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War Diary: 7th Bn Royal Tank Regiment

Month and year: August 1944

The August 1944, war diary for the 7th Battalion Royal Tank Regiment covering their actions from area Butte de Chene to Montigny about 3 Miles West of Falaise.

National Archive Reference: WO 171/868

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Page 1 of 11
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
Field 1 C Sqn continued to support 197 Bde in holding Area Butte de Chene 845623.
A & B Sqns still remained at immediate notice.
Apart from Mortar Fire, which at times Was considered heavy enemy activity
was nil.
C Sqn remained in that location for the night
2 Sqns as for Tuesday 1 Aug.
Numerous Recces carried out by CO in view of new roles.
General Idea is that 197 Bde = 2/6 S.Staffs from 177 Bde will hold whole of
59 Div Front, with support of 2 Sqns of 7th Bn; i.e. B & C Sqns.
This reshuffle took place Wednesday night. Inf Patrol Activity.
The reason for this re shuffling is to allow 177 Bde with 7th Bn less 1 Sqn
to attack Monts on Friday.
The remaining Sqn of 7th to become Divisional Reserve.
176 Bde + 9 R Tks are to attack Pt 123 at the same time.
This involved numerous Recces to enable Sqns to deliver Counter-attacks on
any part of the Div Front along with 4 Inf Bns.
B Sqn. who are to assist in holding the Line until Friday are also to take
part in the attack.
Afternoon report from fwd Inf indicate that Enemy is withdrawing.
On the whole of the Fwd Lines of 59 Div, the enemy has left many mines -
both A/P and A/T which makes Recces etc. more difficult. Div Sappers are
doing their best to clear them, although in the time at their disposal It
appears that they will only have time to clear routes.
For the attack on Friday 1 TP of Avres and 1 Sqn of Flails have come under
the Command of this Bn with effect from tonight.
Heavy enemy Mortar Fire increased during the evening
Page 2 of 11
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
Field 3 At 0830 hrs the CO was called to attend Conf at 197 Inf Bde HQ. It was
here decided that upon reports from Inf Patrols who went out last night,
which stated that the enemy had withdrawn to the line Rd running NW - NE
through point 8561. A Tp of B Sqn and 1 Pln of Inf and a Party of Sappers
were to, advance with the task of patrolling South to NW ) NE Rd and then left
to Monts .
This was teed up and about to move off when it was suddenly cancelled and
the CO was asked to attend another conference at 11.30 hrs. The CO returned
from this at 1245 hrs and immediately called his Bn "O" op . He gave orders
to the effect that an Armoured drive to the main Villers - Bocage - Caen Rd
between Right, Juvigny - Viller Bocage and Left Rd Vendes to Fe de Montenec
(Pt-142) with objective Gwn Line Rd. V. Bocage. 8259 - Pt 213, 836589 - Pt 142
865609. Advance to be carried out by 197 Bde with 7 R Tks in support.
1 Sqn Flails and 1 Tp Avres u/c & R Tks.
4 Routes were decided upon. B Sqn on 1 & 2 ; C Sqn on 3 & 4 Routes, right to
left. Due to commence at 1630 hrs The advance met with no active enemy
opposition at first, although numerous mines of all kinds were encountered,
inc some obstacles.
2200 We had reached Line Denel 848609 + 400 yds; 500 yds N of Br 848598; level
crossing 861611 (here an extensive minefield); 300 yds N of Pt. 142, 865609.
Inf supported by out Tanks managed to get to Fermie de Montenacq 865609.
Although the actual line of objective had not been reached, the advance
was considered satisfactory in view of the extensive mining
We lost on mines 7 Churchills and 2 Flails.
2300 After Inf considered themselves happy on ground - our tanks withdrew to area 837627
Page 3 of 11
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
Field 4 A Sqn exploits.
Today A Sqn with E Lancs were given the task of exploiting through Villy
Bocage and Villers Bocage and into the high ground beyond.
The East Lancs went into Villers Bocage via Villy; the tanks entering
via pt 213 - 835590. This was accomplished by mid-day.
Inf and tanks reorganised themselves outside Villers Bocage and plan was
decided upon where by the high ground Pt 158 - 8556 should be seized.
Route - Canchere - Epinay sur odon - Pt 158.
Mines were encountered on the outskirts of Epinay, also a Tiger and Panther
were seen on the high ground South East but no Enemy fire was forthcoming.
By 2130 hirs Inf and Tanks were established on high ground Pt 158.
Page 4 of 11
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
5 Received Information that w.e.f. Sunday would be u/c 49 Div on I Corps
Front, East of the Orne.
The day was spent on maintenance and general "wash and brush up". 2 ORs injured.
Strength of Unit 35 offrs and 581 ORs, plus 1 offer and 26 ORs (LAD REME and Padre
6 0030 Received Movement Order.Appx A
0050 Bn moved off to new area. 0868.
1115 Arrived at Assembly Area .
Remainder of day was spent on maintenance and Recces by CO. Sqn Ldrs
conference in afternoon .
