WW II, a British focus  



War Diaries

4rd County of London Yeomanry
September 1939 To July 1944

grant2.gif - 16890 Bytes
October 1941 - Missing
November 1941 - Missing
February 1942 -Missing
March 1942 -Missing
April 1942 -Missing
October 1942 - Missing
October 1943 - Missing

January 1944 CO: Lt Col The Viscount Cranley, MC.
Jan 44 4th County of London Yeomanry
1/1/44 Still at sea. Course all day about NE. Calm sea, speed about 14 knots.
2/1/44 Our course more Easterly, sea rougher. Divine service held.
3/1/44 Sighted North coast of Ireland this afternoon. Weather rough and much colder.
4/1/44 Moored in the Clyde off Greenock. Visit from GOC who spoke to all officers on board.
5/1/44 Sailed up the Clyde and moored at King George V Docks.
6/1/44 Disembarked. Travelled to our new home station, HIGH ASH CAMP near THETFORD, Norfolk by two rail parties.
7 - 8 Organising the camp and settling in.
9/1/44 Divine Services held. Orders received from higher command for the Regt to go on disembarkation leave immediately.
10/1/44 Two leave parties left at 0815 and 1130. Capt Scott mentioned that a unit of 500 would be taking over part of the camp in 2 or 3 days time.
11/1/44 Huts to be cleared for the above unit. QM of 439 Bty called, approx 300 coming in.
3 more leave parties left. Sgt Austin and Tpr Durbin arrive, having unloaded baggage at Manchester, from Cairo. They disembarked New Year's Eve. Baggage now at Cambridge.
12/1/44 Two more leave parties left. There is only a maintenance party of approx 50 left in the camp area.
13 - 14 NTR
15/1/44 Two trucks left for Cambridge to pick up baggage. Returned in afternoon- baggage dumped until return of unit.
16/1/44 Orders received to send 4 men on the 17th to IRVING, Ayrshire, 1 man to CHERTSEY and 3 men to SEVENOAKS to pick up lorries.
17/1/44 Three 3-ton Bedfords arrived from SEVENOAKS during the evening. One missing having had a petrol stoppage on the way - two bolts on wheel nuts also sheared - lorry now off the road. Lorries are re-conditioned and not new.
Difficulty in finding fatigue men and drivers with most men away on leave.
18/1/44 NTR
19/1/44 Four 15cwt arrived from CHERTSEY. Only 2 of the 3-ton lorries used, rest of the vehicles have been parked and the radiators drained. Two LAD men detailed to maintain the parked trucks. Drivers also detailed in case use of the trucks necessary.
20/1/44 NTR
21/1/44 Four Austins arrived from Scotland, parked with other trucks.
22/1/44 Lt Woolacott arrived.
23/1/44 439 Bty left.
24/1/44 2Lts Ingram, Ambridge and Harrison joined the unit from 100 OCTU RAC (Sandhurst).
2 M/C picked up from Whittlesey.
25/1/44 First 2-week leave party picked up from the station.
26/1/44 Driver left to pick up water cart from Aldershot. Second 2-week leave party picked up from the station. One absentee from first leave party.
27/1/44 Water cart arrived. Six absentees from second leave party.
28-29 NTR
30/1/44 Divine Service held.
31/1/44 NTR

February 1944 CO: Lt Col The Viscount Cranley, MC.
Feb 44 4th County of London Yeomanry
1/1/44 Thetford
Orders received to start sending 15 of the Regt on privilege leave.
2/2/44 NTR
3/2/44 Six training Cromwells arrived.
4 - 5 NTR
6/2/44 69 ORs posted from 15/19th Hussars and 1st F&F Yeomanry.
7-15 As parties return from disembarkation leave, Sqn training commences and arrangements are made to start Regtl D&M and wireless courses.
16/2/44 Rehearsal parade for C in C's visit to the Div tomorrow.
17/2/44 The Regt paraded and marched down to DIDLINGTON HALL for the C in C's visit to the Div.
18/2/44 49 ORs posted to the Regt.
19/2/44 Special Order of the Day received from GOC 7th Armd Div complimenting all ranks on the keenness and soldier-like bearing of the troops.
20/2/44 Major HC Stockdale (late Northants Yeomanry) appointed Sqn Leader HQ Sqn.Capt BG Rose appointed Adjutant.
Capt PRM Scott to be Major Sqn Leader A Sqn.
21/2/44 NTR
22/2/44 Eight Cromwells arrived.
23/2/44 Ten Cromwells arrived. The Bde Comd carried out rehearsal for "PLUTO" tomorrow.
24/2/44 Visit of His Majesty The King who inspected the camp and tanks and was given refreshment in the mess at 1115. A number of officers were presented to His Majesty and all ranks turned out to cheer him on his departure.
25/2/44 NTR
26/2/44 Special Order of the day received from 7th Armd Div expressing the compliments and good wishes of His Majesty The King to all ranks.
27/2/44 Divine Service held.
28/2/44 Visit of GOC 7th Armd Div who inspected the camp and training.
Four Centaur tanks arrived.
29/2/44 NTR

