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3rd Battalion Coldstream Guards – War Diary September 1943

1st September 1943 - Tripoli

All Day Pack up kit. Load up trucks which are to go on the light scale. Load carriers onto Landing Ships Tank. 

0600 Landing Ships Tank move out to the centre of the harbour.

2nd September 1943

All Day Clean up the camp. Clean weapons and prepare to move on the next day.

3rd September 1943

1200 Companies move down to the concentration area (Race Course) in transport.

1430 Last company (No. 4) leaves the camp. (There now remains in the camp those troops who are to follow on with the light scale and the balance to W.E.)

1700 Meal supplied to all ranks.

1830 Orders received to move off at 0700 hrs 4/9/43.

4th September 1943

0700 Companies form up and march to the docks.

1200 All companies embarked on four Landing Craft Infantry. One to each company. HQ embarked with No. 4.

1600 LCIs move to centre of harbour to enable troops to swim.

5th September 1943 - At sea

0530 Set sail for Salerno in convoy.

6th September 1943

0400 No. 4 Company LCI loses the rest of the convoy.

0400 Only two other craft in sight.

1900 Convoy re-sighted north of Pantellaria.

2200 Convoy re-joined.

7th September 1943

1330 Dropped anchor off Tormini in Sicily (near Palermo).

1700 LCIs join up in convoy with LCTs and Ack-Ack ships.

1730 Set sail.

8th September 1943

0800 Fresh water shortages on No. 4 Company LCI.

1930 Capri sighted to north-east of convoy.

2030 Convoy hove to off Salerno.

2100 German bombers fly over the convoy and sink one LCT.

9th September 1943

0300 Bombers withdraw.

0400 Assault on the beaches to south of Salerno goes in. Two brigades 46 Division, two brigades 56 Division. 2 Commando land in the town.

0800 - 744207 Battalion HQ lands with Nos. 1,2,3,4 Companies. No opposition on beaches.

0830 - 755218 Battalion marches up to Factory.

0900 - 747226 Battalion moves to assembly area.

1000 - 746228 Nos. 1 and 2 Companies 800 yards east-north-east of road.

1030 Commanding officer arrives from the Tac Brigade LCT and takes over command from Major D.W.A. Forbes.

1200 - 748232 Two snipers wound Guardsman In No. 1 Company.

1615 - 756237 CO recces route for advance.

1700 Company commanders recce advance positions along line of road.

2000 Companies move up to line of the road and dig in.

Orders of companies from north to south - Nos. 2, 3, 4, 1.

No patrols during the night.

10th September 1943

0530 Stand to.

0900 - 774247 No. 1 Company carriers patrol airfield and are fired on by Spandaus.

1400 Brigadier and CO recce airfield.

1530 Advance to airfield begins.

Order No. 1, No. 2, Battalion HQ, Support, No. 3, No. 4.

No opposition except shelling by 88s.

1600 - 773241 Major M. Brodrick killed by a shell.

Major Brodrick’s driver and 2 ORs also killed by same shell.

1700 CO to Brigadier.

781232-789224 Battalion to move behind the 6 Grenadiers.

2300 All companies dug in. Nos. 2 and 4 Companies move forward and are now under command of the 6 Grenadiers. Captain A. Davidson commands No. 2 Company.

11 September 1943

0200 - 0500 Bursts of Spandau fire along the whole front.

1500 Lieutenant Daubeny wounded in the arm (No. 4 Company).

1530 Lieutenant Skinner killed (No. 4 Company).

1540 Germans shell 25-pounder troop in battalion. area.

803228 Major Gore-Langton and Captain Harley badly wounded.

1600 - 820370

6 Grenadiers and Nos. 2 and 4 Companies driven back 200 yards.

1615 781232 - 789224 Battalion lines road as emergency measure.

1930 - 798236 No. 3 Company attacked from Morella direction 798236.

2100 Position restored.

Night quiet except for intermittent shelling.

Captain Sweeting commands No. 1 Company.

Lieutenant Straker-Smith becomes Adjutant.

Lieutenant Kerr-Wilson becomes IO.

