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The war diary of  8th Kings Royal Irish Hussars - June 1944

Transcribed from the War Diary of the 8th (Kings Royal Irish) Hussars for the period of June 1944 from copies provided by the Tank Museum, Bovington.

Unit – 8th K.R.I.  Hussars

Commanding Officer – Lt. Col. C.  Goulburn

June 1944

 

Bognor Regis

1st June

Day spent in maintenance

 

Bognor Regis

2nd June

C.O. held a conference to discuss Admin orders

 

Bognor Regis

3rd June

Orders received for the Regt less C Sqn and the Residues to move on 4th June 44.  The C.O. spoke to each Sqn and gave them the point brought out by Gen Montgomery in his final address to Unit Commanders

Staff Table att. As Appx I.

Bognor Regis

4th June

All vehicle were packed and stowed ready to move at 1430 hrs but at 1130hrs orders postponing the move were received

 

A17 Marshalling Area

5th June

The Regt less C Sqn and Residues, with a detachment of the Provost Coy, 7 Armd Div. Attached, moved out at 1430 hrs.  After a very slow journey the Regt reached A17 Marshalling Area at 2145hrs.  The tanks and B Vehs were parked by craft loads in roadside standings. 11 LCTs were allotted to the Regt on the scale of one per 9 tks or 12 B Vehs.  Drivers remained by their vehs, crews were accommodated in a tented camp with excellent catering arrangements.

Movement Order att. As Appx II

A17 Marshalling Area

6th June

‘D’ Day.  The C.O. briefed all Officers and senior NCOs and TK Comds, Maj Huth MC, Comd C Sqn & Capt Firth 2 i/c C Sqn attended.  Maps were drawn and issued and orders were received to move on the morning of 7th.

8 H Op Intrs No.1. att as Appx III

 

7th June

The Regt stood to ready to move off but the move was postponed possibly owing to the slow turn round of LCTs caused by bad weather conditions

 

A17 M.A

8th June

At 0130 hrs the 1st craft load left the Marshalling Area followed at 5 minute intervals by the remaining parties.  One Cromwell tk belonging to B Sqn could not be started and was left behind with its crew.  On arrival at R.C.R.P. 4 at Gosport all vehicles were parked by the sides of various roads leading to the hards.  Embarkation began at about 1400hrs and as each L.C.T was loaded it moved out into the stream to await sailing orders.

For details of allocation of shipping see Craft Load Tables att as Appx IV

At Sea

9th June

At 0100hrs the convoy moved out to sea.  After an uneventful voyage the landing craft beached at about 1900 hrs at Map Ref 885867 GSGS 4250,1:50,000 Sheet 7E/5 and all vehicles moved off the concentrate in the RYES area 8483, GSGS 4250, 1: 50,000 7E/5.

See 8H Op Instr No 1 att as Appx III.

827804

10th June

The day was spent in de-water proofing and maintenance.  B Sqn came under command 22 Armd Bde.  The CO went to HQ 7 Armd Div and returned with 7 Armd Div Op Order No.22.  The Regt was leaguered in an orchard and around the hedges of a hayfield.

Op Order att Appx V.

827804

11th June

At 0515hrs Regtl HQ and B Sqn moved up through BAYEUX to another orchard at 821727, B Sqn being still under comd 22 Armd Bde and carrying out recce on the rt flank.  Int the afternoon a considerable number of spent AP shots were landing in this area and RHQ and A Sqn moved to 817732 and spent the night there.

