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Diary of a soldier in the East Riding Yeomanry BLA

Discussion in 'Air War in Western Europe 1939 - 1945' started by steve oz, Jun 8, 2008.

  1. steve oz

    steve oz Member

    Jun 1, 2008
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    June 5th Monday 6am LCT374 Sailed at 5.54. D-Day is Tuesday, sea very rough but I am not feeling sick, good night rest.

    June 6th Tuesday D-Day 1
    D-Day has dawned,I cant say how I feel, every thing looks calm and peaceful, we sight the shores of France at 900 hrs. The navy in force is bombarding, we prepare to land at 1100 hrs at Leon sur mer, but cannot make it, beach is overcrowded , as we pull out , shore batteries open up, plenty of near misses, thank the lord , eventually we touchdown at 1300 hrs.
    I am in a tank getting an eyeful through periscope, motorbike is roped on side of tank, only spasmodic snipers fire as we go into the water, wave breaks over tank just about drowns me, tanks go to dewater proofing area, remove byke , plenty of air scraps, tanks go straight into action , flail tanks go to town on minefields, 2 tank casualties, one with a mine one with 88mmgun, we harbour for the night at Hermanville , our first casualty 1 man killed with shell whilst sleeping.

    June 7th Wed D2 Paratroops bring in 100 prisoners up from Caen canal , snipers are giving us some trouble , 2 in church tower, tanks shoo them out , gliders came in last night with supplies for airborne , we advance into Gayelle this afternoon , held up at Peveen sur le dam by snipers PBJ shift them , gunned from the air by ME 109 very close shave that time. 88mm are giving tanks some trouble, Jerry shot some of our lads taken prisoner, he will pay for that.

    June 8th Thurs D3 Cloudy day and rain, go to Hermanville with casualties, got sniped in Jerries, they must have returned during the night , nothing much doing today , both sides getting ready for next round.

    June 9th Frid D4 Stand to 330am , jerry plane over , no one bothers , tanks go in action Cambes Wood to shoot ---R in it sounds like all hell let loose. Our tanks are getting knocked out , mortar fire closer , Johnny Dunn has been reported killed. That news has knocked the wind out of me , I cant believe it , the battle goes on till 12.30 at night , this is black Friday for me, I feel in the dumps.

    June 10th Sat D5 Johnnies death has been confirmed. Jerry planes over, we take up our scrap where we left off , RWRs have taken Cambre Wood. On recon with CO as his bodyguard , sniper gave us a rough time , got back ok. Harbour for night in German billets at Gayelle , plenty of mines and booby traps , jerry left in a hurry and did not set them. Had bath in 2 buckets , mortar fire during night.

    June 11th Sunday D6 Withdrawn from action to day for rest. Staffs Yeo relieve us. We go south of Caen to a farm.

    steve oz
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  2. steve oz

    steve oz Member

    Jun 1, 2008
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    June 12 Mon D7 Went to Cambres last night got shelled in dairy , but lady luck was with me. Saw dead German in BMW machine, bike also shot up to bad to ride away. Planes over tonight bombing beach , dropped plenty near us and nearly brought the place down , one truck of ours went up, slept well after he had finished.

    June 13th Tues D8 All quiet with us , fine day , did maintenance. RAF raid Caen , artillery shell jerry positions, bad smell from 2 well dead Germans as I came down the road. In C sent Dick Hodgson to bury them.

    June 14th Wed D9 I am cooking for our party today. Charlie Dobson came to help me with the DRs and to take Johnny Dunns place , planes over tonight, the sky is full of tracers.

    June 15th Thurs D10 Moved out and took up old positions at Cambres Wood , it’s a waiting game this , mortar fire very close , wrote letter , did washing , early to bed.

    June 16th Frid D11 Bike giving trouble , went with Charlie on the Cambre road to wrecked bykes for spares , jerry spotted us and mortared us , we did a breeze , but none to soon, helped ourselves to a cabbage , peas and onions , Charlie cooked , did some washing , its none to clean. More mortar fire , no mail , planes over.

    June 17th Sat D12 Eggs for breakfast, Charlie and Jack Coney got mined up in a low flying dogfight but got back ok. Monty sent us some fags, practise turn out , took us half hour. CO not satisfied , letters and papers from home, shell and mortar fire very heavey , Jerry got a lucky shot on one of S squad tank. 1 officer killed 4 men badly hurt , he has got our range alright.

    June18th D13 Slept badly, last night mortar fire very hot.Won extra rations, news is good. Yanks cut off Cherburg. Think brother Tom has landed, German A A shooting at Jiffys.

    Mond June 19th D14 Quiet night, Raining, nothing doing for us, went to Douvres *** quite a large town, roads are like quagmires, had to go to Periers at 2300hrs, ran into our patrols, only just remembered password, nearly my lot, quick on the trigger these lads, NO MAIL.

    Tues June 20 D15 Dull, strong wind, roads drying, out long range mortar gone Jerry positions a pounding, troop carrier over. No mail.

