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    War Diary: 65th Norfolk Yeomanry Regiment

    Month and year: June 1944

    The June 1944 65th Norfolk Yeomanry Anti Tank Regiment war diary starts with the regiment at Camp S.5. Brentwood and unloading at Asnelles-Sur-Mer on the 9th of June and then follows their advance inland to area Sainte-Honorine-de-Ducy

    National Archive Reference: WO 171/921

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    Page 1 of 12
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    Camp S.5. Brentwood1Weather turned dull, with rain for about 1 1/2 hrs. C.O. lectured
    to all officers of RHQ, 258 & 260 Btys on MAPLAY code (used for
    encoding MAP refs),at 1200 hrs for about 3/4 hrs. Orders issued
    for changing money to-morrow
    2CO, OC 258 & OC 260 and A/Adjt left Camp S.5. to go to the T areas
    where they are marshalling. The C.Os. recce party which comprises
    the above named officers is moving with 257 Bty, in order to arrive
    overseas about 24 hrs in advance of their Bties etc. Changed
    Sterling; withdrawn from the troops, and drew £1 equivalent per
    head in the new currency for payment to troops. The money is not
    to be paid over to the men until tomorrow in order to keep the
    country which is to be invadid as secure as possible until the
    last moment. Orders issued for marshalling personnel which is
    to be carried out tomorrow.
    3Exchange money paid out together with £1 per head pay at 0800
    hrs. Rate of exchange 200 Francs to £1 Sterling Francs are
    issued in denominations of 500, 100, 50 & 5.
    Personnel marshall as follows:-
    MT 23 (RHQ) in present area.
    MT 14)
    MT 26) 258 in S.7.
    MY 24 RHQ & 260 in S.7.
    MT 25 260 in S.7.
    Parties moved off starting at 1000 hrs and marched to Camp S.7.
    (Warley Barracks) about 2 miles away. At this stage, Battery
    identity ceases, until we concentrate in France, and unit parties
    are directly under command the senior officer from the unit on
    that ship.
    Page 2 of 12
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    Camp S.5. Brentwood3 (Cont)MT 23 personnel remaining in camp S.5. are u/c Adjt; warning
    order received that we move to embarkation point
    to-morrow at 1330 hrs.
    Page 3 of 12
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    Camp S.7. BrentwoodMT 23 personnel (consisting of Adjt, MO & Lt(QM) and 25 O.Rs.
    paraded at 1245 hrs with kit and at 1300 hrs were loaded into
    troop carrying vehicles. At 1330 hrs we moved off to the
    docks at TILBURY arriving at about 1430. A bag ration of a
    packet of biscuits and 2 bars of chocolate had been provided
    before leaving S.5. and this Was consumed on arrival at the
    docks where a mug of tea was ready for each man. After the
    usual hanging about, we boarded a ferry boat at about 1630 hrs
    and went out to MT 23, now standing in mid-stream. MT 23 is a
    "Liberty Ship" called "SS IGNATIUS DONELLY" crewed by Americans.
    Liberty Ships are built for cargo only, but in this case, two
    holds Tween decks have been left clear of vehicles in order
    to accomodate troops. The overcrowding is of course immense
    and everyone is most uncomfortable but in very good spirit.
    Cooking facilities are virtually nil, but by pooling cooks
    and cooking equipment from units on board, a cookhouse is set
    up on deck. OC Troops held a conference of Unit party Comman-
    ders, which the Adjt attended and certain points for inclusion
    in Ships standing orders were discussed and a decision reached.
    The men had a hot meal and a brew of tea during the evening.
    Rations on board are the "Compo" type, and it has been decided
    to make and individual issue of the tins of self-heating soup
    and cocoa, cigarettes and chocolate, while the remainder of the
    rations go to the cooks for preparation.
    Tilbury.5Ships orders were explained to the men and other points of
    drill such as lifebelts, etc. were practised. At 11000 hrs a
    parade was held at emergency stations and the Adjt explained
    the method of launching rafts and the proceedure for "Abandon
    Page 4 of 12
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    Tilbury5 (Cont)Ship". The various alarm signals were learned. At 1630 hrs
    we moved down river in company with a number of similar ships
    and dropped anchor again just inside the boom.
    Standing off Tilbury.6Remained anchored all day. At 0800 hrs news was said to have
    come from the BBC that the Germans report a paratroop landing
    at the Seine Estuary. Later, the ships officers kindly loaned
    their Radio's loud speaker to be put on the deck so that the
    men could hear it. Shortly afterwards, official news of our
    landing between Le Havre and CHERBOURG was announced in a
    communique from HQ Allied Expeditionary Force. At 1400 hrs
    the Adjt obtained permission to brief the men and with the
    aid of maps and Air Photographs of the beach (the latter
    borrowed for the occassion) explained the plan, and gave the
    men so far as possible an idea of the immediate job on landing.
