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    War Diary: 7 Bn Duke of Wellington

    Month and year: September 1944

    The 7th Battalion Duke of Wellington September 1944 war diary covers the units advance through France into Belgium

    National Archive Reference: WO 171/1288

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    Page 1 of 18
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    BOURDON MR 753127Sep 10900Commanding Officer inspected HQ Coy and the Carrier P1 in Battle order, the
    remainder of the day being devoted to maintainance.
    140080 Officers and ORs attended an ENSA concert at Bde HQ MR 765110.
    Glorious weather and many saw their first "show" since arriving in France.
    223034 OR reinforcements arrive from the depot (BRANCEPETH CASTLE, DURHAM)
    20930All coys carrying out light training in the form of PT - unarmed combat and
    weapon training.
    1025Bde Commander arrived at Bn HQ and indicated that a move was likely in the
    near future. Bn spent remainder of day on maintainance and loading vehicles
    in spite of rumours which continually came in of the various times and
    destinations of the move.
    2200C.O. and I.O. to Bde 'O' Gp. Bde ordered to move to an assembly area
    30001Bn 'O' Gp. Coys ordered to move to assembly area SW TROUVILLE (845323)
    0430All Bn vehicles, less CO's and Coy Comd's Jeeps leave Bn HQ to join Bde colmn.
    Page 2 of 18
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    BOURDON30710All Bn embussed in RASC tpt., leave Bn HQ on a separate route. Both
    journeys involved crossing the RIVER SEINE. The tpt colmn was to cross
    over a railway bridge at ROUEN. Unfortunately this bridge was damaged
    during the early hours and after some 12 hours delay the colmn was diverted,
    finally crossing at ELBEUF. The Bn embussed had a similar delay
    though somewhat more interesting. The RASC tpt dropped the Bn at the
    CAUDEBEC (9326) crossing where after awaiting the arrival and subsiding of a tidal
    BORE, eventually crossed at 1215 hrs in DUKWS, an event much enjoyed by all,
    thence by march route. The delay in crossing the SEINE was caused
    mainly by the high priority of "ESSENTIALS" for our rapidly advancing army
    TROUVILLE 84532331730Bn arrived in new area after a 10 mile march and were very fortunate to
    have the cook's trucks arrive and serve a most welcome meal at 1900 hrs.
    40200Bn tpt arrived, men were fed and rejoined their coys.
    0900Members of BRITISH tps met GERMAN party with an ULTIMATUM for surrender of
    Le HAVRE city. Refused.
    Page 3 of 18
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    TROUVILLE41000Bde Comd arrived at Bn HQ. No likelyhood of move for at least 24 hrs.
    1 LEICESTER'S area 870319. RSF complete take over from 2 ESSEX area
    LE MESNIL (5732). The day spent in re-organisation and rest.
    21307 reinforcements arrive from 59 Div.
    51000Bn went for short route march by coys. Remainder of day spent resting and
    preparing for next move. Now evident Bn is to take part in the seige and
    assault of LE HAVRE.
    1400C. O. and I.O. to Bde 'O' Gp. Bn ordered to conc area GREMESE (6231). C.O., I.O.
    and Adjt recced new area immediately.
    2000Bn 'O' Gp. Coys given new area and orders to move. Moving embussed in
    German captured vehicles and Bde resources of 3 tonners.
    60930Bn crosses Bde S.P. 624318
    1205Bn arrives new conc area
    1800Bn witnessed the RAF drop 1500 tons of HE and incendiary bombs on LE HAVRE.
    A foul night of rain and wind.
    Page 4 of 18
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    TROUVILLE6First edition Bn News Sheet "Yorkshire Pud" printed. The Bn now has
    30 offrs 864 ORs with 'A' Coy commanded by Major J Jameson, 'B' Coy
    commanded by Major GMM Smallwood, 'C' commanded by Major G.V. Fancourt,
    D' Coy commanded by Major ABM Kavanagh, 'Sp' Coy commanded by Major BV
    Thomlinson, Adjt Capt WL Denton.
    GRENESE (6231)70730Weather still so bad RAF bombing raid postponed until 1600 hrs. Bn now
    earnestly studying maps, photographs and overprints for the attack on
    14002IC lectured to D, HQ and Sp Coys on "Street Fighting".
    15302IC lectured to A,B and 'C' Coys on "Street Fighting".
    1700C.O. and I.O. to Bde 'O' Gp. C.O. receives plan for attack on LE HAVRE,
    Bn remains at rest. Continous rain has made area a quagmire,
    80730In spite of severe rain and wind Bn was once again able to witness another
    RAF. bombing raid on LE HAVRE,
    14002IC hold conference with Coy Comds explaining outline plan for Bn's role of
    attack on LE HAVRE,
    Page 5 of 18
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    GRENESE81430C.O. I.O. to Bde receive further orders for the attack incl Sp arms.