    Wed June 21 D16[Jerry shelled us at 12:30 Dinner time, shells dropped right in on us, Killed 4, wounded 4, God knows how I am alive, Shell also landed on M.G’s half* track, set it on fire, 3 of my pals under it Dennis Windley, Dick Hodgson, Bob Moody, both badly wounded in the head, poor old Dick, Bob died same night, It made me wild to sit or do nothing about it. Dick is my second D.R, to be killed, Dennis makes the first to be wounded. Moved to new positions at tea time, Dicks byke burnt out, Charlies byke shot
    Stefan likes this.
  3. bigfun

    bigfun Ace

    Oct 2, 2007
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    Karlsruhe, Baden-Wurtemburg, Germany
    That's great! Thanks for sharing!! Can you tell us a little about this man? And do you have any pictures you could share?
    Thanks again! Looking forward to reading more!!
  4. diddyriddick

    diddyriddick Member

    May 22, 2008
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    Nice post, Steve. It's good to see a ground level view.
  5. DanIO

    DanIO Member

    Jun 8, 2008
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    I like it.
    I'm sorry, I'm new and I don't know much. Is it a story that you are writing, or is it real, or what is it?
  6. macrusk

    macrusk Proud Daughter of a Canadian WWII Veteran

    Oct 14, 2007
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    Good post Steve. Do you mind identifying the writer and are you going to post more of the diary entries?? I hope so.
  7. steve oz

    steve oz Member

    Jun 1, 2008
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    The soldier in question was Corporal Joseph B Priestley a despatch rider with the East Riding Yeomanry.
    Yes there are quite a few more entries , its just a matter of finding time to transcribe them and post them. I will eventually post some photos.
  8. steve oz

    steve oz Member

    Jun 1, 2008
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    to bits, also Sgt O Haras, mine O.K, feel depressed, Hell of a headache, dug trench, must be reaction.

    June 22nd Thurs 17 Have been in France 17 days, seems like years Dennis Windley will live. Major Hyde has died ,his wounds were terrible, maybe it was best, Jack Helmeley, Sgt Harness, Bill Wells were the lads killed with Dick yesterday, moved to a Chateau, am sleeping on a divan, if fleas and bombs will let me *** are bombing jerry’s position. Outside Caen, Cleaned machine, Jerry mortar bomb landed on horses and blew them to bits, a nasty sight and this is called war.

    June 23rd D18 2 new D.Rs join us from England, went for eggs and milk from farms in exchange for choc* and sardines, did quite well, went to *Le Sandel*, 2 tanks shelled on my way back, but made it alright, this byke can move fast. Bed** quiet night.

    June 24th Sat D19th Early morn, on duty, Eggs and Saus* for Bfast. R.A.F out patrolling, day very hot. 2 lads slightly wounded. Reserves got most of it .went on new wire roads to miss getting shelled on Periers road. Bed 12.30.

    June 25 Sunday D20 Rough night, fighting going on, enemy shelling in large lumps, S.S.M* got panicky when tanks went out & gave stand to signal, CO. gave him hell, He is not fit for his job Hot again today, wish I was home. Shelled us again this afternoon. L.A.B machine hit & set on fire. Took padre on M/C Periers, quite a lad our padre.

    June 26th Monday D21 Slept in this morning rain during night it will keep the dust down, Got 2 letters this morning, Canadians are attacking, it will be our turn soon Heavy barrage going over I shall not be sorry to leave this part of the front. D Squad gave some Jerry guns the K.G. The 27th + 3rd Div are sure getting there, & their own back for Dunkirk*. Cherburg* is nearly in Yank hands. Things should begin to move in our sector now.

    June 27th Tuesday D21 Heavy Barrage from our side & we go into action. Jerry gave us a shelling at 9-12-&3* Started to rain, French girl took Nobbys & my photograph. One of our Typhoons jettisoned his petrol tank, it came down like a train & landed right on top of a scout car wrecking it. The whole place reeked of petrol & it’s a wonder it did not catch fire. Bed 11/30.

    June 28 Wed D22Our tanks went in again this morn 0500 hrs. things are not moving as fast as hoped for the first objective well on the way, Jerry is still shelling, Got new D R today, this should make it easier, Jerry knocked 6 of our tanks out with 88mm guns, the lads came off lucky, 2 officers killed & 1 trooper. 4 wounded 2 for blighty, artillery give Jerry a terrific barrage, he still lives however.

    June 29 Thurs D23 The battle has quietened down today. “A” squad knocked out 88mm gun, went to Anisey for milk Jerry landed a couple to burst in the air, but missed me, thank God. Rained heavily whilst I was out & I got soaked. The East Yorks took Chateau La landie. It was heavily fortified.

    June 30th ** D24 24th day in France, big attack going in shortly. C Squad have been commended for the work they did & the Brigadier said, there would have been no Cherbourgh if the 3rd Div & the 27th had not kept Jerry tied down round Caen. 1 Man killed by mortar fire. Early bed for a change.

    July 1st Sat D 25 Good night, Bomb dropped, I did not get up. Raining, nothing doing only routine work, early bed.

    July 2nd D26 Sunday Jerry shelling Gayelle & us today, Cloudy weather, Jerry kept up his barrage nearly all day, nothing much to report, early bed.

    July 3rd D27 Monday Raining, rough night, our guns having a go today, should know what mud is now, it takes me all my time to keep my byke up. Early bed.
  9. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish

    Apr 21, 2006
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    Perfidious Albion
    So where are these from Steve?
    Family member? or have you acquired the diary by purchase, or in the archives?

  10. steve oz

    steve oz Member

    Jun 1, 2008
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    All diary entries are my grandfathers.
    A despatch rider with ERY.

