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2nd Battalion Scots Guards – War Diary September 1943

1st September 1943 

The LST party march to the Race Course prior to embarkation. They consist of Support Company, company reserves and such additional personnel as cannot be fitted on to the two LCIs. They are herded together in pens like a POW cage, but excellent food is provided.

2nd September 1943

A two hours march brings the LST party to the quay where they embark, together with some units who are to be attached to the Brigade in the evening the ship moves out of the harbour and anchors in a gentle swell (sufficient to cause many green faces).

3rd September 1943

The 'fighting four hundred', or the two LCIs parties, march to the Race Course and there is a general feeing of relief at the imminent prospect of a job to do and of leaving the fly-ridden shores of North Africa for ever. The LST has a practice 'Abandon Ship' followed by a shower of naked Guardsmen leaping or scrambling over the side in Mae Wests.

2 Scots Guards embarking at Tripoli on 3rd September 1943. The two officers facing the camera to the right are Lieutenant Stuart and Major Crichton-Stuart, the F Company commander.

4th September 1943

The LCI parties embark. Last minute farewells and melon-buying. Convoy sails after dark.

5th September - 8th September 1943 - At Sea

A calm sea makes a pleasant crossing for the LST, but the small and overcrowded LCI's are too much for all but the good sailors. No air or submarine alarms. On the 8th the LCIs, who are in a separate convoy, arrive at Termini, Sicily, where two Guardsmen swim ashore and get lost (such is their desire to visit new lands). However they rejoin later.

9th September 1943

About midday the LCIs disembark on Roger Beach and march to the assembly area. At 1600 hours the LST disembarks and the vehicles finally escape from the confusion of bogged vehicles and reach the assembly area at last light. A limited night advance along a route prepared and picquetted by the carriers brings the battalion about a mile and a half short of a mass of buildings soon to be known as the Tobacco Factory area. This important crossroads about two miles west of Battipaglia. The situation is fluid to say the least; and dawn is awaited with mixed feelings.

10th September 1943

The battalion moved up to take over from the Grenadiers, on the line of the road half a mile short of the Tobacco Factory, who were then to move to our right towards Battipaglia. After taking over the battalion pushed on to the Tobacco factory with Right Flank on the right followed by Left Flank and G Company on the left and F Company in reserve. Right Flank had little trouble to reaching their objective. Left Flank came up in the centre with the barracks and station as an objective, both of which were cleared. G Company pushed on in the face of much opposition and reached the line of the railway, Lieutenant Dollard and his platoon doing extremely well.

Owing to the very heavy fire from the crossroads and village, G Company and Left Flank had to withdraw slightly, the former retaining an OP on the railway line which was to become the most valuable in the battalion's position, and the latter evacuating the station and barracks. Lieutenant Fyfe-Jamieson got his platoon out of the station very well but got caught by his trousers on some wire. Serjeant Lumsden cut Lieutenant Fyfe-Jamieson 's trousers off under heavy fire and both returned safely. Right Flank also became involved in the fighting in the barracks and Lieutenant Bowen-Colthurst was wounded in the hand.

The day was marred by the death in the morning of Captain Sir H. Astley-Corbett when an 88 mm shell landed in Battalion Headquarters. Major Crichton-Stuart was badly, and Captain Romer slightly, wounded. Two anti-tank gunners killed and three wounded. The Commanding Officer and Brigadier had miraculous escapes. As a result, Lieutenant Philipson took over command of F Company. The Padre was wounded by a bullet in the ribs. The following other ranks were killed in action:-

2699435 Lance Corporal Peddie C.

2699109 Guardsman Jarvie V.

2700447 Guardsman Wilson J.

11th September 1943

A day of sniping by both sides and shelling by us. G Company's OP proved its worth. Lieutenant Dollard and platoon killing, with a Bren, several Germans, including an officer. Magnificent work by 65 Field Regiment who were in support of us.

Night attack at 2130 hours after artillery barrage. Right Flank right with the main Battipaglia-Salerno road as its objective. G Company in the centre with the job of clearing the factory and F Company on the left - objective the crossroads. Part of Right Flank reached their objective (Lieutenant Fraser's platoon) but the rest became separated and surrounded and were overrun by AFVs and taken prisoners. Major Bulkeley, Captain Willis and Company. HQ were the only ones to escape, the former having a number of narrow shaves after he had gone back to try and collect the company.

G Company fared better and got into the Tobacco Factory but were forced to withdraw, losing Lieutenant Sir N.J. Cayzer killed and Lieutenant Dollard wounded. F Company came under very heavy Spandau fire from the crossroads. Lieutenants Beckett and McLeod were killed and Lieutenants Phillipson and Capt. Weston Smith reported as missing. The company withdrew to its original position. Other officers missing were Lieutenants Clarke, Fraser and Elliott. The two last turned up a few days later after escaping from the Germans, and Lieutenant Clarke was later reported prisoner of war.