 

817732

12th June

During the morning the Tp Sgts tank of 5 Tp B Sqn was knocked out by a dug In 7.5 cm ak 40 at about 20 yds.  Four of the crew are missing and one was rescued.  At about 1300 hrs the remainder of the Regt less C Sqn came under comd 22 Armd Bde and the C.O issued verbal orders.  The Regt moved out, A Sqn leading and good progress was made as far as LIVRY 7361 where the Tp Ldrs tk of 2 Tp A Sqn was knocked out by an infantryman with a ‘Raketen Panzerbuchse 43I the German equivalent of the ‘Bazooka’. Two of the crew were killed and the remainder, Lt. D Rampf included, were wounded.  At this moment 4 CLY to put his motor coy into LIVRY to clear the village and to take over the lead when they had done so.  The motor coy (1 RB) cleared the village but as it was then getting late, no further advance was made that evening.  Meanwhile the Brigadier had ordered 8H to recce down the main CAUMONT – CAEN road as far as the X rds at 767637.  At 764636 the two leading tanks of 3rd Tp A Sqn were knocked out.  Lt. Talbot-Harvey and 6 other Ranks are missing. No further progress was made and the Regt leaguered in the area 733617 with the remainder of 22 Armd Bde.

See Appx VI.  G.S.G.S. 4250 6F/2

 

13th June

A Sqn under comd 131 Bde.  The Regt less A & C Sqns took part in the advance of 22 Armd Bde to VILLERS BOGAGE 8157.  Bde Centre Line was:-X rds 7361 – BRIQUESSARD 74 59- Along main road through AMAYE SUR SEULLES 7758 – VILLIERS BOGAGE 8157. The Regt was ordered to cover the right flank parallel to the centre line.  Regtl Centre Line was:BRIQUESSARD, Rd and track junc 741594, rd and track junc 737578, rd and track junc751567 and along the secondary road running East from there to the left flank by remaining in observation in the area 7563. On reaching 737578 it was found that the track there was almost non-existent and the centre line was altered to pass through CAHAGNES 7356. The leading Tp of B Sqn met a patrol of 11H who informed them that CAHAGNES was held by the enemy. RHQ returned to the Bde centre line and B Sqn continued the advance, they were fired on in CAHAGNES but got through without any casualties and moved along the Regts centre line as far as TRACY BOGAGE where they were ordered to take up a line of observation North of the village.  During the afternoon there were attacked by infantry supported by a TIGER tk. B Sqn held their ground and beat off the attack, losing three tanks but suffering no fatal casualties. By the evening 22 Armd Bde Gp had formed a defensive box in the area North and South of the road through ST GERMAIN 7758. The enemy attacking from the North, South, East & West. The centre line to Division was cut and the Group was temporarily surrounded. The Regt Leaguered in the are 783579.

 

783579

14th June

B Sqn moved out at 0530hrs. A Sqn remained under comd 131 Bde. News was received that C Sqn had arrived in the Div area.  During the course of the day B Sqn knocked out two MK VI TIGER Tks.  The left flank of the Division was rather exposed, and an attack by 50 Div to straighten out the line made very little progress and the Divisional Comd decided to withdraw 22 Armd Bde behind a firm base formed by 131 Bde in the area BRIQUESSARD 7459-Le PONT MULOT 7568. At about 2100hrs a heavy attack by inf supported by a few tanks developed in the South and East side of the perimeter. It was met by very heavy fire from Units within the perimeter including 5 RHA and by defensive fire put down by AGRA and US Arty from away back in the CAUMONT area. The attack was beaten off. During the attack B Sqn HQ were heavily mortared Maj Dunne being wounded and Lt. De May killed.  As a result of this attack, the withdrawal which had been timed to commence at 2315 hrs, was delayed by about 1 hour. However, when it did commence, it was not interfered with by the enemy and all units drove out without interference. Last to leave were B Sqn and one Coy 1/5 Queens, riding on the back of their tanks. They had held the rds and tracks leading into the East side of the village from the South, until the whole force were out of the village.

 

 

15th June

The Regt less C Sqn leaguered in the area 735665 and the day was spent in much needed maintenance for the tanks and rest for al ranks. C Sqn came under comd 131 Bde and moved to the BRIQUESSSARD area 7459 and put out a screen of observation around the position held by 1/6 Queens. 5 coy of 304 Pz G.R. of 2 Pz Div were opposite to them in this area and put in several attacks.  C Sqn were involved in close and confused fighting but all attacks were beaten off. Lt H.R.D Pegler was killed during the night.