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  11. bigfun

    bigfun Ace

    Oct 2, 2007
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    Karlsruhe, Baden-Wurtemburg, Germany
    OK, your Grandfather! Great stuff! Thanks again!
  12. nfh249

    nfh249 recruit

    Jun 9, 2008
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    Steve, what was your grandfathers number? According to my records he was awarded a Commander-in-Chief's Certificate of Commendation - did you know that? Do you know what for?

    PS I'll try and find the picture I have of Dennis Windley as mentioned in the diary. According to my grandfathers notes on the back he was 'maimed by fire'.
  13. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

    May 21, 2007
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    What does "blighty" mean?
  14. dgmitchell

    dgmitchell Ace

    May 9, 2008
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    It was a slang term for England, used primarily by English troops serving abroad. It is derived from the Hindustani word vilāyatī (विलायती) (pronounced bilāti in many Indian dialects and languages) meaning "foreign", and is itself derived from the Arabic/Urdu word wilayat, meaning a kingdom or ministry.

    According to the sources I checked, it is a rarely used term nowadays but would have been often used during WWII.
  15. Stefan

    Stefan Cavalry Rupert

    Jul 29, 2001
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    Great stuff Steve, I've been trying to dig stuff up at my Squadron, had a word with the secretary of our Old Comrades association and he is going to talk to the other blokes and see what they can dig up for us.

    I know you've seen it but I'll tie this thread in too just to give people something to compare the diary to, a bigger picture as it were:


    Thanks again Steve
  16. steve oz

    steve oz Member

    Jun 1, 2008
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    July 7th Frid D 31 The RWRs have winkled some Jerries out of gun emplacements last night, getting ready for big attack, weather is very sullen, I hope it hangs outs. Took Padre to Deterering to see Major Hydes grave & then to Plintote. C.C has been admiring Johnny’s Cross, got letters & paper from home, had bath in copper. We had the thrill of our lives tonight, the promised battle started with a hell of a raid on Caen , a 1000 bombers & the bombs going down is terrific. The sky is full of planes, the tanks are going in tomorrow.

    July 8th Sat D 320420 hours, the big attack has started, the Artillery opened with a terrific barrage that lasted an hour. It seems like all hell let loose. Tanks are in 1st objective taken by 6.15am, more bombers over. Artillery open up again, it is now 7.45pm Jerry is slinging shells at us, nearly all objectives taken.Galmanche La Bijude..Malon....Buron..La Folie Bitot Epron .Couvre - Chef....St Contest...........Prisoners rolling in.Snipers gave most trouble, Major Platt has been shot through the head with one, only tank got sniper, Caen is just about ours, we move up to Villers Le Buessions at 12 o/c. Sgt O Hara got run over by jeep.

    July 9th Sund D 33 Who would have guessed it was Sunday. John Lawton and Bert Broughton landed from England last night. Caen is ours, my shelter I made comfortable & now we are going to move, 25 PRs moves in & nearly blue me out of my skin when they let go, very tired, raining again. We have been ordered back Luc ser mer for a rest Thank God, I’m tired.

    July 10th Monday D 34 Did not get up until 10/30 am, got our little home ship shape, went to conference then went tatting with Charlie for parts (???). James Broughton came up today Poor old Mick is in England, as I am having to do his job as well. Bed 11/pm, letter from Dick Hodgsons wife.
  17. Quis Separabit

    Quis Separabit Member

    Sep 9, 2008
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    Hi Steve

    I found your post looking for Cambes Wood and note your Diary entries which are great for providing a personal account.

    My dad was in the Royal Ulster Rifles (shown as RWR in your diary) and it seems from the RUR official accounts the ERY gave them support at Cambes and Troarn.

    I've enclosed excerpts from the RUR history for your info with mention of East Riding Yeomanry shown in blue.

    I would also recommend reading Sapper's account of his time within the Royal Engineers as he may have crossed paths at various times as he appears to have done at Cambes (shown in Green).


    From "The History of The 2nd Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles in North West Europe" published by 2 RUR

    "7th June
    About 1700 hours on the 7th June, D Company moved forward supported by one squadron of tank (East Riding Yeomanry); the rest of the Battalion remained halted at the side of the wood. A short diversion was provided here as four enemy fighters suddenly appeared and machine gunned the rear companies, causing no casualties. Here too, the first French people were met, who outwardly showed many signs of goodwill.

    On reaching the wood - the approach having been somewhat costly due to enemy snipers on the forward edge of the wood, and accurate mortar fire dropping onto the approach - the company split into half, two platoons under the Company Commander attacking the village through the left side of the wood, and the other platoon and Company Headquarters, commanded by the company's second in command, Captain J. Montgomery, attacking through the right edge of the wood.

    Immediately the company had broken through into the wood, cross fire from machine guns opened up, resulting in many men becoming casualties. The Company Commander was killed on the left, and one Platoon Commander on the right, Lt H. Greene, was wounded and unable to carry on. Captain Montgomery, deciding that the opposition was too heavy for his depleted company to overcome, ordered a withdrawal from the wood. Owing to the high wall and the thickness of the wood, the supporting tanks had not been able to give any effective close support during the attack.

    The Company then withdrew to the Battalion. and the Commanding Officer on the information received decided that a Battalion attack would be far too costly without much greater artillery support.

    During D Company's attack, the reserve companies had suffered a few casualties from mortar fire, amongst whom were Captain H. M. Gaffikin, the Carrier Platoon Commander, who was wounded but not evacuated. The Battalion withdrew to Le Mesnil where it took up a defensive position. The attack had cost D Company its Commander and fourteen Other Ranks killed, one Officer and eleven Other Ranks wounded and four Other Ranks missing, with two Stretcher Bearers from the Medical Section killed whilst tending the wounded.