March 1944 CO: Lt Col The Viscount Cranley, MC.
Mar 44 4th County of London Yeomanry
1/3/44 Thetford
2/3/44 NTR
3/3/44 Most of the Regt went off to Scotland by rail at 1300 for firing on KIRKCUDBRIGHT ranges.
4/3/44 13 Ford 15cwt collected.
5 - 8 Main party returned from the ranges midday by rail.
9/3/44 One Cromwell arrived by rail.
10 -12 NTR
13/3/44 Rear party arrived from Scotland by rail.
Nine Humber scout cars arrived.
14/3/44 12 Cromwell tanks arrived by rail and 2 Crusader AA.
15/3/44 8 BSA M/C arrived.
16 - 17 Sqns firing by turns on the AFV range at TITCHWELL
18/3/44 Four Bedford 3-ton kitchens arrived.
19/3/44 7 Cromwell tanks arrived.
20 - 21 NTR
22/3/44 10 Cromwell tanks arrived by rail.
23/3/44 C Sqn out all day on exercise with 131 Bde.
One ARV, one Stuart and one carrier TCP arrived by rail.
24/3/44 Two Fireflies and 3 Cromwell ARVs also 4 carriers arrived.
25/3/44 4 Crusader AA tanks arrived by rail, 11 Cromwells arrived by rail. B Sqn firing on BOYTON AVF ranges.
26/3/44 A Sqn firing on BOYTON ranges.
3 Cromwells arrived by road.
27-28 NTR
29/3/44 Bde exercise "KIWI" for Regt on STANFORD battle area, with K Bty RHA and A Coy 1st RB under command.
30/3/44 Three Cromwell Close Support tanks arrived.
31/3/44 NTR
For the month, training under Sqn arrangements had been carried out. Regtl wireless course has been in progress. In addition, officers and ORs have been going away on courses in wireless, D&M, Gunnery, waterproofing etc.

April 1944 CO: Lt Col The Viscount Cranley, MC.
Apr 44 4th County of London Yeomanry
1/4/44 Thetford
2/4/44 NTR
3/4/44 8 officers and 6 Sgts of 1st Northants Yeomanry arrive for a week's attachment for training.
4/4/44 Regtl exercise on training area.
5/4/44 All Sqns firing on AFV ranges.
6 - 8 Sqn training.
9/4/44 Three Cromwell CS tanks arrived by rail.
10/4/44 17 Chevrolet 3-ton trucks collected.
11/4/44 Regt moved into leaguer area in preparation for Bde exercise.
12/4/44 Bde exercise "SPRINGBOK" on exercise area.
13/4/44 Night again spent in leaguer followed by exercise "KANGAROO".
14-19 Sqn training.
20/4/44 A & C Sqns firing on AFV ranges at HOLKHAM.
21/4/44 B Sqn firing at HOLKHAM.
22/4/44 11 Stuart Mk V tanks and 5 Cromwell tanks arrived by rail.
23/4/44 Drivers and tank commanders practise driving on/off LCTs at LOWESTOFT.
24/4/44 C Sqn firing at BOYTON.
25-27 NTR
28/4/44 Visit of GOC Div who addressed all ranks on parade.
A Sqn firing at BOYTON.
AA tanks firing at towed targets at STIFFKEY.
29/4/44 B Sqn firing at BOYTON.
Tank drivers practised driving over scissors bridge.
30/4/44 Collected 7 White scout cars tracked.
Towards the end of the month we started sending our training tanks away.

