National Archives catalogue number WO 171/845.

 

Abbreviation

2 IC

AB

Armd

Arty

Ass

A/Tk

Bde

Bn

Br

Bty

Cas

Cdn

C-in-C

CO

Comd

Conc

DD

Div

Doc

DZ

ERY

Excl

E Yorks

FDS

GHQ

GOC

GR

Gren

H

Hy

i/c

Incl

Inf

LCT

Ldr

M/C
Med

MG

OC

O Gp

OR

Posn

PW

Pz / Pzr

RAP

Regt

Regtl
Rep

RHQ

RN

Sec

S Lancs

SP

Sqn

SS

Staffs Yeo

Tac

Tk

Tp

Second-in-Command

Armoured Brigade

Armoured

Artillery

Assault

Anti-Tank

Brigade
Battalion

British / Bridge

Battery

Casualties

Canadian

Commander-in-Chief

Commanding Officer

Commander

Concentration

Duplex Drive

Division / Divisional

Document

Drop Zone

East Riding Yeomanry

Excluding

East Yorkshire Regiment

Field Dressing Station

General Headquarters

General Officer Commanding

Grenadier Regiment

Grenadiers

Highland

Heavy

in-command

Including

Infantry / Information

Landing Craft Tank

Leader

Motorcycle

Medical

Machine Gun

Officer Commanding

Orders Group

Other Ranks

Position

Prisoner of War

Panzer

Regimental Aid Post

Regiment

Regimental

Representative

Regimental Headquarters

Royal Navy

Section

South Lancashire Regiment

Self-Propelled / Support (lower case)

Squadron

Special Service

Staffordshire Yeomanry

Tactical

Tanks

Troop

 

Month and year : June 1944

 

1st June 1944

Place: Portsmouth

 

1000 - Craft Comds of 'A' and 'B' Sqns and Commanding Officer attended Naval Briefing Conference at HMS Vernon when final navigational instructions were given to COs of all craft in the Assault Group by DSOAG, Comdr Currie RN.  'A' and 'B' Sqns continued to waterproof their DD Shermans and had practice swims to tie up details of speed and petrol consumption.  Wireless sets still being fitted on the bridge of LCT IIIs in Assault Flotilla.

 

2nd June 1944

Place: Portsmouth

 

1100 - Brigade Comd, 27 Armd Bde visited Regiment in Marshalling Camps.  Orders for embarkation arrived at various times of the day and night, each countermanding the other.  In general Marshalling Camps were badly organised and food very poor, much worse than Exercise FABIUS.

 

3rd June 1944

Place: Portsmouth

 

0300 -  Craft Serials of 'C' and 'HQ' Sqns 1st Tide Vehicles moved to embark on Gosport Ferry Hards.  Progress was slow to begin with as tanks were towing porpoises for the first time.  Average load was 8 Officers and 75 ORs in an LCT III or IV.

 

Place: Solent

 

1200 - Craft Serials moved out from harbour and anchored in the Trots in the Solent.  Weather fair but a moderate breeze blowing.

 

1700 - All craft of 'C' and HQ Sqn tanks were ordered back to Hards to off-load two tanks, as weight was considered too heavy by Higher authority and living space in the well-decks non-existent.  A fourth craft was therefore added to this Division to take the balance of the tanks.  This has been pointed out before on several occasions by this Regt during the last 6 months.

 

1800 - DD Tanks embarked on 'B' Wing Hards and anchored in Solent.  Embarkation continued after dark.

 

4th June 1944

Place: Solent

 

1000 - A quiet night with no enemy air activity.  Operation postponed 24 hours.  Strong breeze and cloudy.

 

5th June 1944

Place: Solent

 

1000 - Strong wind and heavy rain all night, sea rough.  No enemy air activity.  Dispatch boat organisation seems to have broken down, so a dinghy was lowered to take signals round to Regiment's craft.

 

1030 - Weather showed little signs of improvement and a further postponement was expected but HQ Ship, HMS LARGS, heisted the signal "Good Luck, Press On".

 

1200 - DD Sqns' flotilla slipped and sailed behind minesweeping flotilla.

 

1230 Onwards - Assault Flotillas and accompanying craft and escort ships slipped.  Battleships HMS WARSPITE and RAMILLIES, Monitor LORD ROBERTS, Cruiser HMS SCYLLA among others supporting Force S.  Weather still cloudy and fresh breeze.  Sea choppy.