    9th June
    On the 9th June 1944 the Battalion attacked and captured Cambes. The attack was fiercely resisted by the Germans, and the Battalion, two thirds of which had not been in action before, conducted itself with great gallantry.

    The picture was as follows: Cambes and Galmanche (another small village some 800 yards south of Cambes), thought to be lightly held by the enemy, were defended strongly as outposts. Buron and St Cont
    est, two villages a further 1000 yards or so south and south west of Galmanche were strongly held. On the east side, La Bijude, some 800 yards south east of Cambes, and Epron, some 500 yards south of La Bijude were held by the enemy with unknown strength.

    The general idea was for 9th British Infantry Brigade (2nd Bn. The Royal Ulster Rifles, 1st Bn. Kings Own Scottish Borderers and 1st Bn. The Suffolk Regiment) to capture the St Contest area, the attack hinging on whether Cambes was taken or not. The 9th Canadian Infantry Brigade were to give covering fire and anti-tank support during the attack from ground which they had captured some 2000 yards to the west.

    The 2nd Bn. The Royal Ulster Rifles had additional troops as follows:

    Under Command, one section Field Ambulance. In support, one 6" Cruiser, Royal Navy, the whole of the Divisional Artillery, two troops Anti-Tank (RA) - one ordinary and one self propelled. One company 4.2" mortars, one company Medium Machine Guns; one regiment of Sherman tanks (East Riding Yeomanry); and finally Royal Engineers in the shape of assault demolition and mine clearance teams, with five Armoured Vehicles Royal Engineers in support.

    It will be recalled that the ground from Anisy to Cambes is open, its distance being approximately 1500 yards, and its width approximately 800 yards. A dusty track with no bordering or fence of any description runs straight from Anisy to Cambes.

    The intention of the Commanding Officer was simple and direct; "2nd Bn. The Royal Ulster Rifles will capture and consolidate Cambes". The plan was as follows: The advance from Anisy to Cambes over the open ground was to be carried out with B Company on the right, A Company on the left with their left on the track, D Company supporting B Company, and C Company supporting A Company, the advance to be carried out under cover of an artillery barrage. The advance was to be in open order, with A and B Companies clearing the front edge of the village and guarding the flanks, and with C and D Companies passing through and capturing the far edges of the village, the whole operation requiring both wood and street fighting.

    Prior to Zero Hour, the Naval Cruiser gave a five minute concentration onto the village, followed by the Fd Arty giving a series of concentration, behind which the Battalion were to advance. The anti-tank gunners were to protect the flanks, and the East Riding Yeomanry tanks were also to assist. The assault companies, A and B, were each given a demolition and mine clearance team for use until their final objectives, when they were to pass these on to the supporting companies, C and D. The Armoured Vehicles Royal Engineers were to move forward with the Battalion ready to deal with any strongpoints.

    The 4.2" mortars were given two tasks of crumping onto A Company's first objective, and then to transfer to C Company's final objective. The Medium Machine Gun Company were (1) To cover the left flank, and (2) To consolidate on the final objectives in order to deal with counter attacks. The Battalions own 3" Mortar Platoon were to be prepared to fire on call from the Assault Companies, and then from the two Supporting Companies. The Carrier Platoon under command of 5 Company Commander, Major C. R. P. Sweeny, MC, were to remain at Anisy and be prepared to ferry up ammunition or any other requirements to the objectives.

    The anti-tank platoon were given protective tasks once the objective had been gained. and the Pioneer Platoon, whose Commander, Lt D. Greer, had left the Battalion on the 7th June to collect some stores from a dump and had not since returned, were to be ready should the Royal Engineers not be in a position to fulfil their commitments.

    At 1515 hours 9th June, A and B Companies crossed the start line followed by the Battalion O Group behind A Company. The men were well spaced out and advanced in good order, direction being steadied by the Commanding Officer from the left. As the Companies reached the ridge some 1100 yards from the objective, whence they could be permanently observed by the enemy they came under a heavy barrage of mortar and shell fire accompanied by machine gun fire.

    The Commanding Officer of the East Riding Yeomanry, who had fought with the Guards, observing the advance from the start line, said to himself "This is where they get to ground, and the attack is held up". To his astonishment however, the Battalion continued to advance in open order keeping perfect distance. Certainly there is no doubt that the Companies advanced through what appeared to be an impassable barrage with the same unconcern as that shown on a company field firing exercise.

    Men were dropping all round, but still the advance continued. A Company under Major W. D. Tighe-Wood were particularly unfortunate, losing all three of their Platoon Commanders, Lt R. S. Hall being killed, and the other two, Lt D. Walsh and Lt J. St. J. Cooper being wounded in such a way that they could not carry on. Further, one Platoon Serjeant was also knocked out. But Major Tighe-Wood, despite these difficulties, succeeded in establishing his Company upon the objective and inspired all ranks by his example of cool and determined leadership. Cpl O'Reilly finding himself the senior person left in his platoon, took command and did very good work during the difficult period of consolidation which followed.