The following other ranks were killed in action:-

2820788 Lance Serjeant Leitch C.

2700597 Lance Corporal Laird R.

2696889 Lance Corporal Collie S.

2700713 Lance Corporal Carroll J.

2699879 Guardsman Smith G.

2698024 Lance Corporal Davidson A.

2698025 Guardsman Scott G.

2697058 Guardsman Campbell A.

2698303 Guardsman Douglas N.

2698722 Guardsman Grubb W.

2697094 Guardsman Harrold A.

12th September 1943

The battalion slept and sorted itself out. Major P. Stewart-Fotheringham took command of F Company with Lieutenant Henderson as 2 i/c. A quiet day of recuperation.

13th September 1943

The battalion reorganised its position. F and Right Flank were combined under Major Bulkeley and the line held by the battalion was shortened and consolidated. In the evening the Germans put in a battalion attack on the Coldstream front.

14th September 1943

A fairly quiet day with G Company and Right Flank's OPs having some good shoots. Right Flank developed the technique of ‘flushing the birds’ with mediums, shooting them, up with 25-pounders when they came into the open and then 'flushing' them again when they went to ground with 3.7-inch air bursts. Tac HQ re-joined Main HQ. Battipaglia was bombed by Mustangs.

15th September 1943

More shelling of German positions. Tobacco factory dive-bombed most effectively in the afternoon and Battalion HQ nearly had a windfall as well. Captain Coke, Lieutenants Orr, Methuen and Duberly and 37 ORs joined the Battalion.

16th September 1943

Carrier platoon went out on a recce, along the main road towards tobacco factory but got stonked and returned. G Company evacuated its OP because we were told that the factory was to be bombed. No bombing took place and we shelled the OP before re-occupying it. However G Company was attacked in its OP by three platoons and had to withdraw after disposing of a number of Germans.

The following other ranks were killed in action:-

2695089 Lance Serjeant Yule J.

2695783 Lance Serjeant Kinrade G.

2696077 Guardsman Baxter A.

17th September 1943

Right Flank’s OP was hit by four shells; casualties were eleven killed, including Lieutenant Balfour and Colour Serjeant Major Tulloch, and nine wounded. Additional other ranks killed were:-

2696619 Lance Serjeant Calder J.

2695834 Lance Corporal Lamonby D.

3312875 Corporal Roberton C.

2700648 Guardsman Telfer W.

2696570 Guardsman Simpson J.

2698224 Guardsman Reed W.

2697499 Guardsman Kaulback K.

2696384 Guardsman Anderson N.

2698331 Guardsman Fairbairn P.

18th September 1943

Germans having withdrawn, the battalion moved into Tobacco Factory area.

19th September 1943

Battalion was switched to the north of Salerno. The hills proved an unwelcome change to the flat of the Tusciano plain.

20th September 1943

A quiet day disturbed by a little mortaring and shelling. Parties of 25 were sent off for a much appreciated bathe in the sea, toward which we had been casting longing glances. The following other rank was killed In action:-

2697311 Guardsman Kennedy T.

21st September 1943

Lieutenant Carpenter-Garnier took a patrol out towards Briguano but ran Into a German standing patrol. Lieutenant Carpenter-Garnier and 26973402 Lance Corporal Milne J., were killed and two Guardsmen were slightly wounded. Carrier Platoon asked when walking-out would start in Salerno. The following other ranks were also killed:-

2979259 Pipe Major Raeburn J.

2693555 Lance Corporal Brown S.

2694429 Guardsman MacDougall W

2696041 Guardsman Rosie J.

22nd September 1943

Lieutenant Erskine's patrol reported Briguano clear. 46 Division on our left put In a night attack. Coldstream Guards improved their positions on the other side of the valley. A German night stonk killed two of Right Flank’s standing patrol and wounded one.

Other ranks killed were:-

2699232 Guardsman Reid R.

2700509 Guardsman Perry R.

23rd September 1943

All quiet except for a little shelling by guns we could not locate. All battalion has now had a bathe and looks a little cleaner. In the evening the battalion left positions to follow the Grenadiers advance up the valley towards Barouissi, but returned again shortly to their former positions.

24th September 1943

Spent the day expecting to be told to brew up closely followed by the word to move neither of which came to pass.

25th September 1943

The Coldstreams on our right attacked and in spite of heavy casualties took and held their objectives. Heavy enemy shelling.

The following other ranks are killed in action:-

2699536 Lance Corporal Cruickshanks J.

2698435 Guardsman Muir J.

26th September 1943

Salerno harbour was used today for the first time. The battalion had heavy rain-which was an unpleasant novelty. The following other ranks were killed:-

96678 Lance Serjeant Kennedy G.

2697475 Lance Corporal McConnell W.

27th September 1943

The battalion was brought back into Salerno to rest and refit.

28th September - 29th September 1943


30th September 1943

Commanding Officer's Parade in the Coliseum. After drill, Brigadier Gascoigne addressed the battalion and complimented them on the fine work they had done. 

Lieutenant-Colonel Taylor inspecting the battalion in Salerno stadium, 30th September 1943. Behind him are Major Steuart-Fothringham and Captain Weir. 

The National Archives (TNA) WO 169/10170 2 Scots Guards