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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: 2nd Battalion, The Devonshire Regiment
Month and Year: September 1944 (Erase heading not required). Commanding Officer: Lt. Col. Sir J.G. Carew-Pole
Place Date Hour Summary Reference
FRANCE 1   Orders came through to continue the journey and at 0600 hrs we started off again through CHAUMONT EN VEXIEN 7490 and on through AMIENS 0958 and just beyond to come to rest west of QUERRIEU 1962.
1 1800 We arrived at 1800 hrs and at 2100 hrs we were warned to be at sixty minutes readiness to move as a 'Battalion Group' on to the outskirts of ARRAS, 4799.
1   We soon had the order to move, and we started our journey again at 2230 hrs to cover a distance of 25 miles at night to be ready to take over from the Guards Armoured at first light the next morning. Parties of the enemy were suspected to be on our route which took us over minor roads and across country, since the main road through ALBERT was not yet completely clear.
2 0415 However, we reached the outskirts of ARRAS without incident at 0415 hrs and our arrival was reported immediately to The 5th Guards Armoured Brigade.
2 0630 At 0630 hrs the Companies moved independently into ARRAS and took up positions covering the North and East of the town, awaiting the arrival of the rest of 231 Infantry Brigade.
2   The Enemy had left ARRAS the previous day, and the population was overjoyed to see us. The Battalion witnessed some remarkable spectacles in the town notably the treatment of women 'Collaborators' who suffered the indignity of being marched through the town under escort and then having their hair cut from their heads. In the evening we were warned to moVe on the following day, still in the wake of the Guards Armoured Division, who were now directed on BRUSSELS.
3 1050 At 1050 hrs we were again on the move and at 1200 hrs we were warned by the Guards Armoured Division that they had met opposition at MONT MARCQ and our assistance might be needed. In due course we arrived on the scene of the battle. 'A' and 'B' Companies had unfortunately bypassed the battle area, and bY the time the Commanding Officer had liaised with the Squadron Leader on the spot, 'A' and 'D' Companies were some miles away, and 2 D.R., was dispatched immediately to stop them and bring them back.
3   The picture as given to the Commanding Officer, was:- That the leadinig troop of the Squadron had been fired on by 6 88 mm anti-tank guns and five tanks had been hit and knocked out. The motor Company had then been committed and had successfully knocked out five of the anti-tank guns, an S.P. gun, several transports, and captured 200 prisoners.
3   Part of the of village of PONT A MARCQ had been cleared and a large factory building to the east captured. The enemy had however withdrawn to a wood north west of the village and was still fighting back from that area.
3   The Commanding Officer had at his immediate disposal 'C' and 'D' Companies, and having made a Recce, ordered 'C' Company to clear the outskirts of the village and enter the village itself. 'D' Company remained in reserve.
3   In the meantime both 'A' and 'B' Coys had returned and while 'C' Company was carrying out its task a mobile column of the enemy was seen to be moving on a road parallel to the one on which the rest of the Brigade convoy was then halted. The distance between them and us was 2,000 yards. The gunners immediately went into action and their fifth shot blew up the leading vehicle which halted the rest of the column. The gunners were firing over open sights, and dealt with the remainder of the column in very swift fashion, and knocked out 2 S.P. guns and 10 other transport vehicles. 'A' and 'B' Companies captured 100 prisoners from these vehicles and 'C' Company captured 38 prisoners from their operation. The enemy were originally a battle group from a Panzer Grenadier Regiment from 248 Division,
3 1730 and by 1730 hrs had been liquidated and the route through to the Belgian border cleared. The Dorsets were still behind us and it was decided to let them pass through and we would follow as soon as possible.
3 2030 At 2030 hrs we moved off again on to GENECH for the night - a village about 10 miles on and six miles from the Belgian border.
3 2230 The route there was extremely tricky and it was well after dark when we reached it.
3   On arrival it was found that part of an American Armoured Avision was there. They had laid mines for their own protection and when we arrived lifted them for us to pass through. When we reached the last minefield which had been lifted and stacked on the side of the pavement, by a most unfortunate accident a wire attached to one of the mines caught up in the wheels of the second T.C.V., to pass through and exploded. No blame could be attached to any-one it was a very unfortunate incident resulting in 3 men killed and 21 wounded. 2 T.C.Vs burnt out and 1 badly damaged.
4 0730 The Battalion continued into its harbour area by a diversion and plans were made to continue the journey the following morning at 0730 hrs.