    Remainder of day spent in briefing and planning. Rain continues.
    90930C.O. confers with C.O. 107 RAC (King's Own). Coy comds met Tk Tp comds
    and other sp arms.
    1400C.O., I.O. and Coy comds recce ground from 574283
    1830C.O. I.O. to Bde 'O' Gp. Final orders for the attack.
    2100C.O. "ties up" fire plan with Major CHILDS. RA
    100930Bn 'O' Gp. Bn final orders. Weather greatly improved.
    1345Bn moves to area ST MARTIN DU MANOIR 5830
    1500Light mortaring fwd of 'C' coy area 580308. Wounded one RE who was
    mounting a searchlight. Evacuated by our RAP.
    ST MARTIN DU MANOIR1630RAF bombing on LE HAVRE prior to Inf attack commenced.
    1745Bn had the pleasure of seeing by bombers of the RAF drop their bombs on
    the Bn objective. This had a pleasent effect on everyone concerned as
    the bombing was very accurate. This was confirmed by a visit to the
    ground after the operation was completed.
    Page 6 of 18
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    10190056 Bde sp by tanks, Flails, AVRE and Crocodiles commence the attack,
    2200Inf very scarce, I.O. to Bde. Learns 56 Bde have almost taken Div first
    objective. Many prisoners. Stiff resistence from two posts.
    Lieut KD Hounsfield, 7 DWR att Bde as L.O. killed at MONTEVILLIERS by mine,
    110600Expected move to Bn FUP still not ordered. Minefield seriously
    holding up advance but prisoners coming in, 1 LEICESTERS and RSF now
    fully committed.
    0615No move likely before 1000 hrs.
    0830Maplay and Slidex Compromised, Use Slidex for 12th. C.O., I.O. to Bde.
    Original plan though delayed still likely.
    1015C.O. meets Bde Comd at MONTEVILLIERS 5532. No change of plan but Bde
    still delayed by minefields,
    1100C.O. returns to Bn. Immediate orders to move in Kangeroos to conc area
    .531302 prior to advance to .85 in LE HAVRE,
    1230B and D Coys embuss in Kangeroos. C.O. meets Bde Comd at MONTEVILLIERS,
    Page 7 of 18
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    Sep 111400Hasty O GP. Even though road has been cleared, mines would periodically
    explode after a veh had gone over them, having been so long buried and
    very deep.
    1430Leading Kangeroo D Coy blown up on mine at 544318, a few mins later another
    Kangeroo suffered the same fate. This had drastic reactions as far as the
    Bn was concerned for just at the time the CO was meeting the Div Comd, who
    directed that the Bn was to proceed embussed with a sqn of tks into
    LE HAVRE to .85. Owing to the hold up, by mines the honour of being the first
    tps of the Div to enter the town was snatched from the Bn by a few moments.
    Glosters of 56 Bde was given the task instead. Disappointing but not
    1600Bn was ordered to resume its original plan and capture original objectives.
    2000Bn 'O' Gp. Plan changed once more. Bn are now to take the 'ROTUNDA'
    2100Bn crossed start line sp by sqn of tks just as daylight was fading.
    Page 8 of 18
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    Sep 112115C.O. orders tks to withdraw on account of failing light and heavy Craters left by RAF
    2130Objective reached with no opposition, Bn org and parolling continues
    throughout night.
    LE HAVRESep 120630Stand To'. Daylight reveals the Bn amidst a heap of ruble of what was
    once a well laid out suburban village - an example of RAF saturation.
    Bn molested with civilians searching their shattered housess while the
    battle for LE HAVRE still raged - most disconcerning and depressing sight
    1000Bde Comd visits Bn, no further orders.
    1100RSF attack strong pt on our left. Tk from Bn area successfully support
    this attack silencing one enemy posn. Posn cleared of enemy by 1400 hrs.
    One stretcher bearer (Pte Walker) B Coy killed whilst attempting to give
    first aid to a French civilian. Lt Lambert and two ORs slightly wounded.
    Note:- Our operation took place over the ground made famous in the days
    of Henry V namely "The Field of the Cloth of Gold"
    1400Remainder of day spent in watching mopping up of LE HAVRE collecting
    Page 9 of 18
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    Sep 121400stray horses and generally re-org.
    2000Bn moves to new area for the night 532292.
    Sep 131030Bn moves to rest , back to ST MARTIN-DU-MANOIR prior to settling in Div
    rest area.
    1430CO, 2IC, OC D Coy to FECAMP.
