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6th Battalion Grenadier Guards – War Diary February 1944

1st February 1944 - Trimonsuoli

The shelling and mortaring on our positions was less than usual and no casualties were suffered.

1000 A warning order was sent to companies that it was to be relieved that night by the 2nd Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers, the relief commencing at 1945 hrs.

1745 The relief commenced and was completed by 2200 much earlier than anticipated. Companies marched to the transport approximately two  miles west of the Garigliano.

2345 The battalion arrived in the new billeting area Nocaletto and S. Andrea.

2nd February 1944

Reveille was late to make up much needed sleep and companies spent remainder of the day taking baths and clearing up.

3rd February 1944

The battalion reformed once again into three rifle companies (full strength) and support company, No, 4 Company becoming reinforcement company.

4th February 1944

1130 The Divisional Commander paid the battalion a visit with the Brigade Commander. Owing to rain he did not inspect the battalion but visited companies in their platoon billets and talked to the Guardsmen.

5th February 1944

1330 The battalion’s short rest came to an end and recce parties left HQ for Trimosuoli to make arrangements for the relief of the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards.

1700 The battalion moved off in TCVs to cross the river. Order of march 1, 3, 2, HQ followed an hour later by the  F and A Echelon transport which included all Support Company.

The TCVs crossed the Garigliano at 1900 hrs and debussed 10 minutes later.

1945 The relief began and by 2200 hrs the relief was completed. No. 1 Company right MR 764956, No. 2 Company centre 766955, No. 3 Company left and in reserve south west of Trimonsuoli, Battalion HQ 300 yards south of the ?? village.

5th/6th February 1944

The night of the relief was mercifully quiet.

6th February 1944

1700 There were no casualties during the day until 1700 hrs when a six-barrelled Nebelwerfer fired on No. 3 Company causing five casualties.

1800 Lieutenant Williams set off with a small patrol from No. 3 Company to find out whether some nearby houses were occupied by the enemy.

2300 The patrol returned with the information that the houses were occupied and also gave the location of a Spandau post.

The houses and the Spandau post were heavily shelled during the night and early hours of the morning of the 7th by 25 pounders.

7th February 1944

1300 Captain The Honourable Legh took over command of No. 3 Company while Major Penn went for three days well-earned rest.

8th February 1944

Our 3-inch mortars were active again today firing chiefly on reserve slopes of a hill where a platoon was suspected to have dug itself in.

1630 Lieutenant Leake and 10 men from No. 1 Company set off to act as a covering party for some sappers who were to clear a road down which a troop of tanks were to make a nuisance raid that night.

2015 The troop of tanks moved off which Lieutenant Leake and his party giving protection. The tanks fired AP and Browning ?? fast as they could in all directions. Visibility was unfortunately bad but it looked as if the ?? had its fair share of ??. However, as the patrol commander said as he returned “a good time was had by all”.

The Germans did not return fire as was expected except by some mortars which opened up in entirely the wrong direction. The Gunner OP on the look out spotted the flashes and dealt with them. The result was unknown.

9th February 1944

0010 A Nebelwerfer fired on No. 3 Company again from approximately the same place as last time causing two very slight casualties. The flashes were also spotted and immediately fired on by 25 pounders.

1530 Lieutenant Naylor-Leyland , No. 2 Company, took out a fighting patrol with the intention ambushing a German engineer party who were possibly going to lay mines in area where our tanks had gone the previous night. He returned at 2330 hrs with nothing important to report.

1930 Lieutenant Fraser (No. 1 Company) and 12 men went to silence the Spandau post at MR 756956 area of grey house which had been rather noisy every night.

Unfortunately, the patrol met a minefield and suffered casualties. The officer missing and probably wounded, 2 other members of the patrol also got back were also wounded.

The minefield was met approximately 30 yards away from the enemy post and when the mine blew up a Spandau on ?? automatic opened up and made further patrolling impossible.

2000 Warning order received that the Scots Guards were probably relieving us the following night 10/11.

10th February 1944

1430 Definite orders received that relief was to take place. This was received by the Adjutant from Brigade Major on the telephone, the Brigade Major giving the timings, amount of vehicles allotted etc. On the other telephone the Brigade Commander was giving the Commanding Officer details of the relief which would not take place.

1500 Civilians reported that three British soldiers had been captured night 9/10 by the Germans, two of them wounded, the third seemed alright. This was good news in that we knew Lieutenant Fraser was still alive and also the Guardsmen with him.

Night 10/11th February 1944

It rained the whole night, slit tranches flooded, blankets soaked and in fact conditions were as bad as they could be.

11th February 1944

0600 One platoon from No. 1 and No. 2 Companies were withdrawn into Trimonsuoli before first light in order to dry off a little during the day.