 

1400 - Maps and Operation Orders issued to troops and final briefing carried out.

 

6th June 1944

Place: Normandy, France

 

After 17 hrs sailing in roughish sea the Assault Bns of 8 Inf Bde (1 S Lancs and 2 E Yorks) touched down at H Hour - 0725 hrs with 'A' and 'B' DD Sqns touching down in QUEEN Sector RED and WHITE Beaches at H - 7 mins, with full naval and air support.  Not all DD Tanks were able to swim and some which did were swamped by LCTs.  Opposition on RED Beach was particularly strong, E Yorks suffering heavy casualties.  Beach clearing operations not very successful and considerable delay experienced in getting off the beaches.  R.HQ and 'C' Sqn landed at H + 45 mins on WHITE beach to find beaches still uncleared and considerable shelling and mortar fire encountered.  Eventually by 0900 hrs tanks were able to pass through and marry up with their Inf and enemy defences were mopped up after considerable shelling and sniping from the houses.

 

0930 - 1 S Lancs Regt captured HERMONVILLE-SUR-MER with 'A' Sqn in support - little opposition.

 

1130 - Lieut Coker, with 5 tanks 'B' Sqn began to support 1 SS Bde over onto Bridges at BENOUVILLE over the Canal-de-Caen and the River Orne, which were taken over intact from 6 Airborne Div.  Two 'B' Sqn Tanks knocked out by 88mm south of BENOUVILLE.

 

1200 - 'C' Sqn, with 1 Suffolks captured locality Morries at COLLEVILLE-SUR-ORNE and prepared to support Inf onto locality Hillman mile south.  Enemy in Morris surrendered with white flag 40-50 prisoners.  Considerable opposition from Hillman and progress slow.  First attack failed.

 

1545 - Locality SALE, S.E. of OUISTREHAM captured by 'B' Sqn and 2 E Yorks.  Locality "Daimler" 1 mile S.E. strongly held.  Naval support asked for but could not be given.

 

1600 - 30-40 prisoners surrendered from Sale.

 

1700 - Hillman still intact.  2 Tks of 'C' Sqn knocked out by anti-tank gun.  Staffs Yeo take up position to cover Hillman.  R.HQ in position 1 mile S.E. HERMONVILLE in orchard.

 

1900 - Daimler captured by 'B' Sqn and E Yorks.

 

2000 - Tank State - 'A' - 6; 'B' - 10; 'C' - 13; R.HQ - 3; Recce - 8.  31 Vehicle casualties.

 

2100 - Hillman captured and consolidation begun.

 

2200 - RHQ moved to southern outskirts of Hermanville.  Sqns drawn in to harbour.  Losses inflicted on enemy estimated at - Killed 60, captured 40, two 88mms destroyed, 1 Staff car captured, two m/cs destroyed.  Own casualties; 12 ORs killed, 12 wounded.  Capt Denny, Lts Jennison, Harold, Anderson and Burgess and 78 ORs missing.

 

2300 - General posn.  8 Br Inf Bde with the regt in sp reached all objectives by 2100 hrs, rather later than anticipated.  185 Bde held up on high ground North of Caen.  9th Bde covering flanks against armd threats.  Armour reported to the South and West, probably 21 Pz Div.

 

7th June 1944

Place: Normandy, France

 

0500 - Regt ordered to take up positions round HERMANVILLE to cover approaches from South, South-West, West and North West.

 

0700 - Recce Tp sent out to patrol the road South.

 

0730 - Recce Tp captured 1 PW 3 Bty 21 Pzr Div Arty at PERRIER-SUR-BE-DAN.  Interrogated and evacuated to PW Cage.

 

1000 - Enemy air activity over area - no damage.  The Div is doing a general extension from the Bridgehead South and West.  Enemy tks reported in South.  No further developments.

 

1300 - Docs captured in Hillman identified 736 G.R.  Large number of prisoners surrendered in morning having hidden underground all night.  Regt Comd captured with his car.

 

1530 - Report of enemy heavy tks moving up from South towards bridges at RUGGER and CRICKET (Benouville).  C Sqn sent out immediately to cover positions.