    Sep 14Bn moves to ST GILES - DE - LA - NEUVILLE for rest. The day was spent in
    settling in new area. Baths, Cinemas and theatre were enjoyed by all ranks.
    Booty in the way of butter, beer and tinned fruit, captured from the
    Germans at LE HAVRE provided a variety in the menu.
    Sep 151100Brig visits the Bn. Usual entertainments enjoyed by all ranks. Baths were
    also laid on,
    17302 IC gave a lecture on the general situation working through the different
    phases of the campagn since 'D' day.
    Sep 16The day was spent in resting and entertainments, Junior NCOs cadre
    commenced under 2 IC and RSM,
    Page 10 of 18
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    St Giles De La NeuvilleSep 171315Bn leaves for GILCOURT 3468 near DIEPPE
    1900Bn settled in new area.
    GILCOURTSep 18Day spent in maintenance.
    1600CO lectures to A.B.C. coys on the "Rhine"
    1700" " " D. HQ. SP " " " "
    Sep 190930Bn by coys, leaves on short route match.
    1700Liberty trucks' to DIEPPE
    Sep 20Day spent in rest and maintenance. Adv parties leave for Belgium, Rumours
    that Bn is going to right flank of 1st Cdn Army, Calais also
    Sep 210515Bn moves embussed on first 'leg' to Belgium, via ABBEVILLE - ARRAS - TOURNAI
    GUIGNIES1800Bn arrived inassembly area for night. Everyone under cover. Great welcome in Belgium
    Sep 220530Bn leaves on second 'leg' of move to Belgium, Passed through Brussells at
    1230 receiving a great ovation.
    TOLHOIS 63831620Arrived in new loon for night.
    Page 11 of 18
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    Sep 222200Bn O Gp. Bn to take over from the 7th Queens (7 Armd Div) on the
    ESCAUT CANAL, This was on the left hand base of the Second Army corridor
    to HOLLAND.
    BOEKEL 0189Sep 230630CO and recce parties to area 7 Queen's Daylight take over, hoping for
    fog but weather clear.
    0745A.B. 1 P1 C Coy and HQ Coy arrive in new area, A Coy in locn of worlds biggest
    radium factory.
    0800Civilian reports enemy withdrawn some 20 miles.
    0900Bde Conf, IO attended, CO briefing patrols for crossing of canal.
    0915Patrols of A and B Coys cross ESCAUT CANAL, No opposition.
    0930A Coy report HERENTAIS clear of enemy.
    1030B Coy patrol capture 2 Boche on north side of Canal.
    1119C Coy concentrate with remainder of A Coy in new area.
    1120B Coy patrol capture 4 Boche.
    1200Remainder of Bn assembles in new area. No signs of active enemy.
    Page 12 of 18
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    Sep 231900B Coy take 3 more prisoners and 1 collaborater,
    2000B Coy patrol brought in another prisoner.
    2130CO. IO. to Bde 'O' Gp. No move before a.m. 24th
    Sep 240600B Coy patrol to 021934 to see if roads were mined and passable to vehs.
    Bde sappers were building improvised bridges.
    0745German prisoner surrended at WESTERLOO 0182.
    1130Civilian reports TURNHOUT 0506 clear of enemy.
    1200Bn standing by to move.
    1345CO meets Bde Comd. Two coys to move to TURNHOUT embussed.
    followed to remainder BN. about 2hrs later.
    1410D and C Coys move off for BREEN 0203. Pouring rain, Overwhelming
    welcome in every village
    1820Bn HQ est at DE HOEVEN 0205. D and C Coys well est on TURNHOUT CANAL.
    TURNHOUT evacuated but enemy still holding N bank of Canal in some strength.
    Canal 30ft wide. Raining and blowing hard.
    1935Bde 'O' Gp. Bn to cross TURNHOUT CANAL at 0400 hrs.
    Page 13 of 18
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    Sep 242030Bn 'O' Gp
    2100CO recces D Coy area as a likely croosing place for B and D Coys
    TURNHOUTSep 250030Bn now concentrated in TURNHOUT 0406. Enemy alert, firing verey light and
    0150H hour which was to have been 0400 postponed. Bn to cross in two places
    D Coy right, B Coy left. Bank of canal steep and and deep. Weather
    appalling, Enemy alert.
    0500Bn 'O' Gp. postponed. Hy arty and mortar and SAA fire brought down
    on Hun with good effect as disappeared to ground.
    0700Enemy mortared S Canal bank, 1 cas in B Coy (Pte Kershaw)
    0745D Coy observe 1 enemy killed 1 wounded.
    0815B Coy area mortared. Mortar located at 054079 and silenced by our mortars.
