War Diary: 7 Bn Duke of Wellington

Month and year: July 1944

The July 1944 war diary starts with the Battalion in area south of Fontenay le Pesnil and covers their fighting around Fontenay, Noyers, Cagny and Conde de Seulles.

National Archive Reference: WO 171/1288

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Page 1 of 4
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
Sat Jul 1 Bn is still est in area SOUTH OF FONTENAY LE PESNIL. At 0735 hrs
a small enemy force attempted to penetrate between 4 Lincs and 11 DLI
at ROURAY. Bn Stood To and quite soon this attack petered out. C Coy
(Maj.Mountain) gained infm by wireless from RAC sources that the
first attack was made by enemy tps wearing British uniforms which was
confirmed later by the 4th Lancers who reported elements of 1 SS PZ Div dressed in
BD doing the attack.
Attack developed on from 1 Tyneside Scots with Inf and tks. Hard fighting all
day. By noon B Coy of our Bn was put under comd of 4 Lincs to destroy
infiltration and moved off - accomplished its task most successfully and
was put into the front line to fill a gap between 4 Lincs and 11 DLI. Bn
came under command 70 Inf Bde and reported to Brig COOKE-COLLIS at FONTENAY. As
the battle developed, first C and then D Coys, then the whole Bn moved fwd
into the line at RAURAY relieving in battle, 11 DLI who had formed a
composite 11 DLI-1TS Bn to counterattack and plug original 1 TS front.
Whole complicated operation successfully done by 2100 hrs with one cas (B Coy)
in spite of sniping and mortaring.
Sun Jul 2 Active patrolling throughout night. Brig 70 Bde visits Bn HQ,
accompanying Staff Capt marks up his map from the Bn situation map. At
1400 hrs Bn HQ area is mortared, also at 1640 hrs. B Coy also receive a
'packet' but very efficiently got the bearing of the mortars at which
permission is given to engage them by arty. Enemy hard hit yesterday.
Mon Jul 3 It is learned that Bn may be relieved at 1400 hrs to move back
to last loon. Reps from coys and from relieving Bn report to Bn HQ to patrol
Bn area. At 1530 hrs the Bn is relieved by 4 RWF and moved back to old
loon SOUTH of FONTENAY-LE-PESNIL. At the same time reverted to comd
146 Inf Bde.
Tue Jul 4 Active patrolling carried out through night 3/4 Jul. Enemy fighters
flew over Bn HQ going SOUTH towards out lines. AA engaged and drove them off.
Wed Jul 5 Patrols out again night 4/5 - Nothing of importance to report
from any returning patrols.
Thu Jul 6 1 Leicesters take over new loons, newcomers to 146 Inf Bde in place of
6th Bn DWR. Patrols have nothing to report.
Fri Jul 7 Situation - No change. D Coy quickly reported enemy gun posns
located by compass bearing then engaged by our arty. Patrols - nil.
Sat Jul 8 Situation - No change
Sun Jul 9 It is reported that a live 16" naval shell is in area D Coy. RE
demolished at 1100 hrs. C Coy report enemy smoke screen being laid LEFT
fwd which proved to be a small enemy patrol attempting to attack outposts of
4 RWF- this was beaten off - all quite. At 1735 hrs Bde inform us that
we will take over 4 Lincs area on 11 Jul and that 1 Leicesters will take
over out positions.
Mon Jul 10 Patrols return nil report. IO 1 Leicesters visits Bn HQ to see about
changeover. At 0915 hrs Brig H Wood (Queens) (who assumed comd 147 Inf Bde
of 4 Jul) visits Bn. 1030 hrs CO and IO recce Lincs area fwd.
Tur Jul 11 At 1200 hrs relief by the bn Lincs begins. Bn HQ moves and takes
over at 1445 hrs, Leicesters take over our posns at same time.
Reliefs carried out with no incidents occurring.
Page 2 of 4
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
Wed Jul 12 Last nights patrols nothing to report. Brigadier visits
Bn area. Our Own fighting patrols report no location of enemy.
