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Instructions regarding War Diaries and Intelligence Summaries are contained in F.S. Regs., Vol. 1. and the Staff Manual respectively Title pages will be prepared in manuscript.

Army Form C.2118
Unit: 152nd Infantry Brigade
Month and Year: September 1944 (Erase heading not required). Commanding Officer: Brig. A.J.H. Cassels
Place Date Hour Summary Reference
LE LANDIN 1   Early in the morning reports were received that the territory North of the River Seine had been evacuated. In view of this it became obvious that teher was no need for 152 Inf Bde to deploy North of ROUEN to protect the remainder of 51 (H) Div crossing the R Seine. Bde Comd went to Hq 51 Div to receive orders for a bolder advance towards the coast of ST VALERY. As a result of this conference 152 Bde Gp (for composition see O O. No. 7) was directed on to DOUDEVILLE and the area to the North of FULTOT and the X-rds to the North of FULTOT and in the absence of enemy opposition 5 Seaforths were directed on to VEULLES DES ROSE to the East of St VALERY. At 115 hrs Bde Comd called Bde O Gp and gave orders for this additional adv for which the order of march remained the same. 1300 hrs was the Div H hour for the adv to begin and dead on time 2 Derby Yeo crossed the S.P. at BOURG ACHARD closely followed by 5 Seaforths Gp at 1430 hrs. From that btime to 2130 hrs when the last of the Bde Gp was finally got under way the units comprising the Bde Gp were packed on to the rd as quickly as possible the whole aim being to get the whole gp on the move and allow it to reduce density once across the Seine at ELBE. Meanwhile North of the adv continued rapidly, and by 2200 hrs 5 Seaforths had reached VEULLES DES ROSE and by 0300 hrs the tail of the Bde was past the Bde Dp and in posns allocated. No enemy resistance was met during the whole adv but the reception given tps of the Bde along the route was worth of note. It seemed that the entire population of such towns as ROUEN, BARENTIN, PAVILLY and DOUDEVILLE turned out to welcome our tps and to cheer them on their way. By the time the Bde reached its objectives the tps were in super fettle. Appx D - 1
SOUTH OF ST VALERY 2   Patrols from 5 Seaforth reached ST VALERY in the morning. A further strong patrol was sent out by 5 Camerons to ST VALERY. This patrol reached the town about 1000 hrs. Many mines were encountered in ST VALERY but no enemy. Re's and Pioneers of 5 Seaforth set about clearing a route through the town to permit West to East traffic. Bde Comd visited 5 Seaforth at 0930 hrs and went to ST VALERY accompanied by Co of that Bn. At 1100 hrs orders were received from 51 Div to conc the Bde in area South of ST VALERY. The move was completed by 1600 hrs. It was a historic day for 152 Bde. The Bde was back in ST VALERY again after four years. Some of the vehs belonging to 152 Bde in 1940 were seen on the roadside between VEULLES DES ROSE and ST VALERY. Practically all that was left of said vehs was the Stagshead Crest on the Highland Bde colours. The vehicle sign of the Div at that time. Appx I -1
INGOUVILLE 3   The whole Bde was concentrated and at rest. Drum Head services were held by units to commemorate the fallen of the former 152 Bde and the massed pipes of the Div beat retreat at Hq 51 (H) Div at 1600 hrs. Even so the Bde was not to be left in such memories long for at 1900 hrs orders were received to conc the Bde Gp North of LE HAVRE prior to an assault theron. Appx D - 2
LE MARE COUBERT 4   Orders for the move of the Bde were issued. 5 Camerons leading the Bde coln crossed the S.P. at 0800 hrs and the move was completed by 1600 hrs. The Bde Gp was disposed as per Appx. At 1900 hrs Bde Comd attended conference at Div relating to future ops. No firm orders could be given at this juncture as the Bde role in the assault on LE HAVRE was not yet definite. Appx J - 7
5   Bde Comd called a conference of Co's and gave them the roughoutline of the Bde role in said assault and thereafter made a recce of the area of future ops. Appx J - 1
6   A signal offr from Hms Erebus camped beside Bde Hq. He was given targets for his ships big guns to engage. Some of the targets were engaged but unfortunately enemy coastal guns replied and damaged Erebus which had to put into port for repairs. Appx J - 2