    In the same Company, Rfn Miller finding his section leader-less, took over command and led his section with great initiative. L/Sjt McCann, A Company, was badly wounded in the face, but refused to drop out of the fight until his Platoons objective had been obtained. B Company on the right, under the command of Major J. W. Hyde, came under heavy mortar and machine gun fire from the flank about 400 yards from the near edge of their first objective. With great presence of mind Sjt Kavanagh of 11 Platoon engaged the machine guns with his Bren groups and also directed the attention of a tank on to the trouble. Subsequent patrolling located several enemy dead in the target area. The first objective was quickly taken, 10 Platoon passing with great speed through the village to the church. their final objective. One German, an SS sniper was wounded and taken prisoner.

    A and B Companies reached their first objective by 1630 hours. In passing through A Company, C Company, who by this time had the Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineers tanks under command, lost these to German 88 mm guns firing from La Bijude. These tanks manned by Royal Engineers had done great work, their crews having shown a strong desire to get to grips with the enemy, carrying out tasks which strictly they were not intended to do. However. C Company Commander, Major J. C. S. G. de Longueuil, could not communicate with them during the battle, and they fought until their tanks were knocked out underneath them. When C Company with great vigour and dash, had fought their way through the wood to their final objective, they were unfortunate in losing one of their Platoon Commanders, Lt R. C. Diserens, who regardless of his own safety, was running about in the open under fire, putting his platoon into position. This very enthusiastic young officer was severely wounded and died later from the effects, a great loss to his Company and to the Battalion.

    D Company, which it will be remembered was sadly depleted, went through B Company, and almost immediately, two of its remaining three officers were wounded, Captain J. Montgomery the acting Company Commander, though wounded twice in the leg, carried on throughout the battle, and Lt Lennox, after leading his Platoon with great determination was severely wounded and could not carry on. Had D Company not secured its objective, it is possible that the enemy could have used this portion of the village and wood to make a very vigorous counter attack. In this battle D Company lost a further two killed, fifteen wounded, and one missing.

    Immediately the leading companies had reached their first objectives, the Anti-Tank Platoon under command of Captain C. R. Gray was ordered to move forward to assist in consolidation. All gun detachments moved forward in the face of an accurate 88 mm and mortar fire, and succeeded in being manhandled into position with the exception of one detachment. This was commanded by Cpl Boyd and received a direct hit from an 88 mm shell which besides knocking out the carrier, wounded Cpl Boyd and Rfn Heald and killed Rfn Bingham. Rfn Walton the remaining member of the crew escaped without injury. The gun itself was later recovered and manhandled into position.

    Whilst consolidating against a probable counter attack, the enemy subjected the position to a vicious attack of mortar and shell fire which lasted for five hours, so that the digging in was carried out under the greatest difficulties. During the consolidation, Captain M. D. G. C. Ryan, Headquarter Company Commander, was severely burnt in the hands by the explosion of a Phosphorous Smoke Bomb, and evacuated, and Major Brooks, MC, the very popular commander of the RA Battery which had supported the Battalion since 1939, was killed.

    At the end of the day, the Battalions total casualties were three Officers and forty one Other Ranks killed, seven Officers and one hundred and thirty one Other Ranks wounded and evacuated, three Officers and three Other Ranks wounded but not evacuated, one Officer and ten Other Ranks missing, making a total away from the Battalion of eleven Officers and one hundred and eighty two Other Ranks. Many of the wounded had been amazingly cheerful, joking in the face of the most frightful wounds.

    Weeks Following Cambes Wood
    In the last fortnight of our stay in Cambes, small parties were sent off to A Echelon at Cazelle for 48 hours rest. Cazelle was about a mile North East of Cambes. It was intermittently shelled and here like everywhere else on the advanced section of the bridgehead men lived at lead half below ground. But at least a bath, a change of clothing and a good long sleep could be obtained, and this did something to assuage the hardships of life in Cambes Wood.

    We thought on various occasions that we might have to go forward from the wood to attack the positions in front of us that we had so carefully patrolled and observed. On one occasion an abortive attack on La Bijude was conceived wherein a squadron of tanks from the East Riding Yeomanry and one of our Companies were to move into La Bijude in concert with activities of the Brigade on our left. The attack developed to the extent that the tanks went forward first while B Company were waiting to debouch from the wood as soon as the armour had crossed the ridge and began to drive down into the village, but it was swiftly called off when six tanks were knocked out by 88s from the village as they crossed the ridge.

    The task was patently beyond the resources of a single squadron and a single company. On another occasion, it was thought that our Brigade should improve its positions by capturing Galmanches, Malon and St. Contest but this plan was postponed at a comparatively early stage, as it was not thought that the time was ripe to go forward on this front. Nor can there be doubt that we should have suffered heavily in attacking this position, as did the Division who took over this sector from us. As it was, we were reserved for another role, which was to prove no less difficult but ultimately more congenial."

    There is also some mention of the ERY in the battle for Troarn if of any interest.

    Hope of interest.


    Quis Separabit

    Note: Reports elsewhere show that at Cambes they were up against some of 12 SS Panzer Division - the Hitler Jugend Division and personal accounts show that injured soldiers "left to be looked after by the Germans" in the first attack were later found dead in the wood with gunshot wounds to the head.
    steve oz likes this.
  18. sommecourt

    sommecourt Member

    Apr 14, 2002
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    I haven't logged in for a while; nice to catch up on some great posts like this.
  19. steve oz

    steve oz Member

    Jun 1, 2008
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    July 11 Tues D 35 Nothing much to put in diary today, have been for a bath, cleaned m/c still resting & that’s all.

    July 12th Wed D 36 Went with Padre to see Johnnies grave, took his Cross & photographed his grave. Jacqueline took our photos, it was wet when we took it back, our Regt knocked out a lot of Mark iv,s at Caen before the battle finished.

