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2nd Battalion Scots Guards – War Diary March 1944

1st March 1944 - Tufo Area

Rain. We were informed that we should not be relieved before the 7th. The American gunner officer arrived who was to take over from ours. His name was Captain Louis Bretschneider. No patrols.

2nd March 1944

A recce patrol of two men which was sent to the Pimple at last light, was chased by a dozen Germans. Gunfire was brought down on the Pimple. It has become evident that the Germans sometimes occupy it at night and sometimes do not. A post on the road to our extreme right, manned by the Carrier platoon, fired at a German patrol who came along the ditch. Another party of enemy fired back at them from the opposite side of the road.

3rd March 1944

Archie Elliott laid three trip wires attached to Verey light flares near a house in the valley to our right front, returning at 2200.

4th March 1944

Gerald Winter took a fighting post to lie out all night and forward slopes of our spur. They got very wet but saw and heard nothing. During the afternoon three more American officers arrived – the commanding officer Major Furr, the S3, Captain Miller and the communications officer, Lieutenant Barr.

5th March 1944

Eddie Crutchley took another fighting post to lie out in the same place as last night. A small party under Lance Corporal Coy went through them to ascertain whether the mines had gone off on the two bridges. They had. This party was fired on by Spandaus from the far bank of the Ausente, and on their way back saw a light like the glow of a cigarette in the house at the bottom of our spur, near which Archie Elliott laid the trip flares. The Commanding Officer wanted to send out a patrol to round up possible enemy lying up there; but this was vetoed by Brigade so we mortared the house instead. Eddie Crutchley’s patrol was withdrawn about 2200 hrs as heavy rain made it impossible for them to observe.

6th March 1944

No patrols.

7th - 8th March 1944

Preparations for move back. The handover took place between 2200 hrs and midnight. The battalion marched to an embossing point south of the river and were carried thence to a point on the road near Carinola where the 2 i/c and the Quartermaster met them with soup, tea and rum. The battalion left there at 0500 hrs and drove to Sorrento where luxurious billets awaited them. The 1st Battalion, with the remains of 24th Guards Brigade were back from Anzio and in billets two miles away.

9th March 1944 - Sorrento

It is learnt that we are to make the 1st Battalion up to strength and that 201 Guards Brigade are to continue existence only as a cadre. The battalion spend the day getting clean and acquiring new battledress.

11-12th March 1944

The Commanding Officer held a conference of company commanders to decide who should be sent to the 1st Battalion. We have to send 17 officers and 450 Other Ranks for the most part it is those who have been least time with the battalion who are to go. The officers entertained the officers of the 1st Battalion to dinner – over 70 sat down. Comparatively little damage was done. A container of gin for this party was dropped and broken by the man lifting it out of the truck – cost £40. At 1500 hrs an ENSA concert party performed in G company’s mess room (fitted with a stage by the pioneers) to a poor house.

13th March 1944

The Brigadier addressed the officers and WOs from the steps of the Villa Pepe (battalion officers mess). The transfer of officers and men to 1 Scots Guards took place. The following officers were transferred:

Major T.C. Harvey, Captain J.C. Blackett-Ord, Captain R.C. Petre, Captain the Honourable V.H. Vestey, Lieutenant G.P.M. Ramsay, Lieutenant E.R. Yates, Lieutenant J.V. Rowe, Lieutenant R.S. Jenkinson, Lieutenant J.W.R. Nicholson, Lieutenant E. Crutchley, Lieutenant D.J. Deane, Lieutenant E.F. Winter, Lieutenant T.R. Bland, Lieutenant D. Tyldon-Wright, Lieutenant E.I.L. Mostyn, Lieutenant the Honourable C.J. Dalrymple, Lieutenant Sir David Moncreiffe.

18th March 1944

A special boat took most of the battalion to Capri for the day. They found it strongly held by Americans. Vesuvius began to erupt.

19th March 1944

Capri was put out of bounds to all British troops. The Major-General visited the battalion and inspected companies. A smoker was held in the Sergeants mess, with the Irish Guards dance band. Vesuvius very spectacular at night.

20th March 1944

At 1830 Inga Anderson entertained the battalion. Lance Corporal Harvie (accordian), Sergeant Ehlen (tenor) and the Intelligence Officer (Soubrette) filled out the programme.

21st March 1944

A battalion drill parade, with Vesuvius in eruption as a background. (From this day on, drill parades took place almost daily). Alastair Erskine celebrated his 21st birthday party in the officer’s mess.

22nd March 1944

The officers dined with the 1st Battalion.

24th March 1944

A grey snow storm of volcanic ash falling everywhere. At midday a thick fog, necessitating lights on motor cars.

25th March 1944

The Commanding Officer parade was held on a football ground. Alistair Gordon flew to Cairo to get married and to fetch officer’s luggage left at Geneiffa. Richard Coke and fifty men took party in a ceremony at Naples with French and American troops.

26th March 1944

The officers gave a dinner to Colonel Guy Taylor (who had just arrived out to command 1st Battalion) at the Banca di Bacco in Positano but Colonel Taylor was ill and could not come.

29th March 1944

Assheton Cross, Graham Gow and Neil Torrance were attached to the Grenadiers as they were short of officers.

30th March 1944

William Brown re-joined the battalion.

The National Archives (TNA) WO 170/1353 2 Scots Guards