2000 Lieutenant King-Smith, No. 3 Company, took out a fighting patrol to capture or ambush Germans in the Minturno Station area. He returned 2330 hrs with nothing to report.

2015 No. 2 Company forward platoon reported a German patrol four or five approximately 50 yards to their front going north. The patrol was fired on by a Bren but missed. Ten minutes later a section?? under Lieutenant ?? went out to capture or kill the patrol. Twelve grenades were thrown and all sorts of weapons were fired in the area where the patrol had been last seen but the Boche had apparently fled.

11/12th February 1944

Enemy shelling and mortaring was heavy during the night, but we suffered no casualties.

12th February 1944

1000 A sentry of No. 2 Company sighted just short of the Scauri feature “2 submarines flashing?? about in small circles chasing each other”.

Although this report sounded odd it was rather important as the Navy was shelling the Germans behind their lines only a few miles out.

1100 Possibility that the submarines were porpoise.

The rest of the day was quiet but when the darkness came the German guns and mortars were very active.

Night 13/14th February 1944

Three Germans taken prisoner by the Coldstream during the 13th made the statement that we were to be attacked during the night, so all patrolling was cancelled just in case. Nothing much happened except the usual noise and a few flares from both sides.

14th February 1944

1200 ?? order sent round to companies for the relief by the Green Howards night of 14/15th.

1630 The Commander assumed command of the Brigade while the Brigade Commander attended a conference at 15th Army Group Headquarters under General Sir H. Alexander to discuss manpower reinforcement.

1700 Commander and Company Commanders of the Green Howards arrived to recce their new area. They were only allowed as far as the Ops in the village as no movement in forward companies was allowed in daylight.

1945 The relieving companies passed Battalion HQ and the relief commenced.

2200 The relief was completed without incident and the battalion arrived back in old billet area at Nocaletto about 2330 approximately.

15th February 1944

The first day of rest was spent cleaning clothes and weapons and nearly the whole battalion managed to get a bath. A few cinema seats were allocated to each company for an ENSA show in Sersa.

16th February 1944

1400 A hundred men went to Capua to see Leslie Henson show ‘Gaieties’ which was definitely the best entertainment that any troops have seen out here.

17th February 1944

0900 Companies held a drill parade under their own arrangements.

1200 The Commanding Officer held a short conference in Battalion HQ. The most important point being that neither 201 Guards Brigade or the 6th Battalion were going to be disbanded – a thought which had been in many people’s mind for some time.

1310 Good news was received that further officers and men of the battalion had had the services recognised by immediate awards for gallantry:

Captain R. Howard Distinguished Service Order

Captain Whatman Military Cross

Lance Sergeant Fletcher Distinguished Conduct Medal

18th February 1944

1400 The battalion reconnaissance parties left HQ to have a look at the new Battalion area.

1700 The battalion left its rest area for Minturno, crossing the river and started the relief at 1945.

2150 By 2150 hrs the relief was complete and the Royal Scots Fusiliers had left xxx out for their rest.

19th February 1944

The 2 i/c assumed command of the battalion in this operation and the Commander took over Brigade. The Brigade Commander fell down the stairs rather heavily and was not feeling too well.

1800 The German rocket gun fired three times into the battalion area causing no casualties but shook up all the houses in the vicinity with its blast.

1820 One German gun firing in front of No. 2 Company fired 16 shells all of which were dud.

19/20th February 1944

The battalion was holding a large front and contact patrols between companies were sent out during the night. One patrol was slightly mortared and a Lance-Sergeant was slightly wounded by a splinter.

20th February 1944

Major Penn, commander No. 3 Company, left the battalion for a few days attached to Brigade HQ to understudy the Brigade Major.

1600 Battalion HQ, which had been in a most insecure house on the second floor, moved to another house, safer and, being on the sunny side of the street, much warmer.

1800 A reconnaissance patrol from No. 2 Company, 1 officer and 1 OR, went out to recce a stream about 800 yards to the front in dead ground to see whether it was possible to cross it. The patrol returned at midnight saying that any man could jump the stream and that there were apparently no Germans in the neighbourhood.

21st February 1944

The night 20/21 was quiet on our front but German patrols were apparently active on our right and left.

No. 2 Company laid a minefield of British S mines approximately 50 yards between two of its forward platoons. This was accomplished without incident.

This was a very quiet day and during the night not a single shell fell in the battalion area.

1900 Lieutenant Naylor-Leyland and two men from No. 3 Company went out to find out whether the Germans could approach the company area without been seen or heard and possible routes that the Germans may take.

He returned at 2330 having heard nothing and with the information that the approaches from the German side were extremely difficult and most unlikely to be used.