LE MARE COUBERT 7-10   Meanwhile plans were being made for the attack on LE HAVRE. A frontal assault on the Northern defs of LE HAVRE by 51 Div was never considered it being rightly assumed that such an attack would be playing too much into enemy hands as he had spent four years building defs to meet an attack from this direction. The broad intention was to get inside the anti-tank ditch just West of MONTIVILLIERS and roll up the Northern defs from the East before launching an attack against the city, and the inlying parts thereof. 49 Div was to deal similarly with the Eastern defs of LE HAVRE making an entry just West of MONTEVILLIERS and rolling them up from the North. Def overprints and air phs showed that such a line of attack would take the enemy strongpts from the weakest side. D Day for the attack was to be 9 Sep but this was postponed to 10 Sep as bad weather delayed the air bombardment programme. Meanwhile details of the ground plane were worked out during a long series of conferences interspersed among concentrated liaison with individual comds. French civilian sources of infm were prolific but not always accurate which was largely due to the lack of military knowledge of these sources and also to the fact that much of such infm was about eight days old. This infm was amassed and where it agreed with air phs was taken as additional confirmation. Enemy deserters and Pw provided the best infm so much so that by D Day a complete and detailed picture of these strongpts which 5 Seaforth and 5 Camerons were to attack was available. It was proposed to use flame-throwers during the op and a training team was loaned to the Bde to instr in their use. The scale of issue of flamethrowers was twelve Lifebouys and three Wasps per Bn. The composition of the Bde Gp for op Astonia is shown in Appx Sq 141 Rac and Sqn Avre u/c 152 Bde had a practice gapping exercise night of 9/10 Sep this was attended by Bde Comd, Bn Co's and Bm. The Bde Gp was conc per Oo No. A Tcp manned by the Staff Capt was set up to control mov fwd from the assembly area. Appx I - 2; Appx D - 3; Appx J - 3; Appx J - 4; Appx J - 5
LE HAVRE 11   H hour for 152 Bde was 2359 and at that time 5 Seaforth marchin personnel were to cross the Bde S.L. However owing to very hy going it was arranged that 5 Seaforth should cross 15 mins earlier to give them plenty of time to form up for their attack. It had originally been arranged that 5 Seaforth marching tps plus five vehs would use one of the gaps in the minefd made by 49 Div. Just before H hour it was learned that the gap wich 5 Seaforth intend using was fit only for marching personnel but that that the gap immediately East was fit for vehs. Permission was obtained from 56 Bde (49 Div) to use this second gap but it was afterwards learned that neither gaps were fit for vehs and would not be for two hrs. Meanwhile 5 Seaforth crossed the minefd and proceeded to their F.U.P. for the attack. The F.U.P. was shelled heavily which shelling delayed the start of one coy by about 10 mins. The barrage programme was scheduled to start at 0040 hrs. Comns between 5 Seaforth and the fwd coys became sketchy owing to the Bn Hq wireless being held up on the home side of the gap by uncompleted gaps. at 0100 hrs 5 Seaforth reported that the attack had started and from that time until 0243 hrs now news of progress was received. At 0243 hrs 5 Seaforth reported that leading coy had met no opposition and that the second two coys had passed through on way to final bn objectives. Meanwhile the minefd gapping parties on the bde front had commenced ops. Check pts on the lanes of adv of the gapping parties had been lit to within 300 yds of the anti tk ditch but despite these the gapping parties did not arrive at the A Tk ditch until 0050 hrs or thereabouts. Gin gap was eventually completed about 0430 hrs though it was ready to take marching personnel about 0400 hrs. The other two gaps converged into each other. Rum gap was eventually able to take vehs at 0435 hrs. The Bde Comd had ordered 5 Camerons to move fwd from assembly Area on receipt of news from 5 Seaforth that leading coy had met no opposition and second coys had passed through. This was at 0243 hrs and from that time until 0410 hrs. 5 Camerons were delayed owing to gaps not being ready for them. 275 Fd Coy were ordered to move up to gaps at 0225 hrs. The gaps were subjected to hy shelling which delayed their progress even further and in addition many flails were killed by mines which had been burried sufficiently to inocculate them against the flail but which were detonated by the weight of the tk. All this delayed the completion of the gaps which were vital to the whole op. At 0410 hrs the marching personnel of 5 Camerons began to pass through. The gaps at this time were very heavily shelled so much so that the coy 5 Camerons which had crossed the a tk ditch along with the remainder of the bn on the home side of the ditch was held up and did not really get going until 0600 hrs. Coc 51 Div decided to dend 1 Gordons through after 5 Camerons marching personnel in order to exploit the enemy withdrawal. 