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War Diary: 6th Battalion Durham Light Infantry

Month and year: June 1944

The June 1944, war diary for the 6th Durham Light Infantry beings in England at Camp C.17 and follows the unit landing on the beaches of Normandy and fighting 13 miles inland to Juvigny

National Archive Reference: WO 171/1290

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Page 1 of 14
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
Nightingale Wood, Romsey, Hants. (Camp c.17) 1 Briefing continued during 1st and 2nd and some serials moved out from Camp C.17 to marshalling areas.
3 0900 Bn Church Parade, (C of E) in NAAFI Tent.
Southampton Water 1330 Main body of Bn left Camp C.17 in Troop Carrying Vehicles and embarked in
Landing Craft Infantry in SOUTHAMPTON WATER. The Prime Minister and Field
Marchall Smuts were on the Pier during the embarkation. The Prime Minister
shook hands with the Commanding Officer and wished "God Speed" to the
Battalion. Landing Craft anchored for rest of day in SOUTHAMPTON WATER.
4 Information was received during the day that "D" day had been put back for
24 hours. During the day, two craft loads in the morning and two in the
afternoon, visited the Transit Camp set up by Movement Control in the sheds
on the quayside. Men had a chance to have a good wash and were served with
a hot meal. Camp provided writing facilities, entertainments, NAAFI and
organised games and gave all ranks a chance to stretch their legs after the
rather cramped conditions aboard landing craft.
5 Craft still in Southampton Water. Transit camp visited again during the morning
and afternoon. The Commanding Officer (Lieut.Colonel A.E.Green) was taken
ill with Malaria and had to leave the Landing Craft for hospital. Major
G.L. Wood (second-in-command) then took over command of the Battalion.
The Landing Craft sailed during the night 5/6 June.
Ref Map 1/50,000
Sheet 7 F/1 - Caen
6 0900 In sight of the French Coast
1100 Battalion landed on the beaches. Sea was rough and most men of the Battalion
were feeling ill effects of long sea journey. The waves made landing
difficult and some serials were waist high in water as they went ashore.
Page 2 of 14
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
6 1300 Battalion Assembly complete in Assembly Area near VER SER MER 9085
1500 Battalion left assembly area two hours late to move to final objective.
Advance of Mobile Column was slow and some opposition was encountered en
route. Battalion reached its first objective, ESQUAY SUR SEULLES 8479
at 2030 hours and was ordered to stop. First Prisoners taken during the
advance were Russians belonging to 642 Russian Battalion. They were of
very poor fighting quality and quite willing to surrender.

Battalion dug in and patrolled immediate front.
7 0500 Advance continued to second objective - area CONDE SUR SEULLES 8274.
0730 Mobile Column reached final objective and was straffed by our Thumberbolts:
two Carriers lost
0900 Main body on final objective and to positions forecast in Operation Order.
Dug in immediately. Opposition on way down had been slight consisting
chiefly of snipers. Rear elements of mobile column met convoy of German
vehicles at road junction 815763 and shot up three three-ton trucks without
1100 Joint Post at CONDE 8373 occupied by Captain D.J.Fenner but no forces from
69 Infantry Brigade turned up. Post was counter-attacked by enemy during
the morning and our forces driven out. Captain Fenner and 15 Other Ranks
were wounded. 4/7th Dragoon Guards in support beat off any threat to main
Battalion positions and the post was reoccupied during the evening.

Anti-tank platoon claimed one lorry towing 37mm A/A Gun at crossroads
8 Battalion Headquarters at 828747.

"A" Company, established at cross roads 815740, provided the Battalion's
offensive effort during the morning. Without loss they destroyed one
amphibious car, one three-ton truck and captured a half traced vehicle
loaded with ammunition. All the men in these vehicles belonged to a
new division - 130 PZ LEHR Division which had only recently moved on to
Page 3 of 14
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
our front and it was evident on questioning Prisoners that they had no idea we were occupying the area.