12th September 1943 - 820370

Nos. 2 and 4 Companies remains with 6 Grenadiers.

1000 - 797227 Shelling of Battalion. HQ area.

1340 CO orders for withdrawal to line canal 794232-799224.

1530 - 793225

Battalion HQ retires to 793225.

No. 1 and No. 3 Companies rearrange present company positions.

No. 1 Company HQ 797226

No. 3 Company HQ 796234

1830 Grenadiers together with Nos. 2 and 4 Companies withdraw over bridge from 817237 railway crossing.

2015 Withdrawal completed successfully.

No. 2 and No. 4 Companies in new positions.

795224 No. 2 Company behind No. 1 Company.

793228 No. 4 Company behind No. 3 Company.

No. 4 Company reduced to two platoons.

Quiet night.

13 September 1943

0830 - 817237 Carriers patrol forward as far as the railway reports no sign of the enemy to SW of railway.

1200 - 817236 - 808240 No. 1 Company patrols of three men and one officer move out towards railway to recce and snipe any isolated troops.

1630 Patrol leaders Lieutenant Lloyd and Lieutenant Buxton report no enemy encountered.

1700 Lieutenant Longueville carries out patrol of same area. German police dogs attack the patrol. Patrol withdraws.

2030 - 799225 795228  German half-tracked troop carrier rushes the bridge and blows itself up behind No. 3 Company area in a tobacco field.

2300  799225 Tanks move up with German infantry behind. Infantry was 16 Panzergrenadiers.

2315 Mortars and Spandaus open up on No. 1 Company positions.

2315 799225 Anti-tank gun on the bridge knocks out three half-tracked vehicles at 100-200 yards range. Gun commander Sergeant Jackson.

14 September 1943

0130 Mortar bomb lands on control pit at Battalion HQ. Lieutenant Straker-Smith wounded with the gunner (65 Field) liaison officer and two signallers.

0200 Attack grows less. Stretcher parties up to No. 1 Company and No. 3 Company. Casualties - two killed, eight wounded.

0330 Attack repulsed. Gunners firing harassing shoots.

0001 - 0215 Gunners fire concentrations in front of Nos. 1 and 2 Companies and break up attack.

1200 - 798224 Dive bombers of the RAF bomb 1 Company area. Lieutenant Wyld slightly wounded. Lieutenant Longueville wounded and died shortly afterwards.

1330 - 820369 Lieutenant Lloyd patrols over the railway. Kills one German, wounds one and the third runs away. Finds many German dead and discarded weapons and equipment. Bogged vehicles had been deserted. Devastation caused by the shoots of the early morning by the artillery.

2100 Pioneers lay mines in front of company areas with the Royal Engineers.

15th September 1943

Captain Ker to command No. 1 Company.

Captain Sweeting 2 i/c of No. 3 Company.

1200 Pioneer platoon provides patrol to blow up the enemy AFVs.

1230 Draft arrives from Phillipsville (1ATD) Lieutenants Brown-May, Henshall, Alderson-Smith with forty-two ORs.

1400 CO posts the draft to companies.

Lieutenant Bourne-May No. 1 Company.

Lieutenant Herschell No. 4 Company.

Lieutenant Alderson-Smith Mortar Platoon.

1500 Second draft arrives. Lieutenant Stilwell, Lieutenant Jory, Lieutenant Howard with forty-one ORs.

1515 Draft poster to companies.

Lieutenant Stilwell Carriers.

Lieutenant Jury No. 1 Company.

Lieutenant Howard No. 3 Company.

1800 - 797223 No. 4 Company moves behind No. 1 Company for counter-attack role.

Royal Engineer company take over No. 4 Company area.

2045 - 799225 Two half-tracked vehicles head over bridge. They are destroyed by AT gun fire but cause 9 casualties in  No.1 Company as they were filled with mines and exploded when hit.

Enemy movement all night.

16th September 1943

0115 Battalion stand down.

0415 Stand to. Tanks reported.

0430 Attack goes in on Scots Guards on our left flank.

1215 Attacks cease.

1425 CO to Brigadier. Strong patrols to be sent out.

1515 - 815238 No. 1 Company patrol goes out to railway and beyond.