1 Gordons were given clear road through to the gaps by pushing all vehs 5 Camerons and 5 Seaforth off the rd leading to the gaps. 5 Camerons were ordered to move fwd as hard as possible in order to give 1 Gordons space to get through. 1 Gordons were to use Gin gap and 5 Camerons Rum. by 0615 hrs 5 Camerons marching personnel were almost all through and their vehs were going through Rum gap. 2 Seaforths were ordered fwd from the assembly area to an area immediately behind Bde Hq. From this time onward the op went with great swing. Enemy resistance was almost nil and as soon as our tps appeared about to attack they displayed white flags and came out of the posns, after firing in some cases only a few shots. 2 Seaforth were ordered fwd behind tpt of 5 Seaforth and were told to get through the gaps before first light if possible. 2 Seaforth did not in actual fact manage to do this, as they were held up by the tpt of 5 Seaforth. 5 camerons reported a firm Champagne at 0810 hrs and that they were exploiting to Vermouth. Mines still constituted the only obsticle to rapid progress but these were cleared by 275 Fd Coy with the help of bn pioneers. At 1058 hrs 5 Camerons reported Vermouth. By this time 2 Seaforth coln had become very stretched as the marching tps were through the gaps and on their first objective before their tpt began to move through the gaps. This did not delay the progress of the inf who had completed Phase 1 by 1109 hrs and were ready to begin Phase 2. By 1200 hrs 2 Seaforth were on final objectives and had begun to exploit towards DOUDEVILLE. This exploitation did not actually begin until 1420 hrs by which time 5 Camerons had started exploitation in same direction and had to be restrained to give 2 Seaforth a free hand. Meanwhile many Pw were coming in. Frech patriots were of great assistance in following up our tps and escorting Pw back to their own cages. It was clear to everyone long before now that the enemy did not intend to make any stand at all that remained to be done was to comb out the area for P.W. The sole enemy hostile action on the Bde front after 1100 hrs consisted of a few shells and a burst or two of Mg fire. At 1455 hrs a directive was received from Goc 51 Div to exploit to the sea within the bdys laid down. Bde comd was fwd when this directive was received and he ordered 5 Camerons and 2 Seaforth to fresh objectives and gave Er Yeo the tast of exploiting to the Sea and also of shooting the inf of 2 Seaforth and 5 Camerons on to their new objectives which were Chess and Bridge respectively. By 1501 hrs 2 Seaforth were entering DOUDEVILLE and were soon preparing to move on Chess. This they did and by 1740 hrs were half way through Chess though they reported being shelled thereon. This shelling ceased about 1900 hrs and by 2100 hrs 2 Seaforth quite firm on Chess and had one sqn Er Yeo sitting along side them. So far no enemy hostility was encountered from OCTEVILLE. 5 Camerons moved to Bridhe and were firmly set there by 2130 hrs. 5 Seaforth moved to MONT TROTIN area about 2100 hrs and were est there at 0030 with tpt in posn. B.M. went to div at 1900 hrs and Goc then ordered that further exploitation to OCTEVILLE and ECQUEVILLE should not take place until morning 12 Sep and that he was content to have 2 Seaforth and 5 Camerons firm on Chess and Bridge until then. Verbal orders received by B.M. were confirmed at 2150 hrs by Hq 51 Div.
12   Bde Comd went fwd early to visit bns and direct mopping up ops. Tanks moved off towards area between OCTEVILLE and the sea whilst 2 Seaforth proceeded to invest OCTEVILLE itself which was cleared by 1300 hrs the garrison giving itsef up like the rest of the enemy so far encountered. The main task still remaining to be done was to open up the main rd North from OCTEVILLE. 275 Fd Coy set about this and by 1517 hrs reported that portion of it clear between EDREVILLE and OCTEVILLE. Clearing continued but was not finished by last light. 275 Fd Coy were ordered to clear this rd first thing on 13 Sep as the Bde were to move North out of the LE HAVRE area starting at 1200 hrs using this rd.
ST JOUIN 13   The move of 152 Inf Bde Gp North from LE HAVRE was completed by 1800 hrs for location see Appx. During the assault on LE HAVRE the Bde took 1824 Pw which were counted through Bn Hqs and probably some 200 more were sent back without being counted. 2 Seaforth had the record Bn total for the Div of 1244 certainties and about 200 more probables. The cost in cas to the Bde was Offrs 2 and 4, Ors 21 and 55. Bde Comd attended a Div conf at 1800 hrs dealing with trg policy for ensuing 7 -10 days which policy was passed on to Bn Comds at 2100 hrs.