2215 Bn moved up to its forward area . 097668 Area.
Meet the Mosquito. Swarms are enormous. Very difficult to sleep.
7 Our role here is to support 49 Div in various counter attack roles,
supporting in particular 147 Bde.
The General Plan is that while a large scale attack goes in on the
Canadian Front 49 Div holds the left flank firm. On the receipt of Code
words we are prepared to advance to certain features and hold to the last
2300 The first batch of Br Bombers passed overhead - the Prelude to the attack
on Canadian Front The bombing was close and excellently carried out.
8 C' Sqn comes under Cmd of 70 Bde. 'A' & 'B' under 147 Bde Tanks remain
in same area.
1100 Fortresses bomb forward to our right in front of Canadians.
Spasmodic mortaring and shelling on our front only .
9 Still in Counter Attack Role with 49 Div.
In afternoon 70 Bde ask for a Tp of Tanks to be sent fwd to the high ground
area Le Fresne. 1763. About 3500 yds behind the enemy known Lines at that
Page 5 of 11
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
Field 9 As this involved going through some close country and then about 20000 yds
along a track (Which from the map appeared sunken) and the ground on either side
being marshy, a request was made for some Infantry to accompany us to deal with
the close quarter chap i.e. the Bazooka etc. 70 Bde eventually decided to call
it off.
1430 CO attended a conference at 147 Bde HQ. He received hare warning orders of an
attack on Vimont - 147 Bde with 'A' & 'B' Sqns in support - 'C' Sqn still
being u/c 70 Bde.
At the same time an attack was to go in from the Right by 146 Bde and 9 R Tks
H hr to be at 2000 hrs. The start line was to be - Rd through
Freihouille 1162 with Line of Railway as Right Boundary.
A Sqn Right with Leics; B Sqn. Left with D.W.R. B Sqn had one tp of SP
A/T Guns u/c. Once again mines were the great difficulty - Both 'S' and
Teller mines. A & B Sqns. had 2 blownup. on Teller mines. progress was
naturally very slow on this account Resistance at this stage was not
heavy though the mortar fire when it name down was fierce.
At last light the Bde was fairly well established on its first phase objective -
road running NE to SW. 130627.
Inf released the tanks as soon as they were dug in.
2300 Tanks were in harbour... A sqn in Orchard 118633 and B sqn. with RHQ tanks in
area 110638. Enemy shelling was experienced during the night.
1 OR injured.
10 C Sqn still remains in area u/c of 70 Bde. A & B Sqns moved out of their
respective areas to join up with their Inf again at first light . The
Leics have been withdrawn to Frenouville and the R.S.F. have taken their
place . A Sqn now with R.S.F. - B Sqn with D.W.R.
B Sqns ground was bad going and heavily mined 2 went up on Tellers.
These were quickly dealt with by the BTA and were on the road again the
Page 6 of 11
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
Field 10 same day.
R.S.F.s with A sqn managed to get just short of Vimont which was strongly
held, whilst 7 DWR, at the end of the day had withdrawn into a tight
pocket about 1000 yds North of Vimont.
The 9th Bn on our right with 146 Bde operating from area wood 1621 met
stiff resistance area Chicebouille.
At the end of the day the posn was that both 146 & 147 Bde were standing
off Vimont.
At dusk A & B Sqns returned to the Harbours they occupied last night,
1800 C Sqn was released from its role with 70 Bde. This was to enable them
to take part in an attack with 146 Bde on (Chickelioville and Vimont from
the West. 9th R Tks now being in Div reserve.
Leics have now moved from Frenouville and are in area just West of
C Sqn moved up to Wood area 1060. The attack is due to go in tomorrow
Friday 11th providing 51 H Div move up on the Right of 146 Bde.
146 Bde op Instruction attached. 9 ORs injured.
11 Nothing happened on our front today apart from enemy shelling and morter
fire. This was always promptly countered by our own arty. The attack
with 146 Bde and C Sqn did not go in. Waiting fot 51 Highland Div. to
come up on the right.
12 A & B Sqns in same location. C Sqn standing by for attack.
1230 CO called to Bde Conf. Told that 9th Bn would be taking over attack.
This is due to the relieving of Inf Bns, The result of which left
Page 7 of 11
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
Field 12 All 146 Bde to whom 9th Bn are attached in a posn to do the attack.
This was to come into effect from 1800 hrs unless the attack was to be
carried out before in which case it would still be supported by us.
9th Bn take over.
C Sqn remain where they are for the night
Strength of Unit 39 Offrs and 582 ORs plus 1 Offr and 26 ORs LAD and Padre.Appx 'B'
13 A & B Sqns as yesterday.
0430 C Sqn moves to new posn in orchard in Sq 1262.
Its role here is to be prepared to meet any threat of counter attack between
posns of 7 DWR and RSFs
0430 CO called to conference. Informed that Bn was to move to Cdn Sector
1900 Bn moved to Unville where it harboured for the night.
2 ORS injured.
Transcription note: Unville believed to be a typo of Urville
14 Morning spent on Recces of area to be held by us during and after the
assault of 2 Cdn Corps - Soignolles area. Whilst these Recces were going on
C Sqn were suddenly called to put in an attack with 5 N Scotia Regt on wood
Sq 1348 . This was at 1000 hrs. The Sqn moved out of Urville -
Map Ref at 1030 hrs H hr Was 1215 hrs. Start Line Road
running SW - NE through 130505.