 

1630 - C Sqn reach covering posn North West of Bridges and contacted airborne tps.  Situation very obscure.  One Bn Tks incl Tigers and 1 Bn Pzr Gren reported advancing Northwards astride River but none seen.

 

1700 - B Sqn and R.HQ moved up to strengthen posn south east of St Aubin d'Arquenay.  Rumours rife of Tiger tks breaking through into Bridgehead, parachuting etc.  Considerable 'Flap'.

 

2030 - R.HQ moved to posn just West of Benouville, C & B Sqns covering Bridges.  A Sqn remain at Hermonville.

 

2300 - Considerable sniping in Harbour.  2 Snipers (Stragglers left behind from Coastal Bty posn at OUISTREHAM), captured.  Tried to round up remainder by threatening them and making PW shout to them to come out but without effect.  Further sniper (Pioneer from Riva Bella) caught about 0300 hrs 8 Jun 44.  Personnel and vehicle situation:- No further own casualties.  2 more tks of B Sqn and 2 of C Sqn put on road.  Lieut Jennison and Crew and Capt Denny re-landed and rejoined Regt.  4 PW captured.

 

8th June 1944

Place: Normandy, France

 

0530 - Recce patrols sent out southwards from Benouville and Eastwards across river to report on enemy movement.  Remainder of regt stayed in last night's locations.  Reports came in at intervals during morning about 75mm guns SP and Inf of 21 Pz Div advancing northwards, East of the River Orne, and of Infantry concentrating in large numbers for attack westwards etc.

 

1500 - One sec Recce tp reported engagement with enemy snipers south of Ranville - 3 snipers killed.

 

2000 - Nothing further to report, except slight enemy shelling activity on the Benouville brs.

 

9th June 1944

Place: Normandy, France

 

0930 - Further hy conc enemy arty on brs.

 

1000 - 2 P.W. from Riva Bella coastal bty brought in by C Sqn from the bushes.  Report of further P.W. in the area but nothing discovered after patrol had been sent out.  Dispositions did not change all day, although the regt were prepared to move over to the Hillman posn to cover a possible enemy breakthrough with tks.  After the terrific RAF sp on the previous days, the lack of it today was noticeable and we were visited on several occasions by the Luftwaffe.  Enemy shelling was also prevalent.

 

1500 - A sqn were released from Hermanville and joined C and RHQ at Benouville.

 

2100 - Some difficulty and excitement with foreign refugees and ex German girlfriends in the village, some of whom were removed to civilian Cage.

 

10th June 1944

Place: Benouville

 

0530 - Stick of bombs dropped on RHQ, incl. one D.A. but surprisingly did no damage.

 

0830 - Wounded airman brought in from crashed JU 88 who supplied useful information about German Bomber Bases.

 

1230 - Salvo of enemy shells landed in RHQ area, killing one man in A Sqn and wounding two med orderlies in the RAP.  CO went out to O gp and recce for B Sqn attack in the afternoon.  Very wet day.

 

1600 - Attack commenced.  Consisted of B Sqn and one sec Recce tp in sp of the remainder of 7th and 13th Airborne Bns, from Ranville across the Dropping Zone onto 3 small objectives occupied by Bosche, in order to effect a junction with 3 Para Bde who had been cut off from the rest of the 6 Airborne Div.  All went well and the final objective was reached by 1800 hrs - this however at a cost to us of 4 Shermans and 2 Stuarts, knocked out by A tk gunfire from the woods on the north flank.  Lt Coker wounded and 2 ORs B Sqn killed, Lt Hardy and 7 killed Recce tp, 2 wounded.  27 Arm Bde Comd ordered the withdrawal of our tks after second objective had been reached but those tks who could continue to give sp fire onto the final objective at Le MESNIL.

 

1900 - B Sqn withdrew to previous harbour at St AUBIN D'ARQUENAY.  Over 100 P.W. had been taken and many enemy dead, mostly from 858 Gren Regt of 346 Inf Div, now identified on our Eastern front.  Paratps morale which had been magnificent but was beginning to flag slightly under increasing enemy resistance was much uplifted by the appearance of our tks.

 

11th June 1944

Place: Hermanville

 

0800 - The regt moved to the high ground north of the Perrier sur le Dan feature to take over the hulldown posns of the Staffs Yeomanry to cover a possible Pz breakthrough on 3 div front.