    Exhortations from Generals Eisenhower and Montgomery were read.
    Weather cold with a high wind, a slight rain for a short while
    in the evening.
    7Weighed anchor at 0600 hrs and sailed about half an hour later,
    from 0800 approx to 1015 approx, the convoy (about 27 ships)
    moved only at a crawling pace, during which time we passed
    through the Straights of Dover. The French Coast was clearly
    visible until many Corvettes and Minesweepers and other small
    escort craft, together with 2 Albacore aircraft laid a smoke
    screen covering the convoy. 2 shells presumably from enemy
    coastal Bties landed in the sea in the convoy. Convoy proceeded
    all day at the same very slow pace. Plans were made at an OC
    Troops conference at 1800 hrs for unloading the ship.
    Page 5 of 12
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    7 (Cont.)At present it is not known what craft will be used to take
    vehicles and personnel to the shore. The order was given that
    during the evening the ship should remain as quiet as possible.
    It is presumed to be because of the listening apparatus on the
    escort ships.
    On board ship.8Breakfast this morning is at 0600 hrs and the ship is made
    ready to unload by 0700 hrs i.e. personnel bring all their kit
    on deck, and hatches etc. are cleared. At 0815 we dropped
    anchor off the landing beach amid a mass of shipping of all
    kinds - Battleships, Naval craft of every sort and size. Our
    landing beach is area ASNELLES-SUR-MER 7786: Apparently
    unloading operations were delayed yesterday by bad weather,
    and in consequence therefore we are held up today. Many
    landing craft can be seen stranded high and dry on the sands
    and it is thought (from a ships wireless intercept) that they
    were ordered not to discharge vehicles until they were dry.
    During the day we moved about occassionally on directions from
    a navy launch to form up in the order required. While the tide
    was low we were resting on the sea-bed for some 2 hours. No
    unloading took place from MT23 all day.
    Asnelles-Sur-Mer.9At about 0900 hrs an LCT came alongside to commence the unload-
    ing and was followed by others. Unloading proceeded very slowly
    and not until about 1130 was the first LCT able to move off to
    the shore with 6 vehicles on board. The sea is fairly calm
    though the small craft are about a little. Weather dull
    and windy. About 1200 hrs the LCT (and others) moved away to
    the shore to unload. In several cases vehicles were unloaded
    Page 6 of 12
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    Asnelles-Sur-Mer.9 (Cont)in water too deep for them and were soon drowned and completely
    submerged by the rising tide.When this happened the vehicles
    in question were of ten smashed by landing craft steering over
    them. Once ashore, drivers followod the Div Axis to concentration
    areas, the RA concentration area being the area RYES,
    8483; SOMMERVIEU, 8381; MAGNY, 8182. See Regt O.C. No1 attached
    Sommervieu.10By about 1500 hrs nearly all RHQ vehs from MT ships 23 and 24
    had assembled and a skeleton TAC HQ had moved to TAC 131 Bde.
    At 1930 hrs orders were received that 131 Bde would start to
    move forward to the Battle at first light the following morning,
    and RHC Main + B Ech moved at 2100 hrs to the respective Echelons
    of 131 Bde HQ located in the POULIGNY AREA - 807827.
    As the battie moves forward numbers of enemy snipers remain
    undetected behind our lines, and brings the need for very
    careful stand to both at last and first light to importance.
    As it does not get dark until 2315 and starts to get light at
    0430 the night is very short, and sleep thus limited. In
    addition enemy aircraft are active at these times, as our own
    fighter cover have to return to ENGLAND or come from there in
    Pouligny.11At 0700 RHQ Main moved wi th 131 Bde Main to area BLARY 805760.
    Tac are already there. Respective Bty War Diaries show the
    localities of Bties and their progress in the battle.
    News received today that 260 Bty (17 Pdrs mounted on M.IO S.P.
    equipments) had destroyed a German Mk.lV tank. Still a number
    of guns have not arrived, but gradually Bties are building up
    to their full strength. Heavy fighting is proceeding North of
    Page 7 of 12
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    Blary.12The Battle in the TILLY area is becoming static, and we are
    uable to advance owing to the very bad country and cross fire
    from easily concealed enemy positions
    259 Bty (Due to land on D Plus 3) started to link up with us.
    73967113Moved at 0400 hrs to proceed down a new Centre Line, as the
    plan for the advance to VILLERS BOCAGE 8157 has been changed.
    The new Centre Line is Track junction 751759 ST PAUL DU VERNAY
    7470, X Roads 727634, BRIQUESSARD 742594, - VILLERS BOCAGE.