May 1944 CO: Lt Col The Viscount Cranley, MC.
May 44 4th County of London Yeomanry
1/5/44 Thetford
Bde holiday.
2/5/44 Bde holiday.
3 - 5 NTR
6/5/44 Collected 11 3-ton trucks and 10 Jeeps. Recce Sqn firing on AFV ranges at DUNWICH. Officers dance at OXBOROUGH HALL, which was lent to the Regt by Lady Bedingfield for the occasion. We had some 200 guests from throughout the Div.
7/5/44 NTR
8/5/44 Moved by road to concentration area in Camp R5, ORWELL PARK SCHOOL, near IPSWICH. Residue remained at Thetford to rejoin us overseas later. B Echelon concentration area is in WEST HAM STADIUM.
9/5/44 Started to waterproof all tanks and vehicles.
10-16 Waterproofing continued.
17/5/44 GOC Div visited the Regt this morning.
18/5/44 NTR
19/5/44 Collected ten Sherman Mk Vc tanks.
20-26 All waterproofing now complete, except for the finishing touches to some vehicles.
27/5/44 All ranks now confined to camp area.
28/5/44 Officers briefed by GOC regarding the forthcoming operation. Maps issued under seal.
29-30 All vehicles marshalled on the IPSWICH-FELIXSTOWE road ready for loading.
31/5/44 NTR

June 1944 CO: Lt Col The Viscount Cranley, MC.
Jun 44 4th County of London Yeomanry
1/6/44 First party of Regt moved at 1630 to docks at FELIXSTOWE; loading of LSTs and LCTs commences.
2/6/44 Loading continues.
3/6/44 Ships anchor in rivers ORWELL and STOUR when loaded.
4/6/44 Delay of 24 hours due to weather; remained at anchor.
5/6/44 Move out from river at 0915, move along coast of SE England, passing STRAITS OF DOVER in darkness.
6/6/44 D Day. Pass BEACHY HEAD in morning, arrive at bridgehead and anchor at 2200. Slight aerial activity. Some tanks of the Regt unloaded.
7/6/44 Aerial activity 0400hrs. landing continues by RHINOS and beaching. Move to concentration area 813806. 3 AFVs drowned. 1 OR wounded.
8/6/44 CO makes recce as ordered in instructions for 8th Jun, sent out evening 7th Jun. 4 CLY in support of 151 Bde. Recce Sqn sent patrols out, no clashes with the enemy. Patrols reach area 810740.
1 OR wounded in action.
9/6/44 Regt remains in concentration area. Sqn Leaders go out to recce battle positions in support of 151 Bde.
1900 - C Sqn move up to support 6 DLI, 151 Bde area 815740. No contact with enemy.
Bde Comd issues orders for move 10th Jun.
Lt GE Moxon killed by shellfire in the evening.
10/6/44 Regt advanced through 6 DLI area 813745; Recce Sqn leading, followed by A Sqn left, B Sqn right, C Sqn reserve on centre line. Advance very slow. C Sqn take up position protection right, area JERUSALEM 8172. C Sqn KO Mark IV at 809719. Two Cromwells A Sqn KO'd by friends area 830720. Impossible to cross stream South of road, try and work round right flank.Locations in evening:
B SqnEast of MARCEL827694
A Sqn 830705
C SqnNorth of St. BAZILE 
RHQ 828707