1730 Patrol returns with two German stretcher bearers.

17th September 1943

2000 - 0500 - 820228 - 827255 Patrol reports enemy in Battipaglia and digging in on railway line. Quiet night.

0830 - 827255 No. 3 Company patrol reports enemy OP in castle.

1500 Navy shells castle with 15-inch guns. Direct hits.

1530 - 773223 Balance to light scale disembarked and parked behind Brigade HQ.

1600 No. 1 Company patrol reports that railway is not held.

1900 - 804245 Tobacco Factory bombed. Four bombs in battalion area.

2200 - 801240 Enemy heard to be mining in front of No. 3 Company.

Captain Harley died of wounds during the morning.

18th September 1943

0100 - 830227 No. 1 Company patrol to Battipaglia reports no enemy found. Great bomb damage.

0930 CO goes to 131 Brigade.

0945 No. 2 Company patrol, which went out at 0530 hrs reports no enemy around Battipaglia.

1030 No. 3 Company sends a deserter from 16 Panzer Grenadiers to Battalion HQ.

1515 CO to Brigadier. Half-hour notice to move.

1545 Company commanders recce new positions.

2045 - 811243 Battalion moves to new area. Main road 811243. Quiet night.

19th September 1943

1000 Shells fall on road near No. 3 Company. Own gunners spot flashes and engage target.

1215 CO goes out on recce. Battalion. to prepare to move.

1300 Troop carrying vehicles at Brigade.

1500 - 804245 TCVs arrive in area behind factory.

1930 Battalion convoy passes start line near Tobacco Factory.

2300 - 651319 Arrive in new positions to relieve DLI Battalion. Supplies carried up to position.

648312 Transport left in town. Quiet night

20th September 1943

648319 Quiet all day. No movement forward of Battalion HQ during daylight as company positions are overlooked by the enemy.

0900 CO goes round all company positions.

1000 - 652322 No. 4 Company moved out of hospital building to slit trenches at the side.

644324 No. 3 Company on left.

646322 No. 1 Company in centre.

648321 No. 2 Company in reserve forward of Battalion. HQ.

1920 No. 1 Company Guardsman Killed in mortar shelling.

2200 No. 2 Company patrol out to 647335 and 652332.

2230 Three Americans come in through No. 3 Company. Dropped among German troops night 14/15th. 

21st September 1943

0100 No. 2 Company patrol returns. Fired on by Spandaus.

0740 - 646322 Division Commander and Brigadier to No. 1 Company OP.

0800 - 655327 No. 4 Company patrol reports enemy south of village.

1100 onwards Shelling by both sides.

1515 No. 3 Company have ten casualties from mortaring.

1515 CO to Brigadier.

1630 - 640325 Carrier section on left of No. 3 Company have three casualties from shells.

1645 - 655327 CRA to  No. 1 Company OP. 105s shell battalion area.

2030 Companies to send back supplies. Shelling all night – no casualties.

22nd September 1943

0500 Two casualties in Support Company from mortars. One Guardsman dies of wounds.

1230 CO to Brigadier.

1400 Order to No. 2 Company commander for advance on right of No. 4 Company (653326).

1400 - 652322 Lieutenant Joicey wounded by Grenadiers S-Mine together with one Corporal and one Guardsman. Lieutenant Joicey later dies of wounds.

1415 - 659323 Lieutenant Lumley goes forward to assist Lieutenant Joicey and his wounded recce patrol and is fired on from cemetery.

1600 - 653325 RE party looks for enemy mines. Discovers none.

2100 - 653325 No. 2 Company advances after short artillery barrage. Ten wounded, one killed. Lieutenant Windsor-Clive wounded in head. Lieutenant Howard’s platoon put in bayonet charge.