 

735665

16th June

The Regt remained in reserve and good use was made of the time to repair vehicles damaged during the battle and to recover two tanks of A Sqn. C Sqn remained at BRIQUESSARD under comd 131 Bds and although some casualties were suffered all attacks were beaten off.

 

 

17th June

The Regt less C Sqn remained in reserve. C Sqn were attacked almost continuously during the night of 16/17 and by the morning of the 17th were very tired having been in their tanks for three days and two nights.  During the morning a Mk VI TIGER tank was spotted by the SSM and a 17 Tk gun from the Norfolk Yoo was brought into Sqn HQ area and the tank was knocked out. The Regt was credited with a half share in it. During the day, the Div Comd ordered 131 Bde to withdraw 1/6 Queens from the BRIQUESSARD box back to the area of BRIQUESSARD wood, some 1500 yds North.  The withdrawal was timed to commence at 2315hrs.  At about 2230 hrs, heavy shelling commenced which continued up till the time of the get out and was directed, principally on the exit to the village.  At the same time infantry made another of their attacks on the western side of the box. Some confusion prevailed but the withdrawal was effected without undue loss. C Sqn got out without any casualties, bringing two 17 pdrs on tow with them, which would otherwise have fallen into enemy hands. During the 3 days and 2 nights in BRIQUESSARD C Sqn lost 5 tanks,  1 Offr (Lt Pegler) and 7 0.Rs. killed or missing.  On the other hand they supported 1/6 Queens to such good effect that largely due to them the position was held and a large number of enemy killed.  C Sqn returned that night to the area of RHQ reverting to comd and leaguering at 735665

 

 

18th June

The Regt still in reserve, dav spent in maintenance and reorganizing.

 

 

19th June

Orders were received for the Regt to move back to the area of Main Div HQ at LA BUTTE with the role of protection of that area in the event of an enemy thrust from S.E. Accordingly, C.O. ordered Sqns to recce battle posns in the area S.E. of ST PAUL DE VERNAY 7468 and 7569 and to be prepared to hold them A Sqn 744695, B Sqn 744693 and C Sqn 742701.

CO’s verbal orders att at Appx VIII

744696

20th June

Day spent in recceing Battle Positions.

 

744696

21st June

Regt still in Div reserve and no sign of the enemy attack.  As a result of experience in the first engagements 100 Sten guns were indented for and received this day.  They were issued to Tks and Scout Cars.

 

Place

Date

Summary of events

 

744696

22nd June

The G.O.C 7 Armd Div paid the Regt an informal visit. O.C. ‘A’ Sqn, Maj Threlfall, attended a TEWT held by 33 Armd Bde.

 

744696

23rd June

C.O attended a conference at Div HQ.  In the afternoon he lectured to all Sqn on the progress of the operations and possible roles in the future.  Classes were held for instruction on the P.I.A.T. as further supplies of this weapon had reached the Regt.

 

 

24th June

Day spent in maintenance.  Some 105mm. Shells fell in the area causing one fatal and several minor casualties to B Sqn.

 

 

25th June

Orders received to relieve 4 CLY in their present role of observation in forward posns from 749641 to 755652. C.O and O.C. A&B Sqns recced area.  A Sqn moved to 743646 at 8000hrs to be in posn to take over from CLY Sqn and send out patrols at first light tomorrow.

 

747661

26th June

Regt Commander comd 22 Armd Bde w.e.f 0800 hrs.  At 0630hrs RHQ moved to are 747661, B Sqn to 743660 C Sqn to 748680.  B & C Sqns remained in Regtl Reserve.

 

747681

27th June

A Sqn reported slight enemy movements on their front

 

747681

28th June

Slight enemy movement on A Sqn front.  Brig Pepper, 56 Bde, visited Regt.

 

747681

29th June

Under comd 56 Inf Bde.  G.O.G 7 Armd Div and Brig Pepper both visited Regt. B Sqn relieved A Sqn. N.T.R

 

747661

30th June

Still under comd 56 Bde. N.T.R from RHQ, A& C Sqns,  B Sqns patrols reported very little enemy activity during the day.

 

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