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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 Bn The Royal Ulster Rifles
Month and Year: June 1944 (Erase heading not required). Commanding Officer: Lt. Col. I.C. Harris
Place Date Hour Summary Reference
WATERLOOVILLE 1   Bright sunny day devoted to preparation for impending operations. Organised Inter-Company Football matches in afternoon, remainder of day devoted to rest.
GOSPORT 3   Loading of LCTs took place the evening at GOSPORT. The weather was again bright and sunny. LCTs sailed and moored off SOUTHSEA.
SOUTHSEA 4   LCI parties proceeded from WATERLOOVILLE for loading at SOUTHSEA but returned to Camp A7 at WATERLOOVILLE, loading having been postponed for 24 hrs owing to bad weather conditions.
5   LCI parties embarked during the morning at SOUTHSEA and moored off SOUTHSEA. Instead of the expected high tension in face of such a mighty undertaking the feelings appeared to be calm, as if yet another of the many exercises on similar lines was about to take place. Food on board was very satisfactory, fresh vegetables and bread being supplied to augment the “Compo” rations.
5 1730 LCTs slipped their moorings and headed for the open sea, followed later by the LCIs(L).
6   The journey across was uneventful, the sea being comparatively calm until approximately two hours before the landing, when it became rather choppy and made a number of people seasick, though tablets to prevent this had been issued which proved a great help to some. The huge convoy of which the Battalion was part, and the enormous number of Allied Aircraft seen making for the Continent kept spirits buoyant. Just before the convoy turned inwards to the shore, German coastal batteries opened fire and shells fell in the convoy; this delayed the landing slightly whilst the assault brigade put them out of action.
LION-SUR-MER (France) 6 1200 At 1200 hrs the Landing Crafts infantry containing the Battalion touched down on the beach of NORMANDY at LION SUR MER, slightly West of OUISTREHAM, a wide sandy beach fringed with sand dunes. Here the Battalion caught first sight of the enemy as batches of snipers with hands over their heads were being rounded up from the houses and sand dunes lining the beach. By this time the sea had developed a considerable swell. The Battalion was well used to wet landings when carrying out exercises, but this was without doubt the wettest on record, most people landing in at least four feet of water and many in as much as five and a half feet. The majority became soaking wet from the top of their heads. Although the beaches had been almost cleared of the enemy, hostile shells and mortar bombs were falling in fair quantities. Consequently, even though the Battalion formed part of the reserve brigade in the Assault Division, the landing was made very difficult and uncomfortable. Many of the Riflemen being small in size were finding it difficult to get ashore, particularly in view of the fact that over and above their normal kit - heavy enough - they were each carrying a bicycle. Few casualties only were experienced on the beach, to those there were, being from shell and mortar fire.
6   The Battalion quickly made its way to the Assembly Area, the small village of LION-SUR-MER about half a mile inland, where they were met by Captain M.D.G.C. Ryan, OC “HQ” Coy, and his party of guides who had landed an hour previously with one of the assault brigades to make a reconnaissance of the Assembly Area. Shell and mortar fie was still coming down resulting in a further few casualties.
6 1645 The Brigade Commander, Brigadier J.C. Cunningham, M.C., was wounded and evacuated, our Commanding Officer, Lieut Colonel I.C. Harris, assuming temporary Command of the Brigade. Major B.J.FitzG. Donlea, M.C., assuming temporary Command of the Bn.
6   Whilst in the Assembly Area Capt A.G. Seelers, the Mortar Platoon Commander, was wounded in the legs by small arms fire, probably from a sniper, and evacuated.
PERIERS SUR LE DAN (France) 6   Having assembled and sorted itself out from the inevitable tangle which such a landing makes, the Battalion was ordered to occupy the high ground at a point slightly North East of PERIERS SUR LE DAN, where it dug in for the night in readiness for a quick move forward.
6   Lieut Colonel I.C. Harris returned to the Battalion, the Brigade having been taken over by Colonel A.D.G. Orr, DSO, who had acted as the Brigade Second in Command for a few months prior to D Day.