1230 A & B Sqns moved out of Urville. Arrived Soignolles Area approx 1330 hrs.
Roads very congested. The Allied Bomber Force could be seen going
into action very clearly from this point.
Many Bombs were dropped on our own Tps, in particular wood 1059
C Sqn attack went according to plan and objectives were seized and
Infantry dug in by 1330 hrs. C Sqn sustained 2 KOd tanks by 88s. from
Quensey wood.
For the rest of the day the whole Bn stood by in readiness to meet any
Page 8 of 11
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
Field 14 Counter attack. Soignolles was under intermittent shell fire from the left flank until
1500 hrs.
2200 A & B Sons pulled into harbour for the night in Soignelles Area.
C Sqn followed in and arrived at 2300 hrs.
A number of enemy bombers were over during the night.
1 OR injured.
15 At first light A Sqn moved out of harbour to take up position as
occupied by C Sqn yesterday. Still counter attack role. B & C Sqns
remained in harbour at immediate notice.
In the afternoon the CO received orders to move Regt over to 49 Div
Area in Company 1750.
1800 B Sqn was sent on ahead and moved across sountry. The remaining Sqns
followed about an hour later.
B Sqn met mines on road between St Sylvian 1853 and Danneville 1555.
Sapper's were contacted and eventually a path was cleared.
By this time the remaining Sqns arrived.
We moved into Harbour in Danneville - Area 1555.
16 At first light B Sqn moved forward with a Sqn of 49 Div Recce and by
1100 hrs had established Standg Pats on Cesney aux Vignes, Ouezy and Canon.
A Sgn hatched a plot with KOYLIs of 146 Bde to attack Ingouville
MR 178594 from area Vallmeray. This attack went in at 1100 hrs.
C Sqn with 4 Leics of 146 Bde went in to seize Airon MR 188588 and to
push N'wards. All of the se attacks met with very little resistance
Page 9 of 11
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
Field 16 and C Sqn penetrated and pushed a Troop together with supporting Inf N'wards
to Pedouze.
In the meantime B Sqn reorganised into 2 half Sgns - one half being
responsible for Oesney, Ouzey and Canon; while the other half, with elements
of Recce seized the Bridge at Mezidoa.
1500 A Sqn was pulled in.
At nightfall C sqn was relieved as also was B and harboured area Cesney.
17 During the morning Inf was received that 9th Bn was relieving us and that
we were to move at 1400 hrs to area Billy.
During the day we were told that the Unit was being transferred to
34 TK BDE .
18 0430 Instructions were received that the Unit would move to the 34 Tk Bde Area
which was situated in the 12 Corps Sector - near Falaise.
0900 The Unit moved out and proceeded to the new area via Caen and Bretteville
sur odon and Villers Bocage. A remarkable run of over 54 miles was
accomplished by midnight with very few mechanical breakdowns . The Unit
harboured at Thesley for the night.
19 0730 An early move from Mealay to Montigny about 3 Miles West of Falaise.
This was again accomplished without trouble, and information was received
that the Unit would probably be remaining in this area for 2 to 3 days
for Maintenance and Reorganisation.
Strength of unit 40 offrs and 580 ORs plus 1 offr and 26 ORs LAD and Padre
20 Maintenance Rest and liaison with staff of 34 Tk Bde.Appx 'C'
Page 10 of 11
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
Field 21 Maintenance Rest and liaison with staff of 34 Tk Bde.
61 OR's and 4 Officers were drafted to us.
Work proceeded apace with the removal of turrets from Honeys (Gen Stuarts)
In the evening a concert was given by 34 Tk Bde RASC Coy in the barn of
an adjoining farm. The Local Inhabitants were invited.
22 All Ranks visited the Mobile Bath Unit.
Maintenance was continued and Cinema shows were arranged for the troops.
23 Whole of Regt still in area Martigny
Major Maintenance and mileage maintenance carried out on Churchill Tanks
and all vehicles.
The task of taking off all Honey turrets continues.
General clean up commenced throughput the Regt.
24 Maintenance etc. continues.
25 Maintenance continues.
26 Maintenance continues.
Strength of Unit 40 offrs and 624 OR's plus 1 Offr and 24 OR's LAD
27 0830 Received orders to be prepared to move to area Beaumesnil Harbour Recce
Party set off. Move is to be made on Tptrs. Road for loading Recced.
Regt standing by
1400 Orders re move cancelled.
Bathing in River Orne arranged during afternoon
28 Conference on Trng whilst in this location
Page 11 of 11
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
Field 28 Maintenance continues
Inter Sqn soccer played in evening
29 Trg Programme commenced for Offers and NGO's.
30 Training Programme
31 Training Programme.