 

1100 - B Sqn moved back to East side of the R Orne and took up posn in the cutting west of Ranville to cover the brs.  One Sqn ERY took its place under our comd.

 

2000 - One tp C Sqn sent to do body guard to C-in-C at GHQ at Creuilly.

 

2200 - No signs of enemy advance, so regt moved back to the reverse slopes and leaguered for the night.

 

12th June 1944

Place: Benouville

 

1000 - Regt ordered to move complete to East Side of R. Orne.  Rommel is now said to be in charge of this sector and to be mounting a counter-attack either on 3 Br Div or directed between them and 3 Cdn Div.  C.O. went off on recce with Brig. Prior-Palmer to choose positions for Sqns to take up.

 

1300 - 'A' Sqn moves across river.

 

1400 - 'C' Sqn, with R.HQ moved to South side of Benouville to harbour.  51 (H) Div and 4 Armd Bde were to have put in an attack swinging onto the S.W. of Caen, but this has been delayed owing to armoured threat on 3 Div front.

 

2200 - 'A' Sqn attacked with Paratps from the North onto Breville and shot the infantry into the village, led by the Div Comd with the Ass Coy.  Enemy Cas considerable, one SP gun (75mm) knocked out and five captured intact.  One tp 'A' Sqn left in support of the infantry at Breville, remainder rallied in harbour West of Ranville.  'B' Sqn attacked with the Black Watch onto the Chateau South of Breville, a most unsuitable task and 3 of our tanks were destroyed.  R.HQ & 'C' Sqn moved across the bridges to harbour West of Ranville.  'B' Sqn rallied in their harbour in the cutting to the North of the road.

 

13th June 1944

Place: Ranville

 

0300 - Liaison maintained with 6 Airborne Div under whose command we now are.

 

0500 - 'C' Sqn at immediate notice to move South in a Counter attack role.  Nothing, however, happened except occasional shelling throughout the day.  Replacement of tks and personnel from FDS worked quite well so far, and we are nearly up to strength.  Build-up to D + 5 has worked according to plan.

 

2230 - Enemy air activity throughout the hours of darkness, succeeded by shelling at first light.

 

14th June 1944

Place: Ranville

 

0400 - No Change.  1 Tp 'C' Sqn still out in observation at Breville.

 

1200 - Contact was made with HQ 51 (H) Div, who are now mostly East of the R. Orne.  Bridgehead E of the River is being adjusted and now stretches from Longueval in the South, westwards to the western strip of the Bois de Bavent, the North to Breville and northwest to the Southern outskirts of Sallanelles.

 

1400 - Recce by Sqn Ldrs of areas for hull down positions and counterattack roles.

 

1600 - 'B' & 'C' Sqns moved forward to fire positions covering DZ and Southern approaches.  Nothing to report.  Quiet night.

 

15th June 1944

Place: Ranville

 

0400 - No Change.

 

1100 - Polish deserter from German army evacuated to PW cage.

 

1400 - Contact made with 3 Commando and 1 SS Bde to gain inf re Breville attack, but little available except confirmation of heavy enemy cas from our supporting fire.

 

1800 - 'A' Sqn move forward to recce southern approaches to HQ 6 Airborne Div for hull down positions.

 

2100 - Shelling attack on Regtl Area.  4 ORs 'A' Sqn wounded.

 

2230 - Enemy bombing and shelling as usual.

 

16th June 1944

Place: Ranville

 

0500 - Sudden concentration of enemy arty fire caused immediate stand-to.  Liaison maintained with 152 (H) Bde under whom 'A' are now in sp.  Danger of enemy attack from the South onto Ranville was expected but the assault however appears to have gone in on Escoville, on the 1 Gordons, who repulsed it.

 

1000 - Another concentration of enemy arty fire on R.HQ.  One OR killed, 3 wounded.  Situation on 152 Bde front unchanged.

 

1100 - One tp of 'A' Sqn with Capt Denny i/c detachment reported to Comd 153 (H) Bde at Le Mesnil to try and cut off enemy withdrawal from Escoville which had been reported.  This was ordered personally by G.O.C. 51 (H) Div and accepted under protest.  We have been frittering away tks and men on such penny packet jobs too long, and few people seem to have any conception of Tank and Infantry co-operation, or the role of the Sherman tank gun as opposed to any other tank.