    It was reported later in the day, that the Brigade group had
    entered VILLERS but had moved out to the NORTH of the town as
    the fighting inside was too stiff. Between the present Centre
    Line through TILLY, numerous enemy are located in woodsetc.
    and in fact the BRIQUESSARD - VILLERS road is cut, and the
    Centre Line threatened in other places. RHQ is located at
    739671 and it is reported that some 500 enemy are in the woods
    NE, E and SE of this location, (Who are armed with small arms
    weapons and possibly an odd tank or so) during the night the
    Adjt is placed in command of area defence for 131 Bde MAIN HQ
    and attached HQs. There are however, only about 35 ORs who
    can be taken for defence from the whole HQ: while still keeping W/T
    sets etc manned. These men, with 4 Bren Guns, and the remainder
    carrying rifles and Stens are put out as perimeter defence, around
    the camp area. Nothing however, is seen of the reported enemy
    and the bulk of the guard is withdrawn at stand down in the
    Page 8 of 12
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    73967114Replacement arrived for the 15 cwt W/T Rear Link truck which
    was drowned on landing. Warning order that the Brigade is moving
    over to a new Centre Line FOULOGNES 7065 - X Roads 727634 -
    LA PAUMERIE 731617 - VILLERS BOCAGE, and the move to the new
    Centre Line will take place at 1st Light tomorrow. Troops in
    the VILLERS area are being withdrawn and 131 Bde are to form
    a firm base with the Armour behind them. The Adjt did a recce
    for Bde HQ of the area to which Bde HQ is to move.
    71764415RHQ, MAIN moved at 0600 hrs to area 710653. TAC Bde moved to
    area 717644. Later MAIN moved to the area of TAC and the two
    sub-sections of RHQ joined up. The Brigade has formed a firm
    base from the area TORTEVAL 7563 to BRIQUESSARD 7459, with the
    Armd Bde behind it. C.O. spent the day Co-ordinating A/TK layout.
    The infantry are very thin on the ground and there are considerable
    gaps in the defence. Mobile reserves of Tanks, the Armd Bde
    Motor Bn and 260 Bty are available. In the evening enemy counter
    attacks developed on a comparatively small scale, presumably to
    probe the defence line for weak spots. In certain places odd
    numbers of 20 or less enemy infantry infiltrated behind
    our lines. In this very wooded country, with hedges everywhere,
    it is not difficult for them. All attacks were repulsed with
    considerable losses to the enemy.
    16Counter attacks all day along the Southern and Centre sectors
    of the Bde front. 257 Bty killed a Mk Vl (TIGER) tank at 150x
    range Bties are under Comd Bns. as follows:-
    257 1/6 Queens 258 1/5 Queens. 259 1/7 Queens.
    260 22 Armd Bde, mobile reserve in support of firm base.
    Page 9 of 12
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    71764416 (Cont)257 & 258 Bties did a good deal of damage to enemy infantry
    by small alms fire, killing numbers of them.
    17Enemy are still probing the line, and are being beaten satisfactorily
    all the time. 257 Bty again killed a tank, beleived
    to be a TIGER.
    At 1400 hrs it was reported that Major L.G. Ditchfield, OC
    257 Bty had been killed, a short time before the report.
    Maj J.J. Barclay (2 i/c) attended a conference at 131 Bde HQ
    and afterwards went out on a recce of new positions. The Bde
    Comd's intention is to reform the firm base on a new line some
    800-1000 yards behind the present line and has been given 1 RB
    to be included. This will thicken the infantry considerably.
    About 1830 hrs 257 Bty reported on the air that they and 1/6
    Queens were being overrun by infantry. CO ordered 8 M.10's
    (with 17 pdrs) from 260 Bty to proceed to the area to assist
    in restoring the line. RHQ TAC & MAIN moved together at 2030
    hrs to STE HONORINE DE DUCY726655 to more appropriate billets.
    A line was run out to Bde HQ who remained in their same
    location 257 have difficulty with the enemy all night in the
    process of withdrawing their guns. 1 Off & 19 O.RS. joined the
    Regt from 1st reinforcements. The officer, Lt. ORFORD was not
    formerly in the Regt but the 19 O.Rs. are personnel sent as 1st
    reinforcements in the U.K.
    STE. HONORINE DE DUCY.18Padre held a Communion Service for RHQ at 0600 hrs. 257 Bty
    are now known to have lost 4 guns during last night and about
    17 O.R.S. MAJ H CRANFIELD RA is posted to the Regt to command
    257 Bty and Capt LOG SWAIN who rejoined this Regt on 15 June is
    Page 10 of 12
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    Ste Honorine De Ducy18posted to 257. Adjt visited Corps reinforecement unit in the
    evening and drew 20 O.R. reinforcements.