6   Seven German Snipers and ten others were captured with a fair quantity of weapons and equipment.
7   The Battalion was ordered to move in a South Westerly direction to capture CAMBES, a small village thickly wooded, approximately six miles inland from the coast. The Bn moved via LE MESNIL with “D” Company, Commanded by Captain J.R.StL. Aldworth, as vanguard. It was believed that CAMBES was lightly held, but as the two woods surrounding it were themselves surrounded by walls some ten feet high, it was not possible to observe the enemy’s actual dispositions. "D" Company was ordered to proceed forward and capture CAMBES with the rest of the Battalion closely following in reserve.
7 1700 “D” Company moved forward supported by one Squadron of tanks (East Riding Yeomanry); the rest of the Battalion remained halted at the side of the wood. Four enemy fighters suddenly appeared and machine gunned the rear companies, causing no casualties. During the battle "D" Company Commander, Captain J.R.StL. Aldworth, was killed; Captain H.M. Gaffikin – OC Carrier Platoon - wounded, remaining with the Battalion, and Lieut H. Green wounded and evacuated. The attack had cost “D” Company one Officer and fourteen Other Ranks Killed, one Officer and eleven Other Ranks Wounded and four Other Ranks Missing, with two Stretcher Bearers from the Medical Section Killed whilst tending the wounded. See Appendix I
LE MESNIL (France) 8   The Commanding Officer, together with Commanding Officers of 33 Field Regt Royal Artillery and East Riding Yeomanry, and protected by the Battalion snipers under Command of Sjt F. Pangott, made a reconnaissance for a Battalion attack on CAMBES.
8 1630 The Commanding Officer gave the plan for the attack to Company Commanders at ANISY, after which Company Commanders made their reconnaissance. The ground from ANISY to CAMBES was very open, rising slightly from ANISY for some 400 yards, the remaining 1100 yards to CAMBES being quite flat and open. Consequently the Company Commanders reconnaissance was not carried out under very satisfactory conditions. See Appendix II & III
8   Captain W.H. Baudains, M.M., whilst making reconnaissance of a route for a night patrol, together with the Platoon Commander and three Section Commanders of No. 11 Platoon, met an enemy patrol of one Officer and ten men, of which five were killed any six taken prisoner without injury to our party of two Officers and three NCOs.
8   An enemy fighting patrol of about thirty men attacked “C” Company at LE MESNIL, but were driven off, the attack costing us one Killed and five Wounded.
9   “C” Company carried out a nuisance raid on enemy positions at CAMBES during the night (8/9 Jun 44). The Germans again attacked "C" Company at LE MESNIL. Both these actions caused no further loss to the Battalion. Sporadic Mortar and Machine Gun fire experienced.
9 1515 Attack on CAMBES began. The two leading companies, A & B, passing start line at 1515 hrs. The attack was supported by one 6” Cruiser, Royal Navy, the whole of the Divisional Artillery, two troops 101 Bty 45 Anti-Tank Regt, RA, - one ordinary and one self propelled. One Company 4.2” Mortars, One company Medium Machine Guns from 2 Mx Regt; one Regiment of Sherman Tanks (East Riding Yeomanry); and, finally, Royal Engineers in the shape of assault demolition and mine clearance teams, with five Armoured Vehicles Royal Engineers. The advance having commenced the first objective was reached at 1630 hrs. The men advanced in good order and were well spaced out, direction being steadied by the Commanding Officer from the left. On reaching the ridge some 1100 yards from the objective, whence they could be permanently observed by the enemy, they came under a heavy barrage of mortar shell fire accompanied by machine gun fire. In spite of this, the Battalion continued the advance in open order keeping perfect distance with the same unconcern as that shown on a Company Field Firing Exercise.
9   In passing through A Company on the 1st objective, C Company, who by this time had the AVsREs under command, lost these to the German 88 mm guns firing from LA BIJUDE. With great vigour and dash C Company fought their way through the wood to their final objective.