Thu Jul 13 D Coy reports slight mortaring in corner of field in front
which is occupied by their standing patrol. A Coys two
fighting patrols reported back. C Coy recce patrol reported
nothing except flares seen in the distance. Fighting patrols of
D Coy under Lt Lappin had a most successful patrol, killing 12
and wounding 4 Germans and suffering no casualties themselves.
The operation was controlled by OC D Coy (Maj ABM Kavanagh)
from his HQs by line to the patrol HQ 1000 yds forward. A fire
plan was arranged with Med Battery, Fd Regt and Bn Mortar Pl.
Registration was done by Lt Lappin and reported to the Gnrs and
Mortar Pl through D Coy HQ. The whole episode showed considerable
enterprise and offensive spirit. Bn HQ was registered by enemy
mortars which were engaged by our arty.
Fri Jul 14 More mortar loons sent back by D Coy, our arty engaged immediately.
Bn snipers went out and located sunked road, an obvious A Tk obstacle
with trees felled across and probably booby trapped.
Sat Jul 15 All patrols carry out tasks. CO thins out B Coy into D Coys old
area and posns. Two Pls and HQ only, one pl remains in present posn.
D Coy ordered not to take action against an enemy LMG posn - arty
engages. One third alert carried on through night. Noise of tks
heard by forward patrol of D Coy. At 0200 hrs B Coy reports
Cpl Scott and 1 OR not returned from patrol, presumed missing between
1800 - 2000 hrs 15 July. Lt Merrill and 2 ORs went on same route
and met hy fire from 3 spandaus. Observed two Germans adv along
ditch, attacked them with 36 grenades and Boche went to ground -
returned 2030 hrs no cas and no sign of Cpl Scott and 1 OR. D Coys
patrol in posn 0105 hrs and heard sentry marching on beat. Sentry
fired on them and MG opened up. Patrol withdrew according to plan.
No cas.
59 Div attacking through 49 to seize gen line NOYERS - MONTES.
Recces carried out by OC East Lancs and offrs from our lines.
Attack starts 0430 hrs with massive barrage. Bn keeps its head
well down to minimise DF. Attack successful on left. Sticky
on E Lancs front. Lancs Fus put in later and then R NORFOLK.
Sun Jul 16 A Coy is heavily mortared - no cas. At 1110 hrs 9 prisoners are
brought in by Capt Illingworth OC Carrier Pl identified as 986
Inf Regt of 276 Inf Div.
Mon Jul 17 A lot of harassing fire on our front during night. Patrols came
in nothing of importance to report. Brig arrives in Bn area.
2 PW gave themselves up to C Coy. They belonged to 463 Gren Eng
Bn and were of Polish nationality. Stated that their Regt consisted
of Poles and Germans, they were all willing to give themselves up.
176 Inf Bde fwd of our posn, attacked at 1200 hrs.
0330 hrs, hy bombing attack in rear of our posns. we received
wounded A Tk gnrs from unit in front who reported posns established.
Objectives taken but cas sustained from air bombardment
Tues Jul 18 0555 hrs RAF heavies seen flying towards CAEN. A little later
American Liberators were seen going in too.
It was reported that NOYERS had been captured by us.
Bn would likely move out to rest area but this was postponed owing
to situation at NOYERS being unfavourable, and the Bn to relieve us
was in reserve for counter attack if necessary on NOYERS.
At 1545 hrs orders received to pull out. Arrived rest area
CONDE-SUR-SEULLES 2100 hrs, Bn fed and then the order was given to sleep.
Wed Jul 19 After a short time in this area it was learned that the Div was
going under comd 1 Corps on the CAEN sector and a move would be
ordered any time.
Page 3 of 4
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
Sat Jul 22 Received warning order to move but postponed
Recce party consisting of CO and IO recced new area at
ST HONORINE East of Caen. This is conc area for 7 DWR with area
round about for rest of Div.
Sun Jul 23 Adv party moves off to new area by 70 Bde route.
Mon Jul 24 Reveille 0015 hrs move off embussed 0130 hrs.
