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3rd Battalion Coldstream Guards – War Diary November 1943

1st November 1943

0800 As the enemy appeared to have pulled out, the Division Commander decided that 167 Brigade should push on to the third objective, rather than pass 201 Guards Brigade through them, owing to the difficulties in replenishment in hilly country.

1800 Brigade warned the Battalion that it was likely to remain in present area for 2 to 3 days.

0900 CO went to conference at Brigade HQ. Companies at disposal of company commanders for whole day. No. 4 Company remained in defensive positions as flank guard, Nos. 2 and 3 Companies withdrew into platoon localities.

1200 CO’s orders.

1230 Conference at Battalion HQ regarding promotions and formation of Patrol platoon. Lieutenant J.E. Hamilton nominated as commander of this platoon and remainder of platoon were volunteers from the three rifle Companies.

1930 Lieutenant-Colonel S.A. Taylor MC 2 Scots Guards dined with the Battalion.

2nd November 1943

2030 The battalion was warned by Brigade that it might have to move to area S. Pietro 9797 below Monte Crole on 3rd November.

3rd November 1943

0830 Commanding Officer’s parade.

0900 Battalion placed at four hours’ notice to move from 1200 hrs.

1000 Companies at disposal of company commanders for training.

1630 Lieutenant Kinchin-Smith, Pioneer Officer, rejoined the Battalion from hospital.

4th November 1943

0830 Drill parade.

1100 – 1315 Mobile baths by companies. Remainder of day companies at disposal of company commanders from training.

1800 CO Conference at Brigade.

1915 Conference at Battalion HQ regarding move to November 5th to concentration area prior to attack.

5th November 1943

0730 CO on recce with Brigadier.

1030 Recce parties to new concentration area north west of Monte Croce.

1230 Company commanders received orders from CO.

1630 Battalion moved in TCVs to new concentration area.

6th November 1943

0630 Recce patrol under Lieutenant J.E. Hamilton left to contact London Irish and recce start line for battalion attack and to find covered route.

0900 Brigadier gave orders to CO and company commanders.

1200 Recce patrol returned, Results made known, covered approach found and start line settled. Aerial photographs studied.

1330 Battalion moved to start line by march route order No. 3 Company, No. 4 Company, Battalion HQ and No. 2 Company.

1630 Artillery concentration on Calibritto.

1710 No. 3 and No. 4 Companies crossed start line.

1830 No. 4 Company reported reached objective, Pill Box spur. Only light opposition encountered, no casualties suffered.

2000  Lieutenant C.L. Lloyd wounded on mine whilst collecting wounded enemy. No. 3 Company were held up by mines.

2100 More mines and wire encountered by No. 2 Company while reinforcing No. 3 Company. Lieutenant C.H. Tuke killed on minefield. Lieutenant C.M. Mander seriously wounded and Lieutenant Clownes slightly wounded. Further recce of obstacles being necessary, it was decided to postpone attack on Calibritto until first light the following day.

7th November 1943

0600 Concentration of artillery on Calibritto, followed very closely by attack by No. 3 Company. Enemy in small numbers were taken by surprise. Eighteen POWs taken from 129 Panzer Grenadiers. No. 3 Company consolidated having reached objective. No. 2 Company moved up behind No. 3 Company and consolidated in depth.

1500 Grenadier Guards having previously reported that they had consolidated at the summit of the Bare Arse feature, short of 819, having failed to reach their objective. No. 4 Company were moved to reinforce the left flank of Nos. 2 and 3 Companies in case of counter attack.

8th November 1943

0600 CO gave orders to recce possible attack on Point 615.

0830 CO Lieutenant-Colonel D.W.A.W. Forbes MC struck by shell and severely wounded in head whilst returning from recce. Maj. Hon. A.R.G. Strutt assumed command of Battalion and resumed recce.

1200 CO and OC No. 3 Company returned to Battalion HQ from recce in Calibritto. OC 3 Company, Major J.M.G. Griffith-Jones, assumed duties of 2IC. Report of recce made to Brigadier emphasizing inadvisability of proposed Battalion attack on Pt. 615 a project which was subsequently abandoned.

1800 German reported to be infiltrating in direction of Pill Box on Bare Arse feature above Calibritto. Enemy activity also reported by No. 3 Company north of Calibritto. Following this information one troop of Shermans (Scots Greys) moved into position astride the Calibritto road and two Companies Scots Guards moved to fill the gap between the road and the Pill Box.

2000 Lieutenant Stilwell took out a fighting patrol to north of Calibritto, located mines and booby traps in area. Lieutenant Stilwell severely wounded by enemy mortar concentration. No definite information about Grenadier Guards dispositions yet received. Objective not yet captured.

Ten ORs were wounded during the day.

9th November 1943

1130 Battalion received warning order for relief by London Scottish and move to concentration area in Miele prior to relieving Grenadier Guards on the following night.

1200 CO on recce of positions at concentration area in Miele.

1900 Relief begins.

2300 Relief completed, companies proceeded independently to new area.

2330 Battalion recce party accompanied by Squadron Leader Lord Rowborough left to recce possible ascent for tanks north of Pill Box quarry. This was found to be definitely impossible as the tanks could only reach point where mule track emerged from olive grove and shell in front of Scots Guards area in case of counter-attack.

During day one OR was killed and one wounded.