    July 13th Thurs D 37 Mum’s Birthday bless her. Letters from ??? ???, got a new m/c in place of Dicks, a new Triumph.

    July 14th Friday D 38 No News, things are quiet, went round & got some postcards, hope to get news of Tom

    July 15 Sat D 39 Went to find Tom, no luck, moved off on advance party at 3 o/c, had to go by tank, track dust was like fog, we have taken up position over canal with commandos, we are outside Rauville 400 yards from Jerry, went out to meet tanks at 12 o/c, they did not come till 6.30 am, it was hell waiting in the cold. I was dying for a sleep.

    July 16th Sunday D 40 Hopped out of bed 9 o/c, placed signs out ME 109 came over, he was hit, but not shot down, have been to bed this afternoon & am just about eaten to death with mosquitos, Nobby nearly set place on fire.

    July 17th Monday D 41 Very misty this morn, saw young Sheppy from 11 AB. Have done a lot of work today, big attack going in soon. 8 planes over dropping bombs.

    July 18th Tuesday D 42 The attack started at 5o/c Bombers came in droves for 4 hours when the tanks went in. Prisoners give themselves up in regiments, 4 bombers of ours shot down by AA fire, we moved up with tanks through Herviolet? & got shelled on the Troan Plain?, he nearly got us that time as I and DRs go back to Escoville.........................................before the attack our tanks are outside ??? Jerry bombed very heavy at the night, he hit an oxygen plant nearly blew us to kingdom come, shall not want another night like that.

    July 19th Wed D 43 Fighting in ???, artillery shelling high ground the stench of death is terrible, nothing is spared in this war.

    July 20 Thurs D 44 ??? first thing and then it rained like hell, never seen anything like it, our trench was full. We had a very bad night.

    July 21st Friday D 45 Mosquitoes are very troublesome, still raining, the place is one vast lake, Jerry shelled us for about an hour, we would not move. Charlie & I were in a trench and jerry dropped 6 right on the edge, not one exploded[1] God, others that did nearly took our heads off with the concussion it was sheer hell while it lasted, we moved back to Escoville & I had to put the byke on a tank, the mud was that deep, got in about 10o/c Mosquito planes (???) over, very bad night.

    July 22 D 46 Sat Jerry came over before we got up, the lads shot 2 down, still raining, went to A & got some dry clothes. On the way back Jerry shelled Escoville, hit a Jeep and it blew & made a hell of a mess. Lt Jenkin has won M.M. We have got to know the Brigade is splitting up & we are moving out of this forsaken hole, got shelled, going to Hermonville.

    July 23 Sund D 47 Still dull, no rain, spasmodic shelling, still at Escoville, Raid by Jerry planes

    July 24 Mond D 48 It does not look as if we are going back now, relieving the Staffs, yes disappointing, planes over during night, nerves a bit ragged.

    July 25 D 49 Tues Up at 5o/c stood to, Canadians put in attack took 1st & 2nd objectives, Jerry counterattacked & took no. 2 back, went to ???. ??? moved, lost my riding coat, Jerry shelled Hermonville & our camp. Tanks have gone out to get those guns.

    July 26 Wed D 50 Moving today & none too soon for me. We are getting shelled pretty heavy now. Whitworth got shrapnel wounds in his ankle, went to new place neat ??? back up the line to find road for tanks, out bringing strays in till 2am.

    Thurs 27 July D 51 Resting today, no one knows what is going to happen to us on guard tonight, that’s chesty for you.

    July 28 Friday D 52 We are losing out tanks, everyone is speculating what is going to happen to us. 13/8 have gone to another Division. Staffs have gone to England, we have yet to learn our fate, went to the pictures to see (this is the Army)

    July 29 Saturday D 53 Nothing new. Painted m/c boots

    July 30 Sunday D 54 Holiday today, nothing to report, bombers over.

    July 31 Monday D 55 Up to present we are static we have withdrawn from action so I will close this book until such times as we go in again.

    Aug 18 After about 20 days we are going into the 33rd Tank brigade, we have taken over the tanks of the 148 Regt we move up south of Caen.

    Aug 19th Moved up south of St Sylvan, B Squad are off into action, up to now D.Rs do not go up into action with tank in this Brigade. The destructions around here is pathetic and the stench of dead men & cattle is horrible, saw my first Tiger tank today, a massive thing. The advance still goes on so we are always on the move.

    Aug 26 We have moved some distance, since I last wrote here. We are hammering Leisune, it is a walk over, we went on & cleared the last coop of the Seine, where Jerry was holding out, the booty captured was terrific & straight on to Rouen, the Canadians took it yesterday, up through ?arong with the Highland Division & took Vallkrie on the coast & cut Jerry off in Le Havre. Highland Division: went to take St Malo & we move up on Le Havre with the 49th Division.

    Sept 7th Moved through Balbeck to Crinquctote??. Tanks are still pounding Le Havre, R.A.F have been doing the same for three days, the HDiv? have given us the honour of wearing their flash HD in circle for scrapping with them through Bourge

    Friday Sept 8th Raining today, R.A.F bombing Le Havre, nothing much else to report.

    Sat Sept 9th Same as yesterday, also the R.A.F.

    Sept 10 Sun Moved a mile up, it’s all out for Le Havre this time the town is in ruins, Byke gone west, so shall want another.