Carriers Patrols were out during the day DOUET 821725
0730 One Platoon of "D" Company reoccupied joint post with two sections Carriers
and one anti-tank gun, under Lieutenant T.M.Kirk.
0930 Armoured Car from DOURY STE MARGEURITE 8574 approached joint post and shot
up two carriers. Small attack by Infantry was beaten off and car destroyed by mortar fire.
1030 Sounds of enemy reforming to attack. Lieutenant Kirk withdrew joint post
and joined "D" Company in CONDE. A section of 18 platoon was cut off during
this withdrawal and did not reach "D" company lines until late afternoon.
Three men of section missing, believed killed.
1145 A mixed column of Motor transport and armoured fighting vehicles was reported
moving North from BUCEELS 8379 along the road leading through the Battalion
1230 A Carrier patrol had been fired on in area DOUET cross roads from ridge
1430 Firing on "A" and "B" Company fronts: from armoured cars and enemy infantry,
and was returned by "A" Company. The enemy appeared to be infiltrating to
right of road to avoid "A" Company's fire. "B" Company held fire for some
time and opened up with Medium Machine Guns.
1600 Small arms battle died down.
1700 Divisional artillery concentrated on BUCEELS, where it was thought main body
of enemy column was.
1720 Tanks reported approaching "A" and "B" Company fronts - engaged by artillery
and mortars.
1830 Forward Observation Officer with "A" and "B" Company pinned down by fire and unable
to observe artillery shoot. Shoot was map shoot conducted from Battalion
Page 4 of 14
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
9 1830 Commanding officer asked for tanks and M.10 Anti-tank guns to thicken up
1920 Tanks engaged by battalion anti-tank guns: one gun in "B" Company area
knocked out. One Officer (Lieutenant D.Dodshon) and three Other Ranks
2000 Enemy tanks still advancing
2010 M.10s moved into "B" Company area 2 Anti-Tank guns from "A" Company and
two from "D" moved into positions behind "B" Company
2015 Enemy tanks engaged and three Mark IVs knocked out.
2100 Position stabilised on Battalion front.

This thrust by the enemy was probably to find out our positions and test
our strength. The enemy found our line and suffered casualties of three
tanks knocked out as against the Battalion loss of one anti-tank gun and crew.

Squadron Tanks and M.10s remained in Battalion position all night.
10 Quite day on the Battalion front.

Joint post reoccupied by Captain Rome and one platoon of "B" Company, section
of Carriers and equal force from 69 Infantry Brigade.
11 Joint Post sent in fourteen Prisoners. They belonged to a Pioneer Battalion
which had been working on coastal defences. They had left their positions
on hearing the invasion and had come SOUTH under one Lieutenant. Mostly men
of 40 - 45 who had no desire to fight.
12 Quite on the Battalion front.
13 Battalion Left area 832742 to move SOUTH with HOTTOT 8265 as final objective.
Leading Companies left main road at PONT DE LA GUILLETTE 8369 and were heavily
engaged with mortars and machine guns from the area of farm buildings at 833690.
Page 5 of 14
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
13 "A" Company suffered very heavy casualties, Tanks called up to try and
deal with snipers and machine guns at 833690, but not effective. "B" Company
made a flanking movement to right and put in a company to attack on farm buildings.
They reached buildings but also suffered heavy casualties and had to withdraw.
It was evident that the enemy had established a strong position by the farm
buildings and among the hedgerows and our efforts at getting him out were
not successful. Artillery and mortar fire on these positions did not have
the desired effect.
2030 Brigade Commander ordered the Battalion to pull out to FOLLIOT 8171.

Casualties "A" Company - Captain L.Attenborough and Lieutenant J.L.Bell

"B" Company - Captain D.Rome, Lieut.R.D.Busson, Lieut.R.D.Scott.

7 Other Ranks Killed. 42 wounded.
2300 Battalion Withdrew through South Wales Borderers and bivouaced night at

The enemy is holding a line from TILLY to WEST. TILLY reported occupied in
some strength. Battalion sector 8369 strongly held. 9/DLI report stiff
opposition on Battalion right at VERRIERES 7169. This is the first serious
opposition we have met but it looks to be formidable.
14 FOLLIOT 817720. Battalion again given objective HOTTOT and village of
VERRIERES and woods to be cleared of enemy.

Battalion advanced supported by bombing and straffing of VERRIERES by the
Air Force and a creeping barrage by Divisional Artillery
1000 Air Force bombing began and lasted for 15 minutes
1015 Battalion left Start Line East and West of track junction 811712. Crossed
open country, supported by tanks, in open formation. "C" and "D" Companies
forward: "B" and "A" in reserve. On reaching open ground at 8169 leading
companies came under heavy machine gun fire from the line of trees running North-
East and South-west along track NORTH of VERRIERES. Companies unable to move
Page 6 of 14
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
14 Artillery and tank support called for and the advance went very slowly.
Casualties again heavy. A ditch running across the front had been turned
into a strong point by the enemy and was very strongly held. Reserve Companies
pushed in to attack and this ditch had been secured by 1600 hours.

