|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: 2nd Bn The Royal Ulster Rifles|
|Month and Year: September 1944||(Erase heading not required).||Commanding Officer: Lt. Col. I.C. Harris|
|Area 8514 near CHAPELLE AU MOINE||1||Weather dry but cloudly. CO inspected gas equipment and overcoats of Bn. Parties visited ENSA Consert in FLERS.|
|2||Weather again dull with occasional storms. BN prepared for move to HACQUEVILLE. Bn had baths.|
|5194 HACQUEVILLE||3||Bn moved. Left CHAPPELLE AU MOINE at 330 hrs and arrived at HACQUEVILLE 5194 at 1850 hrs. Weather quiet warm . The distance was about 150 miles.|
|4||Another fine day. Bn commenced trained.|
|5||Bn had a route march. I sec attended short course held at 9 Brit Inf Bde HQ. BN HQ Guard mounted with pipers in attendance for first time in the history of the Bn. Weather fine throughout the day bur rain during the night.|
|6||Bn continued training. Rain during morning and afterwards very windy.|
|7||Stormy during day. Bn training was carried out on a coy and pl basis.|
|8||Another stormy day. Training continued. F sec had night compass march.|
|9||Weather dry and sun. CO inspected vehicles and billets areas. Bn had baths. I sec attended counter mortar course at Bn HQ.|
|10||Weather again fine. Bn held church parades during morning and afterwards had rest day. Parties visited ENSA Concert at GISOrs|
|11||Bn training continued. RSM parade in the afternoon. I sec attended a further counter mortar course. Officers study day, lecture by Brig. Mole. Parties attended cinema at Cisors. Junior NCO's Cadre begun. Weather cloudly but fine.|
|12||Weather again cloudly but remained fine. CO inspected Bn and Bn transport. MO Carried out medical inspection of Bn. visited PARIS.|
|HACQUEVILLE||13||Another dry but cloudly day. Bn and Bn transport inspected by Brig. Browne followed by Bn march past and Brig. Taking the salute. Pipes and drums played for march past and many interested spectators in the village turned out to witness the event.|
|14||Weather still cloudly and dry. Bn continued training . Very quiet day.|
|15||Bn received the the news of move to new location and spent the day in preparation. CO held a conference at 1800hrs. A soccer teaam played an RA eleven and gained an easy victory winning by 6 goals to 1. Weather fine.|
|NAAST nr SOIGNIES 4026||16||Bn made an early start, reveille 500hrs, embussed by 655hrs and passed SP at 730hrs. The route took us through several towns which included, BEAVAIS 9008,of FROISSY 0222, BRETEUIL 0829, AMBERQUART 2749, ALBERT 3669, BAPAUME 5178, CAMBRAI 7885, VALENCIENNES 0104, MONS 3213, and then on to staging area. From ALBERT to MONS people lined the streets of the towns giving us a very warm welcome and presented us with fruit. In some places the crowds which congregated made it rather difficult for the convoy to get through. The staging area at NAAST was reached at 2130hrs after a very interessting journey. A vehicle conveying personnel of A coy was overturned but there were no casualties. The weather was quite fine, rather misty at first but clear by mid morning. Covered 180 miles approx.|
|KOLIS nr LILLE ST HUBERT 412909||17||Another early start. Reveille 400hrs, embussed 540hrs and bde SP passed at 610hrs. The route again included several towns. BRAINE 1e COMTE 4629, NIVELLES 5828, and LOUVAIN 8758. Cheering crowds welcomed us in every town and village, presenting us with coffee and more fruit . Our area was reached at 1530hrs after a journey of 112 miles and the Bn proceeded to dig in. Corps Comd visited Bn HQ at 1810hrs bur CO was at Bde. Weather fine until 1900hrs and then rain throughout the night.|
|18||CO O GP at 1100 hrs and again at 1600hrs. By first light in the morning it was known that 9 Brit Inf Bde would have to do an assault crossing of the ESCAUT CANAL to extend and solidify the bridgehead already made 50 Div some four miles further west. Not until 1300 hrs however did 2 RUR know that the crossing was to be made on the night of 18/19. The tempo of operations had consequently to be stepped and recconaissance and preparation.had to be cut down.
Coy Comds had a restricted view of the canal from a church in LILLE ST HUBERT. In the afternoon Pl Coms had the same view and more detailed recconaissance of the village and canal were carried out by patrols. Lt. Firth of C Coy found his way to the bank and discovered a suitable path from possible assembly areas to bank. Capt. Gaffikin and Capt. Baudains of B Coybput on civilian clothes and toured the area of the canal at their leisure. Both these recconaissances revealed that some 10 - 20 yards on the south side of the canal there was a large ditch some 6ft across which would have to be taken into consideration. Both found it difficult to give information aboutthe enemy on account ofthe steep bank which led up to the canal.