    Monday Sept 11th Went to Deauville & collected new byke, a Matchless, a nice job, fight for Le Havre nearly over.

    Tues Sept 12th Le Havre fell at 1200 hours today. 49th Division & us the 33rd moved in. Prisoners are coming in fast. Stacks of loot. Regt move to Guerville

    Wed Sept 13th Nothing much to report, went to Le camp saw German anti tank ditch & demolitions to docks & harbour.

    Thurs Sept 14 We are likely to be here for a time, got a puncture, going to Brigade H2

    Sept 15 Dull day. D.R crashed today not much damage done. Went & looked round Le Havre, it is a mess, the war memorial is ok. Rue De Gallison has gone, alsoTransatlantic docks & all the places I knew.

    Sept 19th Tuesday We got back our band instruments from Gulens?? that the 1 st ERY left in France in 1940, the people remembered us & hope we can go & see them some time. A Sgt got busted for desertion & 6 months in jail.

    Sept 20 Wednesday Went with Ted Scott round Le Havre looking at strong points, had quite an enjoyable night.

    Oct 4th Raining very heavy all day, went out with DRs to ???. Had a good time. Charlie passed out, rode him back ok

    Oct 5 Thursday Nothing to report, no sign of moving yet, still raining heavy. Bought a pen in Balbeck ?. Guard night.

    Oct 6th Friday Better day, sun shining & letters from home. R police duty tonight at B Squad dance held at Yalchamp?. Dance not up to much, back to bed 10pm.

    Oct 7th Saturday Cold but dry today, did nothing of importance, wrote letters, had bath, great occasion these days, read till 11pm.

    Oct 8 Sunday Duty DR today, sky dull, looks like rain. ??? Borland under close arrest, caught by brigadier. His wife gave birth to a son the other day, heard we are moving up within 10 days.

    Oct 9th Monday Nothing much to report, fine day, went to ??? talked to family, we on Police duty. Regimental dance, had plenty to drink, called in to see John & finished up on rum, bed 2am. Very canned

    Tues Oct 10th Did not go on parade, felt like nothing on earth after last night, got up at 9o/c, cleaned m/c washed some clothes, they don’t look clean, trucks back from Belgium, this afternoon, will be moving soon.

    Oct 13 Friday Moving up to Belgium today, stop at Doucec? for night, went to ??? Le Grand where we were billeted in 1940 it has been bombed by R.A.F. Went through Arrass &Doilliers

    Sat Oct 14th Stopped last night at old French barracks at Doucec?, crossed into Belgium at 1030, ??? ??? Brussels had dinner at Cafe Blighty in Brussels, caught Regt up at Yestubert? passed here and Leagent ?.

    Sund Oct 15th We move again tomorrow, fine day at first but raining now. Flying bombs pass over to fall near Antwerp

    Oct 17 Monday Moved into Holland via Turnout enioven? Dutch people are very nice to us, with tanks again. Raining very heavy tonight. Slept on truck.

    Oct 18th Tuesday Still raining, plenty of running about today. Tanks run in tomorrow, bed 11pm.

    Oct 19 Wednesday Up at 8o/c breakfast at officers mess We are at ??? on 10 miles from Endioven?, hard going on byke, ground very sandy, raining on & off. Tanks took up position.

    Oct 22nd Sunday Moved up to battle positions today, working all night. Barrage opens up at 12o/c. Tanks move off at 6.30am.

    Oct 23 Monday Battle going well, Schijndel taken, tanks up to canal plenty of prisoners, weather good, went up to Jerry lines, 2 of our tanks knocked out by mines, plenty of dead jerries and our lads went in Jerry trench. One of our Scout cars blew up on a mine, crew lucky, driver has broken leg. Hellish things these mines, they are in wooden boxes, can’t be detected.

    Oct 24 Tuesday Quiet up to now, plenty of prisoners waiting for bridge to cross to canal, Sgt George Dry was killed by spandau fire at 10o/c this morning, died at 12o/c, he is one of our old E.R.Y men, he is being buried here at OdenRode? this afternoon. Stand by, ready to move N of S’Hertogenbuosh? helping Welsh Division

    Oct 25 Wednesday Moved at 5.30am, B Squad gone into S’Hertogenbuosh? , town just about clear, 1 tank knocked out, Scout car and crew missing. Artillery shelling high ground, Jerry pulled out of town.

    Oct 26th Thursday News good this morn. S’Hertogenbuosh cleared, guns moving up, Jerry moved out of range, Jap fleet hammered Russians in Norway, weather fine but dull, went to 158 Brigade, nearly got hit by mortar bomb, place is a hell of a mess, Refugees coming out of Hertogenbuosh, rough night, Jerry shelling all over the place.

    Oct 27 Friday Returned to A2 this morning. Jerry putting in counter attack, with very little result. Went to bed this afternoon. Officer sniped in his tank, very cold today.

    Oct 28 Saturday Move off this morn to new place, had to come back Jerry shelling heavy during night. ??? Sgt gone to F echelon, I have to do signs round A2 (H2?). Very cold today. Went round Jerry trenches, got oil lamp and a purse with guilders in it & writing paper & boot polish. He had been well dug in. Should have been to Tilburg front but it is not cleared yet.

    Oct 29 Sunday No stand today, things are quiet, wrote letter to Tom, hope mail comes, cold day but fine, early bed.

    Oct 30 Monday Took petrol convoy to Vught via S ‘Hertogenbuosh very cold riding. Jerry is pulling out slowly, planes over tonight, raining heavy.