22nd February 1944

During the morning No. 3 Company was slightly mortared causing no damage.

1000 Lieutenant Oldfield was briefed for an ambush patrol night 22/23. On the right of No. 2 Company there was a gap (in the form of a re-entrant) between No. 2 Company right hand platoon and the Coldstream left.

This patrol was to set off about midnight and wait till first light on the 23rd in the hope that a German patrol might walk into them.

Company locations were at this time:

No. 2 Company area 787963 with a listening post for day and night on Point 141 787971.

Left forward No. 3 Company 783963 with a patrol in the cemetery 781967 by day and night.

No. 1 Company left rear 785956 with a platoon forward on Point 141 781958.

Two 6-pounder ant-tank guns at 780966 and 781967.

Two section carriers dismounted 783963 and a gunner OP Point 172 784963.

Battalion HQ at 787957.

During the evening the enemy mortars and artillery became more active again. The rocket gun fired twice. The battalion fortunately suffered no casualties.

1830 Lieutenant Oldfield set off with his ambush party rather earlier than originally planned intended as it was possible to get part of the way unseen by the enemy. The night was indescribably dark.

The patrol lay in wait the whole night at 785968 and returned at first light on 23rd with nothing at all to report.

23rd February 1944

0900 Captain Legh No. 3 Company came down to Battalion HQ to discuss with the Sapper officer where the minefield was to be laid during the night and orders were given to No. 2 Company to send an ambush party to the same place as the previous night.

1000 The rain began to fall heavily and it looked like as if we were in for another very wet spell. Visibility was bad and neither side were doing much harassing with mortars or artillery.

1600 During the afternoon Battalion HQ in Minturno was subjected to heavy shelling (150mm). Fortunately, the building was strong and though a few doors shutters were blown off no-one was hurt.

1700 Owing to the heavy rain patrols for the night were cancelled, No. 1 Company put up some wire defences.

24th February 1944

0545 No. 1 Company sent out two snipers to 784977 for the whole day who returned at 1900 hrs having seen absolutely nothing at all.

1600 Battalion HQ was again subjected to shelling for three quarters of an hour by some very heavy guns.

1900 Two more minefields were laid ‘S mine’ in front of No. 2 and No. 3 Companies. Wiring was done by all companies to strengthen up the defences.

24th/25th February 1944

During the night the enemy guns were quiet until 0615 when the rocket gun fired twice, fortunately not on the battalion.

Some of the company commanders of the York and Lancaster's arrived to recce our are which was going to be taken over by them on the night March 1/2.

During the morning the enemy guns were much more active than usual.

1300 The Field Service Police arrived to search the town for a suspected German OP operating from one of the houses. It was reported that morse was being signalled during the day back to enemy lines.

1400 The rain began again filling up the tranches and dugouts with water and by the evening the weather was so bad that the usual ambush patrol was cancelled and a rum issue for troops west of the river was ordered.

26th February 1944

More rain.

Reconnaissance parties from each company left B Echelon to make arrangements to receive the battalion in its new billet area. B Echelon was almost certain to move back on the 28th and it was by now fairly certain that the battalion was going to be relieved night March ½.

27th February 1944

0800 Lieutenant Wilson and two ORs went out with the intention of sniping a few Germans but the rain came down so hard and visibility became worse that the patrol was back by 1100 hrs having seen nothing.

1600 The 4 o’clock stonk on Battalion HQ began again this time not quite so accurately and no damage done. The counter-battery gunners were very quickly off the mark.

2300 The QM paid us a visit at Battalion HQ with the news that the battalion was going to Sorrento and not Nocera as was originally ordered. It was also expected that the 24th Guards Brigade was going to be in the vicinity at the same time.

Another very wet day.

27th/28th February 1944

Companies continued to strengthen their defence with wire and booby traps.

Early in the night the enemy guns and mortars were active, chiefly harassing the area causing no damage. This died down after midnight and the rest of the night was spent in comparative peace.

28th February 1944

More rain. An ambush patrol under Lieutenant Freeman-Atwood was sent out to 788975 as last light in very bad weather conditions. They heard enemy movement distinctly but were unable to see anything.

The two carrier section in the rear of No. 3 Company position fired on a German patrol of seven men unfortunately without result.

29th February 1944

1000 Our relief was again put off to the 4/5 or 5/6 March. This time it was to be done by a new American division which came as a complete surprise.

Intermittent shelling during the day but no casualties.

1130 A German armoured car parked itself about ½ mile in front of our position, the gunners had a ‘murder’ on to it. Though they admit they didn’t score a direct hit on to it, they blew up a small ammunition dump by its side.

In the evening it began to rain very hard again and a rum ration was authorised.