Casualties: Killed - 23 Other Ranks

Wounded - Major R.Galloway MC., Major D.E.I.Thomlinson,

Lieut.W.T.A.Davey and 62 Other Ranks.

Missing - 15 Other Ranks

Captain A.H.Sandwith took over command of "D" Company and with "B" Company
pushed in to the Village or VERRIERES. Enemy had made hasty retreat from
ditch and guns and ammunition left behind were used by advanced companies.
More sniping in the village but forward companies pushed on and crossed streams
at 8169.

As country was thick and casualties had been heavy, Major Wood, withdrew all companies to
line of track NORTH of VERRIERES and dug in. "B" Company right of the main road
at 813692: "C" and "A" Companies combined left at 816695: "D" Company forward
at 814692. Battalion headquarters 812708.

Enemy lost in this action: Two half-tracked vehicles with short 75mm close
support guns, one troop carrying half-tracked vehicle in perfect condition,
one 75mm anti-tank gun and one half tracked motorcycle. 14 Prisoners taken
all from PZ LEHR Division. This Division had been in the area six days and
had time to prepare first class positions from TILLY to LINGEVRES.
9/DLI, on right, had secured LINGEVRES.
2300 Patrols sent out SOUTH of VERRIERES reported no enemy movement.

Battalion reorganised on a three-company basis:-

"B" Company - Commander - Major R.G.Atkinson M.C.

"B" Company - Commander - Captain R.Bousfield

"B" Company - Commander - Captain A.H.Sandwith
Page 7 of 14
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
14 Total Battalion casualties to date:

Officers: 10 wounded.

Other Ranks: 30 Killed, 26 Missing, 126 Wounded

Lieut.T.O.M.Cranko and Lieut.M.H.Norman joined the Battalion and were posted
to "B" Company
15 Battalion headquarters 812708
0700 Patrols by Lieut.Horn and Lieut.Brooke reported enemy activity and digging
1600 Fighting Patrols sent out to mop up enemy located in morning recce, but no
enemy contacted.
1800 Brigade Commander ordered deep patrolling. Patrols under Lieut.Kirk and
Lieut.Horn to probe two miles to SOUTH. Similar patrols on both flanks
by 9/DLI and 2/Essex

No fighting during day. Company positions strengthened.

Battlefield was salvaged amd wall equipment was sent back to "B" Echelon.
16 Battalion Headquarters 812708

Patrols during night had located no enemy movement and at 0945 "B" and "C"
Companies moved forward to cross roads at LES LE GALLOIS 8168 and dug in.
An enemy transport column moving along main road TILLY - VERRIERES had been
shot up by the air force and at least 8 Mark V Tanks had been knocked
out in and near VERRIERES.
1130 "B" Company in position at 818683. A section which had been sent forward
on June 14th was found on left of company positions. "B" Company had made
its way forward on June 14th and this section had been out off and under
machine gun fire: four men had been killed and four others were found by
"B" Company after being out in the open for two days.
1500 Chateau at 821697 searched and snipers still in grounds.
Page 8 of 14
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
16 1530 Lieutenant Colonel A.E.Green rejoined the battalion.

It appears that the enemy has withdrawn again to positions further SOUTH
along road JUVIGNY - HOTTOT and had covered his withdrawal with odd sniper
and machine gun posts.
1800 Enemy mortared "B" Company positions - six casualties. Gun and mortar fire
at intervals from HOTTOT Road.

Battalion Headquarters 815687
17 0530 "C" Company reported that an enemy patrol had penetrated into the company
lines and had inflicted one casualty.
0600 1 Prisoner, eighteen years old, gave himself up. He had been in the army
twelve months, had had no leave and had been wounded in the ankle by our
mortar fire on 16 June.
0930 Patrol reported enemy digging in area PARC DE LA MARE 816686; engaged by
1500 Battalion relieved by 9/DLI. Went back to FOLLIOT.

2/Essex making attack on TILLY at 1600 hours. 6/DLI to follow on different
axis with objectives SOUTH of TILLY and astride main road TILLY - JUVIGNY.
1700 Battalion left FULLIOT and advanced across country to MARCEL 829693.