At 1700hrs the CO held a co-ordination conference and gave final orders. The Bn was operating on the left of PETIT-BROGEL - LILLE ST HUBERT road on a two bn front, and within the Bn assault crossing was to be carried out with B Coy right and C Coy left, with A Coy in reserveon the right and D as reserve Coy on the left. Bn HQ was established in a house adjacent to the crossing was to be carried out with a line to each, so that with wireless netteed to each Coy communication would be sufficient to cope with any emergency. The Coys were to use assault boats for the crossing , jeeps and a tk gun the class V raft and more substantial F transport by the class IX, A & B enchelonnwere to wait for the establishment of a class 40 bridge construction of which was the begin as soon as the opposite banks had been cleared of enemy. 2100 hrs.
|for orders refer appendix|
|19||From 7 - 15 to 7 plus 15 a concentration of three divisional artilleries was put down on selected targets on a far side of the canal.The last few minutes of this barrage gave some trouble to B Coy who reported some "shorts" but although these harassed launching operations no casualties were sustained and launching went forward without cease.
By 0055hrs both Coys were able to report a small bridgehead secured and their first objectives gained. Half an hour later B Coy had taken its first two prisoners and C Coy had reported its second objective taken and a section of the Carrier Platoon in position covering the left or open flank of the Coy. Opposition had so far be light, giving the impression that this landing had achieved a fair element ofessential suprise.
At 0205Hrs we heard from 2 Lincson our right that they had three Coys across but were held up from their left flank by fire which was coming from buildings within our area. At the same time C Coy reported that a countter attack was coming in from the left rear. Machine gun fire was coming from the tow path at 150yds range and the enemy closed the range to a distance from which he couldthrow hand grenades.C Coy with the Carrier sections under command produced a vigorous and a swiftly reply to this menace. The strenght of this counter attack was afterwards estimated to be a strong fighting patrol of at least 25 - 30 men, though that manymore were wounded. On our own side, C Coy HQ had suffered, Capt. Laving, the second in command being killed and two men being wounded.
Soon after this attack the Commanding Officer decided to send over D Coy to substantiate C Coy left flank and not to advance to its original objective until daylight. This was achieved without casualtiesand by 400hrs D Coy was able to report itself in position.
Meanwhile a most promising situation was developing on the right. B Coy had made the crossing unscathed, although a hail of machine gun fire had cut the water close to the boats which werre carrying the final platoon , and number of 8.1 cm Mortar shells fell dangerously near the Coy as it moved forward towards its objective. This was a pathway about 200yds inland and it was reached safely with Boche machine guns firing high and wide and mortar shells still dropping close by. Then the Coy struck across country directly was maintained by a compass bearing and thereby the Coy found its objective ans established itself upon it.
Recce patrols were immediately sent north to the railway and south of the village. Both soon returned with confirmation that the Boche was in both places in some strenght. At the same time B Coy began to gather in the fruits of the position built up astride the enemy line of retreat. The first party to be taken was three from a medical section who were evacuating some casualties. They were astonished at being captured here, and could not believe that the were cut off from the rear.
At this stage Capt. Gaffikin spoke to the Commanding Officer over the 18 set explaining the position. He pointed out that B Coy by itself could not clear the village because with enemy in strenght both to north and the south a firm base of the entire coy strenght was essential to retain its present commanding position. But the village had to be cleared and cleared swiftly, since enemy machine guns from there covered the site selected for the class 40 bridge, and the nature and direction of Capt. Gaffikin's advance had made it possible to attack the village from the north instead of incurring heavy casualties which a frontal or flank attack would have caused.
At 0345hrs on the oreder of the Commanding Officer A Coy crossed the canal. One casualty was sustained by mortar fire but no accurate fire was brought down to hinder. Guides from B Coy were met at the other side and they guided major Sweeney MC OC A coy, his Coy to B's position. The two Coy Comds quicly conferred and deceided that A Coy should cear the village while B Coy remained firm based upon its objective.
It was 0530hrs before Lt. Betty, in command of A Coy's leading platoon, began to move towards the village: the light had begun to break though it was obscured by the same ground mist that has risen the night before. Straight away five Germans emerged from a ditch and ten more came out of the first house taken taken on by the platoon, though in this case only after a lively exchange of fire.
This position was hardly in hand before the sound of horse drawn transport was heard approching from the direction of the vilage . Suddenly two cart loads of Germans, with a varied assortiment of weapons and foo] appeared, and they were promptly engaged by Lt. Betty's platoon at short range. The enemy displayed the agility of desperation and brought his weapons into action with remarkable speed. A brief fire fight took place our men soon made their superiority felt; and the result was clinched by a hand grenade from the PL Sjt. Peel, witch finally caused the surrender of the party.
