT, leaving as usual small groups
    of snipers or machine gun posts as rearguard.
    In p.m. sniper patrol returning to "D" Company lines was mortared by small
    mortar from area 826643. This post was engaged by 3" Mortars.
    29"A" Company relieved "B" Company 9/DLI and took over sand pit area 825645.
    1800Commanding Officer at Brigade 'O' Group. Brigade to probe forward to secure
    left flank of attack being made in GAUMENT sector. Limit of advance ridge
    SERMENTOT - BELTOT. Advance to be made by two companies of 8/DLI and 9/DLI
    Battalion to remain in Situ and be prepared to relieve 8/DLI once they had
    secured area SERMENTOT 8162.
    300800Heavy Bombers passed over Battalion Headquarters to bomb objective and to
    support attack being made on right GAUMONT area.
    1000"A" Company moved forward platoon across track and was fire upon by a
    machine gun from farmhouse at 819643. Rifle grenades also fired into area
    of sand pit. "A" Company engaged house by fire "2" mortars, E.Y. rifles
    and PIATS at intervals during the day. By 1800 hours the enemy was driven
    out of this house and ot was occupied by a section of "A" Company's forward
    platoon. During this small action "A" Company had three men wounded.
    1800Mobile Light A/A Gun blown up on Tellermine in field at 814658, the next
    field to Battalion Headquarters.
    31Sapper Platoon picked up 65 Tellermines in Field at 814658
    "A" Company platoons moved forward to area of sandpits.
    Page 13 of 13
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    31 (Cont)"D" Company moved two platoons forward to close gap between the Battalion and
    2/5 Lane Fusiliers on left.
    "B" Company moved platoons forward to occupy "A" Company's positions.
    "C" Company now squeezed out of front by advance of "D" Company and 2/5
    Lanc Fusiliers.

    Total Casualties incurred by the Battalion from "D" Day 31st July 1944:-

    Killed 1.
    Missing 1.
    Wounded 22. (Of whom 3 later died from wounds)

    Killed 77.
    Missing 19.
    Wounded 306 (Of whom 10 later died from wounds)

    In the Field
    11 Aug 1944

    A.E. Green Lieut-Colonel
    Commanding 6th Bn The Durham Light Infantry

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