    19Wet weather all day to-day and cold. The front is very static
    and most of the Division is making up a little sleep. The Adjt
    gave RHQ their (usually) daily talk on the battle situation at
    2000 hrs and at 2100 hrs all the men listened to the news from
    the BBC which concluded with a despatch from a War Correspondent
    describing the 7th Armoured Division's experiences in NORMANDY.
    20Weather still wet. Adjt visited 257 Bty to take a Summary of
    Evidence in two cases for which Court-Martials are required.
    21Adjt again visited 257 Bty to take an addition to a Summary of
    Evidence taken yesterday. Weather dull and wind cold. A few
    shells in RHQ vicinity during the night.
    22Weather dull in morning again, but brightened up considerably
    later on. At about 1700 hrs a number of shells fell in the RHQ
    and MAIN HQ 131 BDE area. No casualties but a few tyres punctured,
    petrol cans broken and minor things of that sort.
    23No change in the situation. B.Cs. conference at 1500 hrs to
    discuss promotion of NCO's to fill existing vacancies. The
    conference was held at RHQ and lasted 2 hours. Weather quite
    sunny and warm.
    24No change to report in the situation. Weather hot with no wind.
    Capt Fitxgerald and Lt. KE Flatt left the Regt.
    Page 11 of 12
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    Ste Honorine Du Ducy.25Lt. P.H. Stewart inter-posted from RHQ to 257 Bty. F.G.C.M. held
    at RHQ for trial of Gnr Callaghan (257 Bty) Prosecution conducted
    by Adjt, while Lt. HA Arnold defended the accused. Very fine
    weather again. At about 2200 hrs shells arrived in the RHQ billet
    area. It is thought probable that an enemy SP 88 mm is firing at
    the Steeple of the Church about 100x from our house. One shell
    hit the roof of the Church, while most of the remainder crashed
    into the ground about 20x from our house. One OR recently posted
    to RHQ was wounded in the thigh and buttock.
    71865926Moved (as the present position seems destined to be shelled
    accurately) at 0645 hre and leagured temporarily at 720647, while
    CO2 recced a more suitable area, Moved again on the result of this
    recce to a house at 718659. CO visited all guns of 2 batteries
    during morning. Wet all day to-day, Rum issue ordered in the
    evening by the usual Div signal for i - "Splice the Mainbrace"
    27Adjt visited 257 Bty to take further evidenee in a Court Martial
    case. In the afternoon, he visited B Echelon for the same reason
    and them went to the re-inforcement camp at 823750 to obtain
    reinforcements. CO is informed of an operation due to start shortly
    and lays on the A/Tk part but the operation is subsequently
    cancelled, and new orders issued that the CO is to co-ordinate
    the A/Tk defence of a firm base consisting of the present firm
    base, extended to the left as far as LES ORAILLES 7666. News of
    8 Corps advance West of CAEN is good.
    28CO & CO2 recceing the new A/Tk defence during morning. Staff
    Capt RA visited RHQ during morning. Bties locations as from
    Page 12 of 12
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    71865928 (Cont)tomorrow are as follows, 258 and 260 having moved.
    RHQ 719659 257 HQ 745624 258 RHQ 727613
    259 Hq 748632 260 HQ 740655.
    29Orders received that we are to send a Major and 2 layers to test
    our new equipment in the UK. The equipment is a VALENTINE tank
    mounting a 17 pdr. Major Jackson and a layer from each of 258
    & 260 Bties will be sent.
    Lt. V.R. MINNEY joined RHQ as A/Adjt in place of Lt PH STEWART
    who went to 257 Bty on June 25.
    A 17 pdr from 259 is ordered to report to Div HQ to-morrow
    morning for a water test under the CRE. The details of the test
    are not yet known, but the gun is to be semi-waterproofed with
    Grease G.S.
    30Weather still very dull and wet. 259 supplied a 17 pdr to carry
    out a trial for crossing a river. The gun was supported in the
    water by infantry boats tied to it, and towed across by a DUKW.
    Unfortunately, towards the end, due to an accident the propellor
    shaft of the DUKW broke, but the trial was sufficiently carried
    out by then. The gun has to be waterproofed to cross a river in
    this way. At about 2000 hrs between 300 & 400 RAF Lancasters and
    with the object of interfering with communications of 9 & 10 Pz
    Divs which have just appeared on the front. The planes flew over the
    front and provided a magnificient sight for the army. Very few were
    shot down (about 3) due to the fact that AGRA and our Div Arty were
    shooting hard on all known enemy AA-positions. FLAK was very meagre.
    At about 2030 hrs. A Party of American Officers from 2 US Armd Div
    arrived at RHQ with the information that they were releiving us.
    News to this effect was reveived from Div shortly afterwards and
    the Div is going to move to a concentration area North and North West
    of TILLY-SUR-SEULLES in the area of JERUSALEM x roads 8272.