2200 No. 2 Company begin digging in. Wounded evacuated.

2300 Supplies and rations move up. No. 2 Company mortared – no casualties.

23rd September 1943 - 653326

0300 One intelligence Guardsman wounded carrying supplies to No. 2 Company.

0630 CO inspects No. 2 Company position. All dug in.

1000 Three hours’ notice to move.

1200 Padre found dead behind No. 3 Company. He was hit by a shell when returning from the forward companies.

1500 Mortars on No. 4 Company. 1 Guardsman wounded.

1730 Mortar bombs on No. 1 Company. Lieutenant Bourne-May wounded.

1400- 1800 Carrier section moves up road from 651315 due north. Wireless bad due to hills. Mines on road.

24th September 1943 - 648319

0600 65 Field Regiment take over from 64 Field Regiment which was in support of DLI.

0200 - 0630 - 653325 No. 4 Company fill in crater so as to enable vehicles to pass down the valley.

1400 CO to Brigadier at Tac HQ.

1530 - 648338 CO returns to Battalion. HQ with a mortar wound in the head. Wounded while on a recce for an advance and attack on Hill 270 (646348).

1600 CO evacuated. Major Forbes takes command of Battalion.

1600 Draft from Phillipsville (1 ATD). Captain Noel, Lieutenant Benson, Lieutenant Gunn, Lieutenant Tom and 128 ORs.

1630 Draft posted to companies.

1600 - 648338 Major Forbes takes Company commanders on recce of new positions.

1700 Recce party returns.

2100 Grenadiers attack and withdraw from Hill 270 (646348).

2200 - 648337 Battalion moves forward to new positions.

0200 All companies dug in. Quiet night.

25th September 1943

0545 - 648337 Brigadier to Major Forbes

0600 - 646348 Major Forbes carries out recce for attack of Hill 270.

0715 Company commanders recce attack.

0830  - 646340 Battalion moves forward.

1200 Attack begins. No. 1 Company on left, No. 3 on right. Nos. 2 and 4 in reserve.

1330 No.1 Company reported on objective. No. 3 Company fighting against Spandau posts.

1340 Mortars wound many of No. 1 Company. Seventeen prisoners taken.

1430 - 646342 No. 2 Company moves up to assist No. 3 Company.

1515 No. 4 Company moves forward. Major Forbes advances with them.

1650 - 646348 Position secured.

1400 - 1600  - 646340 Mortar bombs in Battalion HQ area. No casualties.

Casualties from attack:

Officers wounded - Captain Ker, Captain Buxton, Captain Sweeting, Lieutenant Nares.

Officers killed – Lieutenant Gunn, Lieutenant Jory.

OR casualties still uncertain due to difficulty of evacuation in the hills.

1750 Basuto troops bring up water, ammunition and food. Work continues all night.

2000 - 646349 German patrol near Hill 270. DF called for. Nothing more heard.

2100 Eight German wounded reported in RAP. Captain Chestnut RAMC assists battalion MD Captain Forgan.

26th September 1943 - 646349

No attacks all day. Arty quiet both sides. Work of evacuating wounded continues.

1610 Last stretcher case out of RAP.

1600 - 646349 All companies move back. Scots Guards take over.

1730 Rations arrive. Carried up from road by Basuto troops. Quiet night.

27th September 1943 - 648319

0500 Reveille (no stand to).

0700 Battalion begins to move back by companies to 648319 for a rest. Supplies and spare ammunition left in hills and collected by Basuto and South African native troops.

0900 Whole of battalion back in billets around Battalion HQ.

1200 Weapons to be cleaned during afternoon and stores checked.

1600 Lieutenant Bulteel and Lieutenant Ker-Wilson evacuated to hospital with malaria.

28th September 1943

Battalion spent the day in billets.

The reforming on the battalion as a result of the casualties inflicted on Hill 270 took place. No. 1 Company was disbanded and the remaining NCOs and Guardsmen being posted to No. 3 Company.

1800 A service was held in the nearby stadium under Brigade arrangements in commemoration of those who had fallen in the campaign.

29th September 1943

1000 A battalion drill parade was held in the stadium area near the billets. At the conclusion of this the Brigadier addressed the Battalion. and congratulated all ranks on their magnificent fighting during the past three weeks. A message of congratulation from the Corps commander was read out.

30th September 1943

The battalion spent the day in their billets.

1500 A recce party left for Fisciano to find an area for the battalion to move into the following day.

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