One Cromwell B Sqn KO in evening. Leaguer at 830707. One Coy Gloucester Regt in support, who mine bridges at MARCEL (829693) and at 833697.
Enemy infiltrated into BUCEELS during the night.
Lt G Milford-Cottam wounded in afternoon, 4 ORs killed and 4 ORs wounded.
3 Cromwell IV and 1 Stuart V knocked out.
11/6/44 Recce Sqn advance to bridges at first light. Bridges held by enemy, but kept under observation. Attack by two Coys Gloucester Regt on left hand bridge; one Coy Gloucester Regt with C Sqn in attack right hand bridge. Both attacks successful and the first objective, the road parallel to river at 834695, gained. A & B Sqns remain in reserve area BUCEELS. Two patrols Recce Sqn pass through infantry, but held up at 839687 by two Panthers, one disabled on road and one covering. 2Tp C Sqn go round to left and destroy disabled Panther; infantry with PIAT destroy other. C Sqn advance to short of village TILLY-SUR-SEULLES in support of Gloucester Regt, who entered TILLY (8468). C Sqn withdraw to outflank town to right; close country encountered and one troop is ambushed area 832690 (3 Cromwells, 1 Firefly under Lt TS Vine).
C Sqn and Recce withdrew to battle positions North side of river (830695) to support Gloucester Regt who were being counter-attacked. Leaguer North of BUCEELS 830705.
Lt TS Vine missing, 17 ORs missing, 2 ORs wounded.
12/6/44 Recce Sqn ordered to advance down CL. Order of march B Sqn, RHQ, A Sqn, C Sqn. VERRIERES (815692) strongly held by enemy. Recce withdrew to high ground to North. B Sqn left in battle positions on ridge 810708-820712.
New orders in afternoon - Regt move at 1600 to outflank to right. Orders given verbally. Opposition encountered at LIVRY 735613. A Coy 15 Rifle Brigade attack, supported by B Sqn on right. Village cleared by last light. Leaguer at Xrds 733617.Casualties:
Lt FD Mortimer wounded.
13/6/44 Regt move forward at first light towards VILLERS BOCAGE 8157, A Sqn leading, followed by A Coy RB. No opposition and A Sqn reach feature East of VILLERS BOCAGE (area 8358). Column split at 823578 by two Tigers, RHQ brewed up completely. A Sqn continue and take up battle positions. B Sqn hold town but unable to get through to A Sqn. 1000 - A Sqn surrounded and attacked by Tigers and infantry. Call for immediate assistance, but none could get through.
1030 - CO, who was with A Sqn, reports position untenable, withdrawal impossible.
1035 - All stations go off the air. B Sqn ordered to hold village at all costs. 4Tp B Sqn, with infantry and A/Tk guns under Lt L Cotton MM, after a 6 hour street battle, destroy 4 Tigers and 3 Mark IV.
1600 - B Sqn reports village still held by us, but infantry in area 820575. 1/7th Queens attack, but fail to clear opposition. B Sqn Leader (now acting CO) ordered to withdraw Regt to 780580. This carried out without further loss. C Sqn cover withdrawal.
Major IB Aird takes over command of Regt, Major EP MacColl 2i/c, Capt FA Jarvis MC commands B Sqn, Capt KH Hiscock commands C Sqn.
Missing:Lt Col The Viscount Cranley MC (CO),
 Major A Carr (2i/c),
 Major PMR Scott MC & Bar (A Sqn Leader),
 Capt BWG Rose (Adjutant),
 Capt RRB Brown,
 Capt AR Smith,
 D Colvin,
 Lt WF Garnett,
 Lt DL Sellars,
 Lt LP Hurley (UDF),
 Lt PH Strode,
 Lt RSA Ingram.
 76 ORs.
Wounded:Lt JSW Simonds MM,
 Capt HIC MacLean (remained at duty),
 Capt P Dyas (remained at duty)
 5 ORs
Killed:4 ORs
Vehicle Casualties:20 Cromwells
 4 Fireflys
 3 Humber scout cars
 3 Stuarts
 1 half track.
14/6/44 Regt in reserve, two troops forward covering A/Tk guns. Nothing during the day.
2000 - enemy infantry attack at 785576. C Sqn go forward to seal break through. Enemy driven back with heavy losses.
2030 - Position restored, C Sqn withdraw to reserve.
15/6/44 0015 Regt withdrew to 730612. One Firefly drops out, but recovered later. One Stuart lost due enemy action.
Still in reserve. Reorganisation on two Sqn basis.
16/6/44 NTR
17/6/44 Shelled at 0030hrs; 2 ORs killed, 2 ORs wounded.
Capt FA Jarvis MC, to be Major commanding B Sqn; Capt KH Hiscock to be Major commanding A Sqn (temporarily commanding C Sqn until arrival of new CO). Lt L Cotton MM, to be Captain.
18/6/44 A Sqn re-forms and organises on a two troop basis.
19-20 NTR
21/6/44 Recce by CO of battle positions of 1 RTR, area 752645-756645-758651.
22/6/44 Recce by Sqn Leaders of 1 RTR area. New CO arrives at 2100hrs. Lt Col W Rankin takes command of the Regt, Major IB Aird 2i/c, Major EP MacColl MC, OC B Sqn, Major KH Hiscock OC C Sqn.
23/6/44 B Sqn takes over from 1 RTR at 0800. Troops at areas 750645, 756645, 759651. Recce Sqn link troops at 750645 and 765654. Sqn HQ and reserve troop at 742657. RHQ move to 745662. C Sqn in area 750661. A Sqn with A2 Echelon area 733694. No enemy seen on B Sqn sector. B Sqn leaguer with Recce Sqn at 742657.
24/6/44 NTR
25/6/44 Slight mortar and MG activity on B Sqn. Cpl Hoar returned to our lines from VILLERS BOCAGE.
26/6/44 Relieved by 8th Hussars at 0800hrs; moved to 746692. Offensive on Eastern sector begins.
27/6/44 Moved to 748700 to make room for 56 Bde in the evening.
2Lt K Horsley BEM, joined Regt from 59 Training Regt, to B Sqn. 2Lt T Tunnicliffe from 57 Trg Regt, to B Sqn and 2Lt DPM Evans, from 59 Regt to RHQ.
28/6/44 Recce by CO of possible battle positions in case of armoured break through.Lt NR Cleaver joined Regt, to A Sqn.
29/6/44 A Sqn still in process of re-forming.
30/6/44 NTR