Leading companies met opposition from machine guns and snipers in area
farmhouse 833685, the same area where we had met the enemy on June 14th.
Advance slow but companies pushed on and at 2000 hours were ordered to dig
in where they were. "C" Company had reached cross roads at 833682 and had
come into close contact with the enemy. "C" Company withdrew 200 yards
and took up positions at 832685 on the right of track. "D" Company left of
track at 834684. "B" Company in reserve at 832686. Defence thickened up
with tanks.

Casualties: Major Kirby and Lieut.Cranko wounded.

Captain R.Bousfield and C.S.M.Charlton wounded and believed taken prisoner.
Page 9 of 14
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
17 Fighting had been hard and the Battalion had only got half way to its
objective. An enemy armoured car was contacted and caused fairly heavy
casualties. Enemy mortared positions at night.
18 Battalion headquarters MARCEL 8269
1000 The Commanding Officer at Brigade "O" Group. Ordered to push on to road
running South-west TILLY - HOTTOT, area 8367. Plan included a creeping
barrage 100 yards in five minutes, tanks moving level with infantry and
shooting up all hedges. Machine guns on carriers in role of light tanks.
1430 Battalion attacked after heavy barrage. Effect of this curtain of fire
was terrific and good progress was made by all companies. The enemy was
blasted out of his positions and the whole area was covered by our small
arms fire. Tanks crashed through hedges, kept in line with the infantry
and gave magnificent support Casualties on this advance were very light.
1700 Battalion reached objective, area 8367 and dug in. Tanks and M.10s in
support had knocked out two Mark IV Tanks.

This was by far the most successful attack made by the Battalion during
five days of hard fighting and its effect was reflected in the magnificent
spirits of the men.

Captain A.H.Sandwith was wounded during this attack and Lieut.Bateman took
over command of "D" Company.

70 Reinforcements joined the battalion.

Battalion headquarters: cross roads 832677.
19 Strengthening company positions.

Artillery engaging traffic on main road TILLY - JUVIGNY
1400 2/Essex moved through Battalion area and took up positions astride main
road to SOUTH.

Battalion area shelled and mortared and some casualties caused.

Lieut.J.B.Horn wounded by mortar fire and later died of wounds.
Page 10 of 14
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
19 1900 "C" Company reported enemy approaching company positions from SOUTH, and
opened fire. Opposition consisted of a few isolated machine gun posts
and snipers who fired almost at random into the company area. "C" Company
adopted a counter policy of shooting up hedges with small arms fire, as it
was impossible to pin-point these machine gun positions in thick country.
Enemy withdrew at 2030 hours - had inflicted no casualties.
2300 Lieut.C.A.Brooke, "D" Company, took out patrol of Sappers to mine the cross
roads at 835668 to try and stop enemy transport moving along road JOVIGNY -
HOTTOT. Patrol was shot up from farmhouse at 835669 and was not successful.
Continual rain all day made conditions out in the open difficult and the rum
ration at night was well deserved.
20 All quite during the day. Patrols across the front probing enemy positions.
Lieut.W.D.R.Savory and Lieut.A.R.Harvey joined the battalion are well posted
to "C" and "D" Companies respectively.
21 Quite day with little activity on battalion front.
1500 Fighting patrol led by Lieut.Brooke to get to main road JUVIGNY - HOTTOT
to lay up and shoot up anything passing. Some enemy machine gun positions
located at the cross roads 835665 were shot up before the patrol returned.
Joint Post set up with Devons on out right to cover an awkward gap: it
consisted to a platoon of infantry, one section carriers and one anti-tank

Eight Officers and 125 Other Ranks joined the battalion as reinforcements.
Owing to the shortage of Officers the battalion maintained a three-company
basis but each company had four platoons.

"B" Company relieved "C" Company.
Page 11 of 14
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
22 A quite day but some enemy shelling in area of units on flanks.

During the morning the first batch of men were sent into BAYEUX for baths.

This was a good indication that the line was firmly held.

Some disused enemy positions some 200 yards forward of "B" Companie's positions
were occupied by a platoon of "B" Company in the course of the afternoon.

It was through that the enemy had come up to these positions at night and
shot up forward companies. The surprise we wanted to give the enemy did
not materialise and no enemy come up at night.

