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6th Battalion Grenadier Guards

History

The 6th Battalion Grenadier Guards was formed in October 1941 in the UK. It left for the Middle East in June 1942, joining 201 Guards Brigade in Syria in September 1942. They first saw action in the latter stages of the Tunisia campaign. Throughout its time in Italy the battalion continued to serve under 201 Guards Brigade which in turn operated with 56 (London) Infantry Division from September to December 1943 and with 5 Infantry Division from January to March 1944. 

On 9th September the battalion landed at Salerno as part of the second wave with rest of 201 Guards Brigade. It saw heavy fighting around Battipaglia with the rest of the Brigade. The battalion then took part in the advance to Capua and the River Volturno before reaching the Bernhardt Line in early November 1943.

The battalion led the assault on the Monte Camino massif in the first Battle of Monte Camino and suffered heavy casualties. It took part in the second battle of Monte Camino in December 1943 before it was transferred with the rest of 201 Guards Brigade to 5 Infantry Division in early January 1944. In late January 1944 the battalion moved into the Minturno area which formed part of the bridgehead over the River Garigliano. It remained here until early March, seeing mostly low-level but continuous fighting, until it was relieved by American units.

The abttalion was withdrawn to the Naples area where it was informed it was being reduced to a cadre and returned to the UK. As the battalaion had not been overseas for very long only a very small number of personnel returned to the UK; most were transferred to 5th Battalion Grenadier Guards, which had taken severe losses at Anzio, and the rest were sent to the IRTD for use as future reinforcements for the Grenadier Guards battalions still in Italy (the 5th and 3rd).

On its return to the UK the battalion served in a variety of holding and training roles until it was officially disbanded on 4th December 1944.

Commanding Officers

The following were the unit's Commanding Officers during its service in Italy.

DatesNameComments
09 September 1943 - 05 November 1943Lieutenant-Colonel W.H. Kingsmill MCWas involved in a jeep crash returning from Brigade Headquarters and badly bruised.
05 November 1943 - 13 November 1943Major Sir H.J.F.S. Cholmeley Bt.Lieutenant-Colonel Kingsmill returned.
13 November 1943 - 13 November 1943Lieutenant-Colonel W.H. Kingsmill MCTook command of 201 Guards Brigade after Brigadier J.A. Gascoigne was wounded by shrapnel at Mieli.
13 November 1943 - 27 November 1943Major Sir H.J.F.S. Cholmeley Bt.Lieutenant-Colonel Kingsmill returned from commanding 201 Guards Brigade.
28 November 1943 - 04 December 1943Lieutenant-Colonel W.H. Kingsmill MCTook command of 201 Guards Brigade after Brigadier R.B.R. Colvin was caught in a mortar barrage on Brigade HQ.
04 December 1943 - 12 December 1943Major Sir H.J.F.S. Cholmeley Bt.Lieutenant-Colonel Kingsmill returned from commanding 201 Guards Brigade.
12 December 1943 - 19 February 1944Lieutenant-Colonel W.H. Kingsmill MCTook command of 201 Guards Brigade after Brigadier R.B.R. Colvin was admitted to hospital.
19 February 1944 - 21 February 1944Major Sir H.J.F.S. Cholmeley Bt.Lieutenant-Colonel Kingsmill returned from commanding 201 Guards Brigade.
22 February 1944 - 29 May 1944Lieutenant-Colonel W.H. Kingsmill DSO MC

Organisation

The battalion landed in Italy organised as a standard British infantry battalion based on WE II/233/2. Its companies were named No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 Company.

Due to heavy casualties during the first battle of Monte Camino in early November 1943, the battalion was forced to convert No. 2 Company to a reinforcement company and the battalion fought the second battle of Monte Camino with three rifle companies.  On 7th January 1944 No. 2 Company was reformed as a rifle company and the battalion reverted to a four rifle company establishment. However, this did not even last a month as casualties in the Garigliano bridgehead forced the battalion to convert No. 4 Company into a reinforcement company on 3rd February 1944. The battalion then operated on a three-company basis for the rest of its time in Italy.

After being withdrawn from the front in early March 1944 it was decided that the battalion was to be reduced to cadre and from 11th - 13th March 1944 most personnel were transferred to the 5th Battalion Grenadiers Guards which had suffered heavy casualties at Anzio. Those that were not earmarked to return to the UK with the battalion were sent to the IRTD.

Strength

The following table is based on the WE 3008 returns in the war diaries. The standard WE for a Guards infantry battalion at this time was for 36 officers and 811 NCOs and ORs, for a total of 847 personnel - it was officially allowed two drill sergeants over and above a line infantry battalion. The WE included the attached Regimental Medical Officer and attached personnel such as cooks and mechanics are included in the figures below. Personnel not part of the WE (i.e. the attached chaplain and his driver) have not been included. Lance-Corporals were included in the ORs and not as NCOs.