July 1944 CO: Lt Col W Rankin
Jul 44 4th County of London Yeomanry
1/7/44 1030 - moved to 792731. Now in Corps reserve, battle role - 'long-stop' in case of enemy armoured break through.
2/7/44 CO made recce of two possible battle positions 7971 and 8576. Normal training being carried our in Regtl school.
3/7/44 Lt M Lewis joined Regt.
4 - 16 Remained in location at JUAYE MONDAYE. Training at Regtl school continued. Tanks did extensive infantry with tanks co-operation for fighting in the 'bocage' type of country.
17/7/44 Moved to CULLY preparatory to further action. Received Firefly to make up full establishment; Recce Sqn still down in Honeys.
18/7/44 Moved as reserve Regt according to plan. Three Germans surrendered to B Sqn.
19/7/44 Moved up in reserve to 3 miles East of CAEN at 095670 TROARN.
Moved at 1700 to exploit 29 Bde's capture of BRAS and HUBERTS FOLIS. HUBERTS FOLIS was not captured until 2030hrs. Regt moved to position 1000 yards North of BRAS 0663. Strafed by enemy fighters, otherwise no enemy interference.
20/7/44 Moved SW to attack VERRIERES feature 0460. 2Lt KG Horsley BEM, shot by sniper when advancing in recce vehicle. B Sqn established on Pt. 72. Met opposition of infantry and A/Tk guns and a Mark IV, which was forced to move. Heavy barrage put down in TROTEVAL 0561, and A Coy 1 RB moved on with tanks of C Sqn in support. Opposition proved too much, Coy withdrew successfully. A & C Sqns positions East of main road and NW of BRAS 0663.
1615 - approx 7 Mark VI moved across our front to attack B Sqn. Engaged by Fireflys of A & C Sqns; 2 brewed and one hit and rendered immobile. Medium guns engaged those out of view to us. Later confirmed by Canadians that five KO. A & C Sqns strafed by enemy rocket planes, no casualties.
Moved all troops East of road to make room for Canadians attacking in big offensive from IFS 0463 to VERRIERES 0561. Support given by two troops of C Sqn guarding left flank in the attack on TROTEVAL 052613. Fireflys remained in former positions, remainder of tanks moved back to 068648; remained there for the night.
1830 - C Sqn observed 8 Mark V tanks at 049614; engaged ineffectively by C Sqn at extreme range.
1930 - C Sqn and Fireflys moved back to Regt area to leaguer for the night.
21/7/44 Considerable enemy shelling brought on by location of Canadian artillery around us. Attacked by enemy fighters (approx 10), no casualties.
22/2/44 Shelling continued. Regt moving for greater dispersion. Attacked by enemy fighters, one man seriously wounded, several slightly.
23/7/44 Shelling continued.
24/7/44 Liaison completed with Canadians operating on our right flank.
25/7/44 Moved from old location to Pt.72, took up positions on right of 1 RTR. Enemy opposition met any attempt to advance in direction of VERRIERES 0560.regt deployed around the Pt.72 feature. Enemy infantry engages and several SP guns; 1 SP KO. Enemy tanks were seen moving about, but no claims were made. Heavy enemy shelling and mortaring was concentrated on Regt positions and A1 Echelon throughout the morning, and on Regt position throughout the day.
26/7/44 Regt continued to engage enemy infantry and SP guns. Indirect (RHA) and direct fire was immediately brought down on any German infantry who showed themselves. An air OP, controlling Typhoons, brought down intensive rocket attacks on targets indicated by us, and on tanks etc behind the far ridge to which they withdrew out of sight whenever we fired at them.
In the afternoon 1/5th Queens took over Regt positions and the Regt moved back to 1000 yards West of IFS. We claim one SP KO.
27/7/44 Enemy shelling of IFS and surrounding roads. Considerable ammunition was expended by the enemy shelling a block-house on the crest in front of B Sqn, it was unoccupied.
28/7/44 Moved from old location to CARPIQUET, to commence the amalgamation of 4 CLY and 3 CLY.
29-31 Remained at CARPIQUET, proceeding with details of amalgamation.