ST JOUIN 14-18   This period was utilised by Bde in useful trg. Much fd firing was done by all units with all weapons. Route marches and games kept the men fit - cinemas, concert parties and leisure hours kept them happy. Appx I - 3
ST JOUIN 18   At 1000 hrs Bde Comd held an O Gp with 5 Camerons and 275 Fd Coy Re dealing with course of exercise Barra IV, and Bde Comd took umpires for Barra IV over course at 1400 hrs. Appx D - 4
ST JOUIN 19   A small Bde Hq moved out into ex area at 1900 hrs. 5 Cams and 275 Fd Coy Re were concd by last light. Four armd cars from 2 Derby Yeo which were to act as Tcps on routes to minefield gaps and at the gaps moved with Bde Hq. At 2230 hrs 5 Camerons crossed the S.L. and by 0045 hrs were on all objectives. Taping and lighting of traffic lanes to coy areas within 5 Camerons area was very successful. Meanwhile 275 Fd Coy Re were moved up to minefd and commenced gapping ops by 2310 hrs. Two lanes were cleared through minefd a tk ditch was blown in two places, fascines laid and road across ditch bull-dozed and the two minefd gaps lit by 0215 hrs. Tpt 5 Camerons was then called fwd from veh marshalling area and was in posn with respective coys by 0310 hrs when Cease Fire was given for the exercise.
ST JOUIN 20   The object of the exercise was to get the drill for such an op completely taped which object was attained. New points in the drill were:-
20   a - Two Re recce parties went with fwd coys to look for and report back information about unknown minefds lying between the minefd covering the A Tk ditch, dimensions of which were known, and the final inf objectives.
20   b - Two Re recce parties went with fwd coys to recce routes through known minefds taken by inf coys and to alter them if the such routes were not fit for wheels.
20   c - A Tcp wireless net was set up with stations at (1) Veh marshalling area (2) two Tcp on routes to minefd gaps (3) two Tcps at minefd gaps and (4) Control at Bde Hq.
20   d - Line was laid t S.L. by Bde Sig Sec was picked up there by 5 Camerons and taken fwd with inf coys.
20   e - No movement of vehs was allowed on rds from Veh Marshalling Area to gaps until gaps were announced clear by Res.
ST JOUIN 20-21   Trg was again resumed by all units of the Bde. A conf of 2 i/cs was called at 1430 hrs 21 Sep and trg areas for units were laid down. This was necessary owing to increased scope of trg and fd firing.
ST JOUIN 22   Ntr
ST JOUIN 23   The responsibilities hitherto held by 154 Inf Bde in LE HAVRE were taken over by 152 Bde. This entailed guarding Pw cage at HARFLEUR and certain installation in the town itself. One Coy 5 Seaforth was sent into LE HAVRE for this purpose. Appx I - 4; Appx D - 5
ST JOUIN 24   Ntr
ST JOUIN 25   5 Camerons started a three-day exercise in which individual platoons with dets of sp Coy maintained themselves and found shelter for three days, marching and training intensively during the period of the exercise.
ST JOUIN 26   Comd and Bm attende a conference called by Goc 51 (H) Dic dealing with the move of the Division to a conc area Se of ANTWERP and probable ops in which the Division would be engaged in the near future. Anaother night exercise was carried out by 2 Seaforth in order to practice the drill of attacking an enemy fortified posn through a minefd and over an anti-tk ditch. This exercise was on the same lines as that carried out by 5 Camerons on night 19/20 Sep with the exception that the 275 Fwd Coy Re was not represented on the ground. Exercise ended at 0130 hrs. Appx D - 6
ST JOUIN 27   Movement Order No 4 went to press and Signals. Appx D - 7
ST JOUIN 28   Bde Comd called a conference at 0930 hrs to implement Movement Order No 4. Tpt which had been withdrawn temporarily from 152 Bde for Rasc purposes whilst Bde was in rest returned.
ST JOUIN 29   Packing and last minute maintenance was completed in readiness for journey,
30   The harbouring parties of the Bde Gp started off at 0615 hrs. This was done in order to have sufficient time to sign route where required, and to recce staging areas. The Bde Gp crossed S.P. a little behind time as shown on Mov Table and consequently did not arrive in staging area until about 1600 hrs. Bde Gp was settled in staging area by 1700 hrs. Day's journey was 88 miles. The biggest part of the Bde Gp were able to get under cover of buildings for the night though some personnel of 5 Camerons had to sleep ip tpt. For locations night 30 Sep/1 Oct see Appx. Int log sheets are attached as Appx J - 6. Appx I - 5

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Source: Jeroen Koppes, TracesOfWar.com, transcribing: Pim van Gelder.

Disclaimer: This War Diary is based on its original, but typos might be corrected. Locations are calculated, so might not be in the correct place. For historical research, always check the originals.