The rest of the village was combed and about ten more prisoners were produced. Among the last party was a sapperof 3 Div who had been captured the precious evening of reconaissance, e was able to describethe bewilderment of the Germans in the village when they discovered that their escape route was cut off.
|ACHEL||20||Cos conference at 1000hrs. Bn moved to ACHEL at 1500hrs. 11 Armd Div began crossing bridge 0930hrs. Lt. Gen. O'Connor arrived at Bn HQ at 1210hrs and left at 1315hrs. Weather quite fine.|
|5103 MAARHEZE||21||COs Conference 0900hrs. Recce party left 0815hrs for HAMONT 4798 and at 1300 received instructions to proceed on to MAARHEZE 5103. BN Transport arrived at 1600hrs and marching personnel 1700hrs, this move took us over the border from Belgium into Holland . Brig 9.1.B arrived 1915hrs. Weather was quite fine.|
|22||CO held conference 0900hrs. Weather rather stormy. A soccer match was played between D Coy and a local eleven, DCoy winning by 8 goals to 3. The pipe band played before the game and during the interval and after the match were followed through the village by delighted spectators.|
|23||Weather again rather wet. COs conference at 0930hrs. Advance party left at 1045hrs for area 5910 DE KIVEL. It was learned at 1700 hrs that Bn move was postponed.|
|24||Weather still stormy. No move likely before 1300hrs followed by the news that no move would take place before 25. Advance party still in area 5910.|
|6520 DEURNE||25||Advance party left area 5910 at 0700hrs for 6520 DEURNE. Bn left MAARHEEZE in transport at 0715hrs, arriving new loction 1130: three prisoners were brought in during the day, two by Coy A and one by C Coy. A Coy discovered through civilian sources that two Germans were lying in a house. Piat fire was directed onto the house in question which immediatly resuted in one German rushing out giving himself up. OC A Coy then went into the house and discovered the second German somewhat panick stricken by the Fiat fire. During the evening the pipe band played in the town causing great interest amongst the civilians who heartily applauded the bands effort. Weather again stormy.|
|26||Continuous rainthroughout night with occasional storms during morning. CO held conference 0930hrs. Bn had a bath day. A patrol of coy strenght provided by A Coy left their area at 1315hrs and proceeded along line of railway were enemy in huts were encountered at 704184 and on far banknof canal 708177. Coy came under MG fire which covered kine of approach along railway. OC A Coy proceeded forward to canal and observed enemy positions more closely from house 706180. At 1830hrs one platoon came forward under cover to canal, followed by two remaining platoons but were very pinned down by MG fire. on far banks of canal running south from 708139 were a numberr of concrete pill boxes with line of fire running North and South along the bank of the canal. Major Sweeny MC believed railway bridge to be intact was unable to see canal bridgewhich has been reported by civilians as destroyed. Coy began to withdraw at 1915 hrs and were clear of bridge by 1930hrs, reformed and returned by bounds back to Coy area. Major Sweeney's impression was that the patrol was an ideal exercise qnd fieldcraft very good,. Coy getting within 150 yds of enemy position without detection. A second patrol went out from B Coy to areas 669202, 697208, and 691190 but revealed no enemy.|
|27||COs conference 0900hrs. Two enemy fighteers flew high over town at 1205hrs and were fired on by AA. B Coy sent patrol to area 7018 leaving at 1245hrs and returning at 1915hrs. Patrol was fired on by MG at 704184, enemy then appeared to withdraw and no more opposition was encountered. Occasional morat bombs fell at 683183. Civilian reports received stated that both canal bridges were blown. Weather fair during day and rain at night.|
|28||COs conference 0900hrs. A patrol of Coy strenght provided by D Coy left at 1315hrs for area 7018. Patrol proceeded along line of railway to level crossing 700182 arriving at 1405hrs. It was suspected that enemy were occupying two houses at 706181 and at 1430hrs were fired on by a tk gun setting them on fire. At 1435hrs a platoon advanced to burning houses and found a dead German who had been shot by one of our snipers. At 1440hrs spasmodic small arms fire appeared to be coming from second of the burning houses which eventually died down at 1552hrs enemy mortar bombsbegan to fall. Our OP which was in house 695181 estimated that three mortars were firing. Coy withdrew at 1700hrs returning by bounds back to Coy area, mortaring having continued throughout the afternoon causing us six casualties, four of whom were evacuated. Weather was fair with occasional storms.|
|BAKEL 6124||29||Bn moved to BAKEL 6124. Advance party left 0600hrs arriving 0625hrs. Marching personnel left 0730hrs arriving 0910hrs. A presbytarian service was held at 1600hrs and a RC service held in the local church at 1730hrs. News was receivedat 2100hrs that Bn would be atone hours notice from first light 30th to return to DEURNE. Weather was cold and occasional stoms.|
|30||CO held conference 0900hrs. American armd coln began to pass through at first light. Advance party at half hour notice from 1630hrs. Party left for Div Club at 0930hrs. In the afternoon Bn heard that it would not move until 1200hrs 1 Oct. Recce parties left for new location at BEERS 685492.|
Helaas geen map gevonden.
Source: Jeroen Koppes, TracesOfWar.com, transcribing: Theo Vervoort.
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.