The battalion war diaries do not have the WE 3008 returns for September, October or November 1943 but strength returns for these months can be found in 201 Guards Brigade daily returns and also in 56 (London) Infantry Division daily returns.

DateOfficersNCOsORsTotalDeficit/Surplus
4 December 194335138639812-35
4 December 194335138639812-35
11 December 194328127573728-119
11 December 194328127573728-119
18 December 194332122544698-149
18 December 194332122544698-149
25 December 194336122596754-93
25 December 194336122596754-93
1 January 194433??N/AN/A
8 January 194435137661833-14
15 January 19444113871589447
22 January 19443913869987629
29 January 19444112871588437
5 February 194432114627773-74
12 February 194432111609752-95
19 February 194430113609752-95
26 February 194432111605748-99
4 March 194432112604748-99
11 March 194434116600750-97
18 March 19441879236333-514
28 March 19441875223316-531

Awards and Decorations

The following shows the number of awards for the Italian campaign only.

AwardNumber Awarded
Distinguished Conduct Medal1
Distinguished Service Order3
Military Cross10
Military Medal16
NumberNameAwardLG DateDate of Action
5045681Sjt. A. BartramMilitary Medal29 June 1944
2614175Cpl. V. BuckMilitary Medal23 March 1944
2615068Gdsmn. H. ButcherMilitary Medal29 June 1944
2618253Gdsmn. W. ButterworthMilitary Medal27 January 1944
202740Capt. H.W. ChestnutMilitary Cross27 January 1944
34604Capt. Sir H.J.F. CholmeleyDistinguished Service Order20 July 1944
2612833Cpl. F. DowlingMilitary Cross21 December 1944
2615780Gdsmn. J. EdwardsMilitary Medal23 March 1944
2616563U/L/Sjt. F. FletcherDistinguished Conduct Medal23 March 19447 December 1943
233182Lt. A.S. Fraser The Master of SaltounMilitary Cross29 June 1944
75823Lt. M.W. GrazebrookMilitary Cross29 June 1944
67093A/Maj. C. HanburyMilitary Cross24 February 1944
2620673Gdsmn. R.J. HiggsMilitary Medal23 March 1944
121865Lt. R.M.C. HowardDistinguished Service Order23 March 1944
2609443WO2 C. HutchinsonMilitary Medal20 July 1944
33717Maj. W.H. KingsmillDistinguished Service Order27 January 1944
2618485L/Sjt. T.C.L. MorleyMilitary Medal27 January 1944
2623066Gdsmn. T. MurphyMilitary Medal29 June 1944
2618001Cpl. D.A. NixeyMilitary Medal23 March 1944
67902Lt. E.C.W.M. PennMilitary Cross29 June 1944
2608829Gdsmn. R.W. PorterMilitary Medal29 June 1944
38746T/Maj. G.E.W. PotterMilitary Cross24 February 1944
278656Lt. J.E. RentonMilitary Cross29 June 1944
2621363Gdsmn. S. ScottMilitary Medal24 February 1944
2618923Gdsmn. F. SmithMilitary Medal23 March 1944
233183Lt. G.R. Stokes-RobertsMilitary Cross27 January 1944
2617414Gdsmn. S.M.H. TaylorMilitary Medal23 March 1944
2612263Gdsmn. J. WalshMilitary Medal29 June 1944
124543T/Capt. J.D. WhatmanMilitary Cross23 March 19448 November 1943
2616841Gdsmn. H.J.M. WorleyMilitary Medal23 March 1944

War Diaries

The following are the files in the National Archives that cover the unit's service in Italy.

TNA File NameDescriptionDates
WO 169/101656 Grenadier Guards1943 January - December
WO 170/13516 Grenadier Guards1944 January - March

The following are the currently transcribed war diaries.

War DiaryTNA File Name
6th Battalion Grenadier Guards War Diary September 1943WO 169/10165
6th Battalion Grenadier Guards War Diary October 1943WO 169/10165
6th Battalion Grenadier Guards War Diary November 1943WO 169/10165
6th Battalion Grenadier Guards War Diary December 1943WO 169/10165
6th Battalion Grenadier Guards War Diary January 1944WO 170/1351
6th Battalion Grenadier Guards War Diary February 1944WO 170/1351
6th Battalion Grenadier Guards War Diary March 1944WO 170/1351

Casualties

Not yet fully compiled.

Literature

The following published literature includes coverage of the units time in Italy.

Nicolson, N. The Grenadier Guards in the War of 1939-1945 Volume Two: The Mediterranean Campaigns. Aldershot: Gale and Polden, 1949. 582pp.