10th November 1943

0700 Further tank recce made, nothing new found.

1200 CO and Company commanders recce with Grenadier Guards.

1600 Major W.A.G. Burns MC arrived from UK and assumed command of battalion.

1730 Battalion left to relieve Grenadier Guards in the order of No. 2 Company, No. 3 Company, Battalion HQ and No. 4 Company at half hour intervals. Heavy shelling of whole area, especially Canelle-Saracene road, interfered slightly with programme. Despite heavy and continuous but indiscriminate shelling of the south slope of Monte Camino by the enemy the ascent was achieved with three slight casualties.

Shelling continued intermittently during the night.

Our casualties during the day were two ORs killed, one man reported as missing and ten wounded.

11th November 1943

0500 The positions were strengthened and supplies were carried up the hills.

2000 Fighting patrol under Lieutenant J.E. Hamilton set out with intention of recce enemy positions at Point. 615.

Abortive attack by Ox and Bucks succeeded in relieving two companies Grenadier Guards and one company Scots Guards who had been cut off for 48 hours. Ox and Bucks objective was Point 819. The attack was disorganised by Spandau fire from reverse slope of Razor Back feature, short of Monastery feature and was called off.

Intermittent shelling of Battalion positions and mule track.

Supply line was further organized, supplies being carried from the dump which had been formed to the companies, the enemy mortaring the hill whilst the supplies were being carried up it.

Intermittent shelling of battalion positions and the mule track.

Lieutenant P.H. Wyld was wounded by a sniper and six ORs were also wounded chiefly by mortars.

12th November 1943

Recce by Corps and Division commander with Brigadier from our position; plan considered for attack in two phases, 1 -Razor Back and 2 – Point 819.

The fighting patrol under J.E. Hamilton returned having reached the foot of Point 615 unopposed, firing several bursts of LMG at random at the feature, no answering fire received.

A quiet day except for spasmodic shelling during which three ORs were killed and twelve wounded.

13th November 1943

1415 Division Commander’s conference at Battalion HQs at Saracene followed by Brigadiers conference. Plan for withdrawal considered.

1715 Brigadier G.A. Gascoigne wounded when returning from conference by shell falling near Grenadier Guards HQ.

Lieutenant-Colonel Kingsmill, Grenadier Guards, took over duties of Brigadier.  

Lieutenant-Colonel D.W.A.W. Forbes MC died in hospital.

Intermittent mortaring and shelling continued. Supplies were still to be carried up the hill.

Two ORs killed and five wounded during day.

14th November 1943

1000 Brigadiers conference at 6 Grenadier Guards HQ. Orders for withdrawal issued.

1745 201 Guards Brigade commence to withdraw.

1800 No. 2 Company before withdrawing repulsed small-scale attack by enemy platoon. Fifteen enemy killed.

2200 Withdrawal completed without casualties, despite heavy rain, thick mist and treacherous slope. There was no enemy shelling.

2230 Battalion embussed and drove to Marzano, assembly area and went into billets. During the day six men were wounded and two men were killed.

15th November 1943

The day was spent in improving billets and reorganisation.

Rain all day.

16th November 1943

Still raining. Further reorganisation carried out.

17th November 1943

Division commander addressed all officers and WOs on recent operations. Reason for withdrawal stated as ‘Inability to maintain further fresh troops and great difficulty of supply’. The effect of our holding the positions had been to force the enemy to switch two divisions from 8th Army to the 5th Army front, making a breakthrough by the 8th Army hoped for in consequence.

18th November 1943 - Marzano

Battalion resting in billets 0401. Very wet.

19th November 1943

Battalion resting in billets. Still raining.

20th November 1943

Advance party left to new Battalion area Pugliano 0292.

21st November 1943 - Pugliano

Main party moved to new area, in order of Battalion HQ, Nos. 2 and 3 Companies at Pugliano, No. 4 Company and Support Company at Doddi 0191.

22nd November 1943

Battalion busy on drill parades, Young Corporals Class and Company training.

Lectures in the evening for NCOs on interior economy.

23rd November 1943

1630 Irish Guards Band arrived from Caserta. Gave a swing band concert at night in marquee.

Very stormy weather.

24th November 1943

1530 Irish Guards Band carried out a parade march with Battalion and then gave an open-air concert. The band left at 1530hrs for 167 Brigade HQ. The visit of the band was much appreciated by all ranks.

A wet day.

25th November 1943

1000 Corps Commander, Lieutenant-General R. McCreery DSO, MC addressed all officers and WOs at Brigade HQ situated at Francolise 0487.

Another wet day hampered Company training.

26th November 1943

A fine day at last - company training.

1400 A German plane was shot down by fighters near Anti-Tank Platoon billets at Doddi.

Brigadier R. Colvin DSO, Grenadier Guards, assumed command of the Brigade coming to us from IRTD Philipville where he had been commandant.

27th November 1943

1200 A draft joined the battalion from IRTD consisting of five officers and two hundred ORs. The draft consisted mostly of 3rd Battalion and 2nd Battalion ex-hospital personal with the addition of a small draft from the UK brought out by Major R.J.V. Critchon MC. The officer’s names were Major R.J.V. Critchon MC, Captain W.A. Gillian, Captain A.C. Grover, Lieutenant P.M. Corbould and Lieutenant D.M. de L. Cazenove.

28th November 1943

1100 Brigadier R. Colvin came over and was introduced to all officers and WOs.

29th November 1943

Company training and drill parades.

The commanding officer visited all wounded Coldstreamers in the hospital in Naples.

30th November 1943

Company training and drill parades.

1830 A mobile cinema visited the Battalion HQs and gave a show in the open.

Battalion received warning order to move up into concentration area tomorrow; area 9701.