[That completes the Diary for 4th CLY. The Diary for 3/4th CLY may be found at the end of the Diary for 3rd CLY, which has also been transcribed for Bovington Tank Museum. What follows is research and personal memories prepared by L.J. Dinning, in 1995, who was posted to 4th CLY in early 1944.]


6.1.44 The 4th CLY returned to the UK from Italy via St George V Docks, Clyde, and were stationed at High Ash Camp, Brandon, Thetford Norfolk.
31.1.44 Settling in, collecting vehicles, normal routine.
28.2.44 Taking delivery of Cromwell Tanks. Normal Routine.
23.2.44 Several brand new Stuarts (American light tank) were delivered to the Regiment.
Note In part II Orders of the 16.2.44, I am listed as one of twelve persons posted from the 15/19 Hussars to the 4th CLY at High Ash Camp, and was allocated to the Reconnaissance Troop (Stuart Tanks). I recall the Stuart Tank came with a very comprehensive tool kit preserved in thick grease which could only be removed with copious quantities of petrol.
18.4.44 Winston Churchill was invited to be Honorary Colonel of the 4 CLY.
However, (in a letter signed by Winston Churchill contained in the Regimental Records), he declined the invitation because he was already Honorary Colonel of a number of other regiments.
8.5.44 The Regiment moved by road to concentration area R5 in Orwell Park School, Ipswich.
1.6.44 06.30- The Regiment commenced moving to Felixstowe Docks and loading the tanks on to LCTs and LSTs.
3.6.44 The LCTs & LSTs (Landing Craft Tank & Landing Craft Ship) anchored in the rivers Orwell and Stour ready to sail, but departure was delayed for 24 hours due to bad weather.
5.6.44 09.15- Moved out of the rivers and sailed along the South East coast passing the Straits of Dover in darkness.
6.6.44 D day. Passed Beachy Head in the morning and anchored off the Normandy coast at 22.00. Slight enemy aerial activity. Some tanks unloaded.
7.6.44 04.00- Aerial activity. Unloading continued and moved to concentration area at 813806. Three tanks were drowned. One OR wounded.
We crossed the channel on an LCT. The sea was rough, but I recall the weather was fine, and for part of the time I laid on the narrow deck looking down at the dark blue sea foaming away from the bow. It was dark when we arrived off the coast of France and we 'closed down' in the tank waiting to go ashore. We landed at first light and all was quiet. We parked on the beach, dismounted and removed the waterproofing from the tank. It was good to get on terra firma and we drank warm coca from a self heating tin. The tin of coca was first pierced and a wick in the centre of the lid was lit which immediately warmed the contents of the tin. Then we moved off the beach and I drove the tank to the concentration area.
7.6.44 The Regiment was ordered to support an attack by the 151 Brigade. Recce Troop sent out patrols, no contact made with enemy and reached area 810740.
9.6.44 19.00
'C' Squadron moved to battle area to support 6 DLI 151 Brigade in area 81570 no contact with the enemy.
10.6.44 Lt Moxham killed by shell fire in the evening. Regiment moved through 6 DLI area 813745 Recce Troop leading, 'A' Squadron on the left, 'B' Squadron on the right, C Squadron reserve on centre line. Progress was slow. 'C' Squadron took up position to protect right area of Jerusalem 8172 and KO'd Mark IV at 809719. Two Cromwells 'A' Squadron KO'd by friends at 830720, impossible to cross stream south of road and tried to work around the flank. Positions in the evening, 'B' Squadron east of Marcel 827694, 'A' Squadron at 830705, 'C' Squadron north of Ste. Eazire, RHQ at 828707. One Cromwell of 'B' Squadron KO'd. Leaguer 830707, one Company of Gloucester's in support, and mine bridges at Marcel 829693 and 833697. Enemy infiltrated into Buceeles during the night. Casualties one officer and 4 ORs killed.