Bn is to go into conc area ST HONORINE and then 147
Inf Bde will take over from 154 Inf Bde (HD) at area CAGNY
LE POIRIER and FREMOUVILLE South East of CAEN. The Bn will then
be reserve Bn for Bde. Reach concs area 0720 hrs. Bde ) Gp
for orders of move to CAGNY.
Recce party sets off, reps from each Coy to CAGNY where 7
Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders are waiting to hand over. Bn O Gp
2000 hrs.
Tue Jul 25 Bn moves in, starting at 1000 hrs and completes take over at
1445 hrs.
Bn HQ est N of CAGNY with Coys on outskirts of village fwd.
At 1440 hrs Bn HQ area and C Coy are heavily shelled all movement
drawing fire from high ground to East, South, and South West.
2115 hrs Typhoons with Allied markings machine gunned B Coy area -
no cas.
Major HM Kilner OC B Coy adm to hosp
Wed Jul 26 1030 hrs Bn HQ area again heavily shelled for an hour,
command post it situated in middle of open corn field and seems to
be ranged on by enemy arty. CO decides to move into area of
orchard further forward.
Thurs Jul 27 0120 hrs enemy planes overhead AP and HE dropped over wide
area until 0150 hrs.
Patrols report in to 2 i/c contacts made of flanking unit
patrols. An Italian deserter wearing SS uniforms belonging to 16
GAF Div surrendered to the Carrier Pl.
Frid Jul 28 Shelling of B Coys area occurred during the morning and
Pte Stead was killed.
All Coys were ordered that no movement would take place during
hours of light as enemy had good observation.
Efforts have been made within the Bn to-day to locate any
German weapons, which could be used against the enemy. Three 88 mm
guns, once inf gun and about 10 6 barrelled mortars with plenty of amn
were found, but mostly these weapons had been damaged beyond repair.
REME however hoped to be able to repair a few.
Our Bn snipers located from an OP enemy mortar posns which the
RA dealt with later in the day.
The day closed with the usual tip and run air raid by the enemy.
D Coy area was machine gunned but no cas.
Our patrolling was active tonight but no contact was made.
Sat Jul 29 During the early hours the enemy sent over planes which dropped
leaflets into our area. This was the first time he had used this
"weapon" against us. In the leaflets they tried to upset our minds
by promising many more new weapons with marked results also apologised
for his bombing of London "Buzz bombs" but said we had driven him to
do it by our bombing of German cities. The leaflets were treated with
the ridicule, they deserved.
Page 4 of 4
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
Just after stand down the area was heavily shelled which
resulted in the deaths of L/Sgt Bellamy of D Coy and in C Coy Lt Evans
Ptess Gibson and Slater were wounded. This leaves C Coy with only
Major Mountain and Lt Wood. Bn is now 8 offrs below WE.
Any movement within the area brings down shells but our visitors
are learning that we do not appreciate fast driving which may cause dust.
At 2300 hrs the Bn "Stand To" 100% as a small party of enemy
attacked the left fwd Coy of 11 RSF causing three cas. No identifications
were obtained by the enemy and the situation was rapidly restored by
a local counter attack by 11 RSF.
Sun Jul 30 Enemy air activity was less than usual during the early hours, but
at 0530 hrs a lone low flying aircraft flew over and machine gunned
and bombed D Coy.
On the whole shelling and mortaring has been less today. D & B Coys
have been chiefly effective and D Coy had 3 ORs wounded.
The attached newspaper was delivered by the RAF during the night.
Mon 31 Jul A rest from shells and mortar bombs as practically none fell in
our area today, but visibility is still good so the "no movement" order
still stands.
It has been noted lately that a very large proportion of "Duds"
have been amongst the enemy fire, both shells and mortars.
News has been received at last concerning Lt Hallsworth who has
been missing since setting off from CONDE-DE-SEULLES on a recce of
the route to ST HONORINE. It is now understood that he has been
admitted to hospital.
Patrolling has been carried out by all coys but so far contact with
the enemy has not been made.
Parties have now started again for the rest camp and a small allotment
of seats for ENSA shows (well in rear) has been given to the Bn.
No cas to-day.