 

1200 - C.O. went to 153 Bde HQ to contact the Comd and advise him as to the employment of these tks.  A plan was laid on involving our tks in close country S.E. of Escoville.

 

1400 - Lt. Col R.T.G. Harrap returning from this area to Escoville ran into a Mk IV Tk in his Jeep and was killed by M/G fire.  'A' Sqn tks hung on in position with the 1 Gordons, cut off from the rest of the Bde by enemy tks and inf infiltrating northwards.  Their job now completed, several attempts were made to rejoin their Sqn but owing to the presence of 4 mock-up 'Tigers' at close range, decided to remain in position for the night.  Nothing further to report.

 

17th June 1944

Place: Ranville

 

0400 - No change in Tac situation.  Detached tp of 'A' Sqn rejoined us at Ranville.  Major the Earl of Feversham took over Comd of the Regt.  Major A.A.K. Rugge-Price assumed 2 IC.  Capt. P.E.L. Lyon assumed OC 'B' Sqn.  Capt. G.C. Gale, 2nd Capt 'A' Sqn.  Lieuts Peerless, Franks and Downer posted to 'B' Sqn.

 

1430 - Col. Harrap buried in 3 Br Inf Div Cemetery at Coleville.  Bde Comd and Staff, and COs of Staff Yeo and ERY and other reps incl 30 from the regt attended the service at the graveside.  Liaison continued to be made with the 6 Airborne Div, 152 Bde and 1 Cdn Para Bn, who are now in position in our area.  Quiet night.

 

18th June 1944

Place: Ranville

 

0900 - Main residues due in on D + 9 and D + 10 have still not arrived and further build-up has been considerably delayed by bad weather in the channel and enemy shelling of the beaches on Queen Sector, which is still well within enemy arty range.

 

1300 - 'B' Sqn warned to support 154 Bde, (who have now arrived East of the river, making the Highland Division complete), in an attack eastwards towards Bavant, and reconnaissance carried out.  'C' Sqn put in support of 153 Bde at Le Mesnil and tps sub-allotted to Bns to bolster up the defences and the infantry's morale in the close country east of Escoville.  1 Tk damaged by mines.

 

1600 - Intermittent shelling of 'A' Sqn, and R.HQ area.  1 OR 'A' Sqn killed.

 

2000 - 2nd Tp, 'C' Sqn with the 1 Gordons had a skirmish in the wood with some Boshe at close quarters, killing 12, capturing 6 PW and an 8.1cm Mortar, and Knocking out a M/G post.

 

19th June 1944

Place: Ranville

 

0300 - CO and OC 'B' Sqn recced area East of Breville for attack with 154 Bde.  Attack was, however, cancelled owing to the intended re-grouping of the Highland Division to be carried out during the next few days.

 

0900 - GOC 51 (H) Div visited R.HQ and explained situation in this bridgehead.  The Div is re-organising to cover a definite frontage in localities facing south from Longueval excl the Bois de Bavant.  'A' Sqn is to continue in support of 152 Bde, 'C' Sqn to support 154 Bde, who are relieving 153 Bde, which is moving to the area Herouvillette - Ranville, in semi-reserve.  'B' Sqn and R.HQ remain unchanged.

 

1400 - Conference at 'HILLMAN' on points learned so far in the battle, 27 Armd Bde.  Sporadic shelling all evening, less Luftwaffe activity of late.

 

20th June 1944

Place: Ranville

 

No Change.  Recce's for coming attack carried out by 'A' & 'B' Sqns from Longueval and Herouvillette.  Conferences at 51 (H) Div HQ and 152 Bde HQ.

 

1800 - Heavy mortaring on 'A' Sqn area.  1 OR killed.

 

21st June 1944

Place: Ranville

 

0900 - No Change.  The whole regt is now virtually under Comd 51 (H) Div.  Recces continue all day for Operation 'PERTH'.

 

1400 - Enemy shelling of the Bridges area fairly continuous.  5 ORs wounded.  Lieut Aldham hit by unaccountable bullet, temporarily out of action.

 

1600 - Conference with 27 A.B. and Airborne Division.

 

[Remainder of the diary, though the Regiment is officially based at Ranville, concerned solely with actions alongside the 51st Highland Division in the south of the bridgehead.]