BELGIUM 4 0840 We crossed the Belgian border at 0840 hrs and joined the main ORCHIES TOURNAI road. We passed through TOURNAI at 0930 hrs and again the welcome was terrific. It seemed that the Belgians had brought out all their garden produce for us and every vehicle was soon laden with apples, pears, plums, and flowers; beer was also provided. After TOURNAI we turned off once again and our route took us across country and just before we reached LESSINES we were informed that we should continue straight through to BRUSSELS. Our route took us through HERNE and to the outskirts of ENGHIEN where we turned North East and came on the main BRUSSELS NINOVE road.
4 1600 At 1600 hrs the Battalion halted in the suburbs of BRUSSELS, and the Brigadier gave orders for the Brigade to move in. The 2nd Devons were to be in the very centre of the tovm covering the main exits. Such was the welcome that we got when we reached there, that it was not until after 2200 hrs that companies were able to organise themselves into defensive positions. It seemed for BRUSSELS at any rate that the war had been forgotten, and the population was bent on giving British troops as good a time as possible.
4   Mid-night: By mid-night Companies were properly established in their positions and the BRUSSELS population continued their riotous merry making.
5 0630 At 0630 hrs orders were received for the 2nd Battalion, The Devonshire Regiment to move at once to ANTWERP, to give assistance to 159 Brigade.
5 1050 It was not until 1050 hrs however that the Battalion was able to move with a troop of tanks from the Guards Armoured Division to escort us.
5   The remainder of 231 Infantry Brigade stayed in BRUSSELS.
5 1430 The Devons arrived on the outskirts of ANTWERP at 1430 hrs, and we then came under command of 159 Brigade. Our immediate job was to mop-up in the HOBOKEN area, South and West of ANTWERP itself.
5 1800 'B' 'C' and 'D' Companies were despatched to do this and by 1800 hrs reported their area clear and that no enemy had been found. Patrol from 'C' and 'D' Companies covered the River SCHELDT during the night.
5   The night was quiet except for occasional rifle shots fired by the enemy from the other bank of the river.
6   Early in the morning Major Browne 2nd-in-Command took Recce parties from Companies preparatory to taking over positions from 5th Monmouthshires who were going to push on beyond the town to the North West during the night. In order to do this we were asked to provide 2 Companies to come under command of the 5th Monmouthshires - One Company 'D', to go out and take up positions on an all important lock gates at the most westerly end of the docks and by road 3 miles from the centre of the town and about 2 miles from the next nearest British troops. It was essential that these lock gates should be defended because were they to be destroyed the whole of the rest of the dock works would collapse, and rebuilding would take 20 years.
6   The other Company 'B' were to take part in the Monmouth attack and their job was to be, to take an isolated block of flats to the North of the town, and about 700 yards out. The whole key to the situation was bridges and docks and the enemy had to be prevented from doing more damage than he had already. He had successfully blown a number of bridges, others had been left standing complete. He had already attempted to blow 'D' Companies Iock gates, but had not been entirely successful, and the water was still held. It was expected that the enemy would make another attempt to blow the lock gates, and as 'D' Company moved up to re-inforce the Monmouthshires a counter-attack on this position was already in full swing. 'D' Company arrived in time to drive the enemy back and by dark were on one side of the lock gates and the enemy on the other.
6 2345 The lock gates were still intact and the enemy later withdrew, and by 2345 hrs 'D' Company supported by 1 Sec Anti-tank and 1 sec M.M.Gs and 1 Sec 3 Mortars, reported all was under control.
6   Just after mid-night 'B' Company now under command of the Monmouthshire moved towards their forming up place and by now the remainder of the Battalion had moved up and were in positions vacated by the 5th Monmouthshires for their attack. 'A' and 'C' Companies were both in the dock area, and were principally defending bridges. During the whole of this time, the enemy had been crossing the river SCHELDT about four miles up the river from ANTWERP. He was crossing by means of boats carrying about 300 men at a time and was making a regular ferry service of it. This was his main escape route out of BELGIUM into HOLLAND and although he could be seen crossing from 'D' Company's position we could do nothing about it.
6   The crossing was out of range of our 25 pdrs and aircraft support which had been asked for had not arrived by the time darkness fell, and by then it was too late for accurate bombing and straffing.
7   By dawn the next day 'B' Company was reported to have successfully captured its block of flats, and 'D' Company reported a total absence of enemy in the immediate neighbourhood of the lock gates. The enemy still had some heavy and some 88 mms guns, and with these he fired at ANTWERP intermittently.
7   The Belgian Forces of the Interior were of invaluable service to us and had provided guides and information with great willingness.
7 1200 Since the Monmouthshires had finished their job we now asked for the return of 'B' Company to our command, and this was duly done and by mid-day we were working again as a composite Battalion, and under command of 231 Infantry Brigade, having been divorced from them for nearly 48 hours.
7   We were well settled into ANTWERP now and were ready for any counter-attack. The night passed without undue incident.

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Source: Hans Houterman.

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.