    Oct 31st Tuesday H2 & 51st Welsh Div pulled out another front last night to check Jerries counter attack, cold morning, stopped raining, cleaned M/C, quiet up to now, put winter woolies on. Painted “Hull” on my byke to give it some sort of name.

    November 1 st Wednesday

    Moved today to take over position from N Hants , get ready for next attack , we had 60% casualties last go , I hope we do better. We are in Peterergh? a little village next to a windmill , Dutch are digging up some dead jerries that are in the way, good sleep , cold day , rain during the night , nothing to report today.

    November 3 rd Friday

    Dull and raining , jerry shelling near B echelon , pretty close , had bath. Plans for attack are going nicely tank crews have got 1 piece tank suit , wrote letter

    November 4 th Saturday

    Very fresh and windy , attack started at 1200 hrs , going very well , prisoners are being made to swim canal and it is hellishly cold . Brumen ? taken.

    November 5 th Sunday

    Battle nearly over , town of Heusden on River Haas fell today plenty of prisoners , went with CC to Elshout to replenish , found truck jerry captured in 1940 took it back to Regt , its ours once more

    November 9 th Thursday

    Moved today to another part of the front , raining like hell , out most of the night.

    November 10 th Friday

    Went with Charley putting signs out in truck , raining first thing got wet through , drew new tank suits and rubber hood today. On guard tonight.

    November 11 th Saturday

    Went for bath this morning found out where Tom is and wrote letters

    November 12 th Sunday

    Quiet day , Ted went to see his Belgian friends , wrote letter

    November 13 th Monday

    Ted has not returned , wondering what has happened , cold day plenty of work , big attack going in soon , went on recce.

    November 14 th Tuesday

    News of Ted , he has had a crash in Belgium , broke his leg , wrist and has lacerations on his head , bike wrecked , hope he goes on ok , moved up again very cold , attack went in at 4 o’clock , we are in a cow shed which smells badly , battle gone ok , little opposition.
    Prisoners coming in , early bed.

    November 15 th Wednesday

    Very cold this morning , frosty , went to Alst? , nothing much to report

    November 16 th Thursday

    Move to new location near canal , big attack gone in , not very nice billets , still very cold , early bed.

    November 17 th Friday

    Dull morning , turned to rain , road nearly unusable , attack going well up to River Haas? , Yanks covered it on their sector , moving over canal in morning.

    November 18 th Saturday

    Move at 7 am to Heythuijen , Our attack is still going well , went up to tanks , they are in some German barracks and have been getting shelled.

    November 19 th Sunday

    We have pulled out of action today , us and Highland Division , 49th relieved us , British troops are now in Germany , nothing much doing for us , shelling during night , early bed.

    November 20 th Monday

    Raining today , washed trailer , wrote letter nothing much to report.

    November 22 nd Wednesday

    Tanks in around Romonel ? , they had rough night , today got 3 reconditioned bikes and 2 DRs.

    November 23 rd Thursday

    Nothing much to report raining heavily . Sten firing after dinner.
    Since I last wrote here we came out of action and rested up at Audenbosch ?in Holland for 3 weeks. I had 48hrs leave in Brussells , did some rough riding round the “Wall of Death “ , we got orders to move on the 22 nd December to Louvain? near Brussells as jerry had broken through and advanced on Leige? in the American sector. Weather very foggy , we are billeted at a village called Everburg ? over Christmas , no Christmas dinner , the worst Christmas I have ever spent.

    December 29th 1944

    Had accident on the bike , skidded on the ice , new bars

    December 30 th 1944

    Moved on to South of Civey? on Yank sector , regiment in action , jerry retreating , well he was in the La Roche? last Sunday , we are in it now.

    December 31 st

    Charlie is home on compassionate leave father died , Berts wife had baby on 26 th Dec

    January 1 st 1945

    A Happy New Year to you all, new years day .Bright and fine , plenty of ice on roads , we may move tomorrow , wrote letters home , we moved up to march with 51st Welsh and then to Hotton ? and went into action with the 51st Highland Division , our job was to close the gap in the bulge , it was done by 11 th January in 2 days , we have moved up from Hodister ?, we are wondering if we shall get the job of sorting the jerries out that are cut off , La Roche is ours

    January 13 th

    Jerry bombed us big last night , gave me quite a shaking about 12 o’clock , 2 men wounded at regimental H 2ts , bike shot up with shrapnel , we might pull out of the line soon , as our job is about done.

    January 14 th

    Jerry came over at 6 o’clock tonight dropped a bomb , nearly got us and then machine gunned us , one man wounded with glass , one wireless truck shot up , C squad got 60 prisoners , 4 half tracks and a car complete with crews , now the bulge is straightened out , we have nothing on hand.

    January 19 th

    We are told we are having a different role now , we are laying the tanks up and the lads are having to train on “Buffaloes” , infantry carrying tanks,bet we are having to ferry troops across the Rhine. We moved up to Hotton? today , roads are bad , snowing heavy , likely to move soon
    Feburary 10 th

    Moved from the line to 7 days leave in Blighty , arrived at 34 Seaton Grove 6 am Wednesday morning February 14 th.
    Home Sweet Home.

    Corpl. J.B Priestley
    H 2 Squad 1 st East Riding Yeomanry RAC BLA

    [1] Note: This was his worst experience. He blessed the people who made the shells. B.R.Priestley
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