All Company positions were extended and strengthened. After a few days rest
the general policy was to harras the enemy as much as possible by day and
by night. This was done by probing patrols and moving up sections and
platoons whenever possible.
23 Whole of battalion area came under intermittent gunfire during the biggest
part of the day and some casualties were caused. Forward companies tried
to spot guns and our own artillery engaged.
1300 Second bathing party to BAYEUX

Battalion positions extended again during the afternoon. A platoon of
"D" Company moved forward to occupy area 835671 without opposition.
24 Quite day but some shelling

Major F.C.Atkinson (Norfolfs) joined the battalion and took over command of
"C" Company.

Recce Patrols at night to main road JUVIGNY - HOTTOT reported enemy still
in area 835657.
25 0600 Mortars support attack by 49th Division on left. Barrage put down on woods
WEST of JUVIGNY. Barrage lasted for one hour and approximately 1,000
bombs were fired.
Page 12 of 14
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
25 0600 "B" and "D" Companies put out fighting patrols to harras enemy and try to
prevent him moving along road to JUVIGNY. Both patrols held up by snipers
and machine guns. Troops of 4/7 Dragoon Guards in support of "B" Company
patrol knocked out one Mark IV Tank without loss. Objective of "B" Company
patrol was to establish a platoon post at cross roads 835655. This was not
carried out but a platoon of "B" Company was established in area 835657.
Similar patrols carried out by 9/DLI on left. No patrol reached its
objective of the main road but some ground was gained and held.
26 Policy of active patrolling across whole front carried on by 6/DLI and 9/DLI
0745 Recce patrol led by Lieut. Bateman reported enemy still in wood 842667.
1200 Brigade reported enemy may be pulling out but patrol in afternoon found
enemy still in area cross roads 835665.

Battalion area shelled at intervals during afternoon and evening.
2300 Sound of transport and tanks moving along road JUVIGNY - HOTTOT, engaged
by artillery and mortars.
27 Active patrolling continued across Brigade front and contact maintained.
Different tactics adopted instead of normal patrols. Small patrols went
out to lie in wait for enemy. Patrol under Lieut Kirk claimed one kill in
area wood 842669.

The undermentioned Officers were appointed Acting Captains with effect from
27 June:

Lieut.R.E.Evans "A" Coy. --- Lieut.J.A.Wedgwood Signal Officer

Lieut.R.G.Bateman "D" Coy. --- Lieut.J.C.Browne "D" Coy.

Lieut.T.M.Kirk "C" Coy. --- Lieut.R.J.Bennett "A" Coy.

Captain J.C.Browne took over command of "D" Company.
Page 13 of 14
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
27 Transport and tanks again heard moving along road JUVIGNY - HOTTOT after
dark - engaged by artillery.

Night patrols reported three tanks in area of cross roads at 835668. One
Mark IV located at 842667 knocked out by artillery fire.

9/DLI reported their patrols had reached JUVIGNY and gone as far south as
845665 without opposition. The enemy is evidently moving his posts backwards
and forwards because areas reported as clear by some patrols have been found
to contain enemy by others.
28 Active patrolling continued.
0645 Recce patrol of "D" Company reported one tank in area 838667.
1030 Fighting patrol "C" Company reported one S.P. in the area orchard 840666.

Patrol had been fired on and returned fire.
1400 Standing Patrols "D" Company in hedges 838668 to watch tank at 838667. Tank
commander could be seen observing our forward positions through binoculars
from top of turret. Slope of ground made it too risky to bring up an
anti-tank gun to deal with this tank. Standing patrol claims to have shot
the commander.
2100 R.A.wireless truck destroyed in battalion headquarters by direct shell hit.

Shellfire been intermittent during the afternoon and evening and average
casualties have been 5 or 6 per day.
2300 Movement of transport and tanks along main road. This movement has been so
regular at night that it has earned itself the nickname of "The Bus Service".
29 Patrolling continued.
1900 "D" Company standing patrol at 838668 claim another hit on one of the crew.

Quite day on the whole with some shellfire.
Page 14 of 14
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
30 0200 Fighting patrol "C" Company attacked enemy posts near farmhouse 838666
with machine guns and grenades.
0900 Lieut.G.A.Patterson and twelve men selected from the battalion to form
part of Defence Company for Army Group Commander - General B.L.Montgomery.

"A" Company reformed under Captain Bennet and Captain Evans.
Total Casualties during the month:-

OFFICERS: 1 Missing. 18 Wounded (three died of wounds later)
OTHER RANKS: Killed 62: Missing 17: Wounded 239 (of whom 8 died later from wounds)