9   D Company, although sadly depleted in numbers, went through B Company and secured its objective.
9   Immediately the leading companies had reached their 1st objectives, the Anti-Tank Platoon under Command of Captain C.R. Gray were ordered to move forward to assist in consolidation. All gun detachments moved forward in the face of accurate 88 mm and mortar fire, and succeeded in being manhandled into position with the exception of one detachment, which had received a direct hit from an 88 mm shell. The gun was later recovered and manhandled into position.
CAMBES (France) 9   During the consolidation the enemy subjected the position to a vicious attack of mortar and shell fire which lasted for five hours, so that the digging in was carried out under the greatest difficulties.
9   At the end of the day, the Battalion’s casualties were three Officers and forty-one Other Ranks Killed, seven Officers and one hundred and thirty one Others Ranks Wounded and Evacuated, three Officers and three Other Ranks Wounded but not Evacuated, one Officer and ten Other Ranks Missing, making a total away from the Battalion of eleven Officers and one hundred and eighty two Other Ranks.
9   Many of the wounded had been amazingly cheerful, joking in the face of the most frightful wounds. The Medical Officer, Captain C.R. Wright, RAMC, and his staff of Medical Orderlies and Stretcher Bearers had been a pillar of strength, dealing with the patients with the same calmness and a good deal more humour than was normally shown on the non operational sick parade.
10   Battalion sector quiet during the early part of the day. Plenty of Air activity. Work on Battalion positions continued.
10 1615 Very heavy Artillery fire from our side, the enemy retaliating with some mortar fire. There were no casualties in the Battalion area.
11 0900 The Commanding Officer held a conference.
11   This was another quiet day in our sector, though there were artillery exchanges during the day.
11   Patrols penetrated into enemy lines and brought back some useful information.
11   The Battalion are now settled down after the excitement of D Day.
12 0900 Commanding Officer’s conference.
12   Another quiet day, interrupted by the noise of our artillery fire and explosions from the enemy lines.
12   Patrols went out after dark.
13   Commanding Officer’s conference.
13   Another quiet day. Air activity was slight owing to low clouds, but later in the day weather conditions improved and our aircraft was out in great strength.
13 2100 A large fire was observed in the enemy lines and was reported to be in the LA BIJUDE area. Later reported to have been an ammunition dump.
13   Patrols sent out again during the night.
13   A Battalion News Sheet, "The Harp”, was introduced.
14 0900 Commanding Officer's conference was held.
14   Notification was received that Captain (QM) C.H.D. Henniker had been awarded the MBE on the occasion of the celebration of His Majesty the King’s Birthday, publication having been made in the Supplement to The London Gazette dated 8th June, 1944.
14   Plenty of air activity today.
14 1315 Large clouds of black smoke and a number of explosions from the LA BIJUDE area.
14 2300 1st line Reinforcements arrived consisting of one Captain, 6 Subalterns and one hundred and twenty nine Other Ranks.
15   Quiet day until the enemy shelled C Company at 2000 hrs with H.E. and smoke, also sparodic Mortar fire onto the whole Battalion area.
15 2130 Mortar fire from the enemy brought down on Battalion Headquarters.
15 2345 Lieut. C. Lyndon-Adams posted from Reinforcement Holding Unit as OC Mortar Platoon.
LE MESNIL (France) 16 0400 Move of Battalion from CAMBES to LE MESNIL area completed. Slight bombing attack en route and mortaring experienced in both areas. Remainder of day quiet.
16 2330 Company Quartermaster Serjeants arrived. Lieut K. Bradshaw posted from Reinforcement Holding Unit.
17 0900 The Commanding Officer held a conference at Battalion Headquarters, this being followed by Patrol Cadre for Officers and NCOs.
17 1200 A Memorial Service for our Fallen Comrades was held at Battalion Headquarters for two Companies, the service being conducted by the Rev Wilson from 1 KOSB.
17 2100 Mortar fire brought down on Battalion area.
17 2300 Mortar fire brought down on C Company area resulting in one Killed and two Wounded.