    C Coy claim 5 Boche killed by SAA,
    0920Bde Comd visits Bn. Section Carriers having been pinned down 2 hrs are
    Page 14 of 18
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    Sep 250920withdrawn, C Coy report 3 ton enemy lorry full of men engaged by 2"
    mortar. Inflicted about 30 cas. Arty fire on N bank of Canal,
    Carrier Sec comd Sgt Evans killed.
    1115CO. IO. to Bde. Bn to cross canal and move to RYKEVORSEL 9209.
    1230Bn 'O' Gp. IO to 146 Bde re situation at RYKEVORSEL Bn may take over
    from 1/4 KOYLI who are still fighting,
    1500Plan cancelled. 2 IC and recce parties return from RYKEVORSEL.
    1600CO orders coys to new areas on TURNHOUT CANAL. Bn settles with A. and B
    coys on Canal Bank as Div Res. Bn HQ in Barracks at TURNHOUT. Uneventful night.
    Sep 260800Bn to give all assistance to RSF crossing to make bridgehead NW of TURNHOUT.
    09306 enemy seen digging in on canal bank. Engaged by mortars and not seen
    1000Spandua fire at B Coy from 045069. Engaged by our mortars and silenced.
    11302 PW brought in by carrier patrol,
    1240Spandua observed by B Coy at 046069, engaged by 2" mortar, 2 hits observed.
    Page 15 of 18
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    Sep 261330D Coy engage enemy at 004076 with SAA fire.
    1345D Coy observe Boche queing up at factory 019074, dispersed by mortar and SAA fire,
    1445C Coy report 'S' mines on their front also MG firing from 024052. Engaged
    by mortars. D Coy report 4 enemy killed by SAA.
    1600Bn standing by to move.
    1800Bn 'O' Gp. CO and recce parties leave at 1730 to recce posns of 2 Glocs
    (56 Bde) who are still in action.
    2145Bn moves off in coy blocks. Handing over to RSF.
    2230D Coy report in posn in new area, occassional shelling,
    DE MEIR 9408Sep 270230Bn in posn HQ at 952079.
    0415Standing patrol with 4 Lincs on right est 953072.
    1015Bde Come arrives Bn HQ.
    1100Intermittent shelling of bridge to Bn rear, No contact with enemy who appear
    to have withdrawn at least 1000 yds.
    1430D Coy bring in 4 PW. 7 Coy, 743 Regt, 719 Inf Div.
    Page 16 of 18
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    Sep 272030More intermittent shelling.
    2215Sitrep from Bde, Bn will not move until after 5 Cdn Bde and 10 Polish Armd
    Div have passed through.
    Sep 28Day quiet. Bn to adv at dawn as right flank protection to Bde
    main effort by Leics to capture DEPOT DE MENDICITE allowing 10th Polish Armd
    Div to pass through, B - C Coys adv 1000 yds at last light to secure passage past marshes
    Sep 290530A Coy, Right, reach FUP. Comd Gp moves from present locn. Coy, left,
    with one tp Cdn tks under comd.
    0600A Coy reach start line after slight opposition,
    0740A Coy approaching objective after some stiff fighting, A few cas. D Coy's
    adv held up by 1 Leics being unable to get fwd. Mortaring of Bn area by
    0800A Coy on objective, but strong pt still holding out. D Coy held up but
    assisting by fire A Coy and 1 Leics. Prisoners report many wounded in
    their posns.
    Page 17 of 18
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    Sep 290930A Coy est on their objective.
    1000A Coy break up expected counter attack by hy mortar fire
    1200Some confused fighting, By now 1 Leics have secured a hold on their objective
    on left. D Coy still held up by 20 mm and SA. 1 tk knocked out. 2 carriers
    knocked out.
    1522Polish Div tps seen adv on our right. Posn of A Coy much more cheerful.
    Poles adv in fine form sweeping all opposition from them. Contact A Coy
    at 1600 hrs.
    1600All enemy on our front now withdrawn.
    1740Poles forming up to pass through Bn posn with their armour. Our posn now firm.
    Cas 7 killed, 16 wounded, 39 prisoners taken. At least 50 killed and
    wounded amongst enemy. Bn remains in area 965089 for night. D and A
    coys fwd C and B in res. Weather cold and wet, rum issued and very welcome.
    Patrolling during night, nothing to report.
    Page 18 of 18
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    Sep 3007204 PW brought in by B Coy
    08151 PW " " " "
    Bn remain in same locn spending day collecting enemy eqpt, cleaning up and
    general maintenance,
    1700Bde 'O' Gp. No move until following day now confirmed. Bde task is to
    follow up Poles and hold ground they have captured,