18 1100 Service for all denominations conducted by our Chaplain, The Rev Fr J.P. O’Neill, was held at Battalion Headquarters and followed by a Memorial Service for our Fallen Comrades.
18   A quiet day.
19 1130 Roman Catholic Mass was celebrated at Battalion Headquarters followed by a Memorial Service, both conducted by our Chaplain.
19 1930 Commander 9th British Infantry Brigade visited the Battalion, accompanied by GSO I, AA & QMG and SC from 3 British Infantry Division.
19 2030 Slight mortaring of Battalion position.
CAMBES (France) 20 0400 Battalion move from LE MESNIL to CAMBES completed, position having been taken over from 1st King's Own Scottish Borderers.
20 0900 Commanding Officer’s conference held at Battalion Headquarters.
20 1730 Short heavy and concentrated shell attack, resulting in casualties - two Killed and five Wounded.
21   Sparodic shell and mortar fire experienced.
21   Lieut C. Lyndon-Adams was Killed whilst being conveyed to Field Dressing Station as a result of shell fire. The second Mortar Officer we had lost since the beginning of operations.
22 0900 Commanding Officer’s conference.
22   Standing patrol on forward outskirts of Battalion area reported sounds of South Lancashire Regt’s attack on CHATEAU DE LA LONDE on our left flank.
23 0900 Commanding Officer's conference held at Bn HQ.
23 1230 Heavy shelling in A Company area resulting in one man Killed and one man Wounded.
24 0900 Commanding Officer's conference held at Bn HQ.
24   A quiet day disturbed only once by slight shelling of B Company area.
24   The Commanding Officer made his first reconnaissance for the impending attack on ST CONTEST.
24 2300 Standing patrol reported sounds of digging and wiring.
25   Enemy artillery and mortars very active today, several vicious attacks were made on the Bn area.
25   The Commanding Officer accompanied by Company Commanders made a reconnaissance of the ground between VILLON LES BUISSONS and ST CONTEST.
25   Major General L.G. Whistler, D.S.O., our new Divisional Commander visited the Battalion.
26 0900 Commanding Officer’s conference. Slight shelling of Bn area during today.
27   The Commanding Officer attended at Brigade Headquarters and received orders for the attack on ST CONTEST.
27 1145 Lieut S.E. Frost, B Company, was Killed by a mine outside his Platoon area.
28 0400 The Battalion attack planned as part of a Brigade attack was based on the assumption that 8 Br lnf Bde should first capture the village of LA BIJUDE and EPRON. They were, however, held up at an early objective – CHATEAU DE LA LONDE. In consequence our own attack, zeroed for the early morning, was indefinitely postponed. At 1200 hrs the plan was changed after a hurried conference between the Brigade Commander and the Commanding Officer. It was decided that B Company and a Squadron of the East Riding Yeomanry would launch an attack on LA BIJUDE. This attack can be described as a feeler with the hope that the enemy, hard pressed at CHATEAU DE LA LONDE, would be unable to resist a thrust on his left flank directed towards LA BIJUDE.
28   The Squadron of East Riding Yeomanry advanced to a ridge in front of our position and came under intense fire from M.Gs. and Anti-Tank guns firing from LA BIJUDE, MALON and CHATEAU itself. Against this punishing attack they could make no headway, though on three separate occasions they tried, with great gallantry, to push forward beyond the ridge. In consequence, B Company were pinned down on their start line, unable to advance.
28   Eventually the attack was called off. Casualties for the ERY were heavy, having two tanks destroyed and four out of action. Our own casualties were two men wounded by shrapnel.
28   In the evening, the Brigade Commander said that the enemy had been in greater tank and infantry strength than had been anticipated, hence the operation planned the previous day was cancelled.
29   Some shelling throughout the day without the Battalion suffering casualties.
30   Shelling today was on a larger scale. On several occasions the Battalion suffered sustained periods, during one of which Captain N.R.V. Watson was Killed.

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Source: Jeroen Koppes, TracesOfWar.com, transcribing: 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.