11.6.44 Recce Troop advance to bridge at first light. The bridges were held by the enemy. Maintained observation, until both bridges were attacked by two companies of the Gloucester Regiment. Both attacks were successful and the objective which was the road parallel to the river at 834695 was gained. 'A' & 'B' Squadrons remained in reserve at Buceels. Recce Troop patrol observed two Panthers at 839687, one disabled on the road and one covering. Two troops of 'C' Squadron go around to the left and destroyed the disabled Panther, infantry with Piat destroyed the other. 'C' Squadron advance to just short of Tilly-Sur-Sulles in support of the Gloucester Regiment who entered Tilly 8468. 'C' Squadron withdrawn to outflank town to the right. Close country encountered and one troop was ambushed area 832690 lost 3 Cromwells and one Firefly. 'C' Squadron and Recce Troop withdrawn to battle positions north side of river 830695 to support Gloucester Regiment who were being counter attacked. Leaguer north of Buceels 830705. Casualties one officer 17 ORs missing, two ORs wounded. Regiment ordered to advance down the centre line, order of march, Recce Troop, 'B' Sqdn, RHQ, 'A' & 'C' Sqdns. Verriers 815692 strongly held by the enemy, Regiment withdrawn to high ground to the north, except 'B' Sqdn who were left in battle position on ridge at 810708, 820712. New orders were for the Regiment to move at 16.00 to outflank to the right. Opposition encounter at Livry 735613. "A" Company Rifle Brigade attacked supported by 'B' Sqdn and village cleared by last light. Leaguered at cross roads 733017.
13.6.44 Regiment moved at first light towards Villers Bocage 8157, 'A' Sqdn leading followed by 'A' Company Rifle Brigade. No opposition. 'A' Sqdn reached feature east of Villers Bocage 8358. Column split at 823578 by two Tiger tanks. RHQ brewed up completely. 'A' Sqdn continued to take up battle positions and 'B' Sqdn hold town. Unable to get through to 'A' Sqdn who were attacked at 10.00 by Tigers and infantry. They called for immediate assistance, but none could get through. At 10.30 'A' Sqdn reports position untenable, withdrawal impossible. At 10.35 all stations go off the air. 'B' Sqdn ordered to hold village at all cost. After 6 hours of street battles destroyed four Tigers and three mark IVs. At 16.00 'B' Sqdn reported village still held, but infantry in area 820975 and an attack by the Queens failed to clear opposition. 'B' Sqdn leader now acting CO ordered to withdraw Regiment to 780580, this was carried out without further loss, while 'C' Sqdn covered the withdrawal. The Commanding Officer 'The Viscount Cranley' was missing and Major Aird took command. Vehicle casualties 20 Cromwells, 4 Firefly's, 3 Humber Scout cars, 3 Stuarts, and 1 Half Track.
The above action is fully described in 'PANZERS IN NORMANDY THEN AND NOW' written by Eric Lefevre who researched the information from German War records.

According to Eric Lefevre The above described action was initiated by SS-Haupstrumfurhrer Michael Wittmann who reached the vicinity of Villers Bocage on the 12th June 1944 with his Division 1st SS Panzer Corp. On the morning of June 13, Wittmann, who was a Company Commander in the 101 Heavy Tank Regiment of the 1 SS Panzer Corps, decided to check whether a rumour that the British 7th Armoured Division had pushed into the left flank of the Panzer Lehr Division holding the front line in that area was correct. (As we know from these war diaries it was correct).

The gunner in Wittmann's tank at this time was SS-Oberscharfuhrer Balthasar Woll, who was with Wittmann when he gained most of his success in Russia. By now Wittmann had been credited with 138 tanks and assault guns, 132 anti tank guns destroyed in less than two years. Herr Voll had now been promoted and had command of his own tank which was under repair.

The small but potent force of four Tigers and one Mark IV approached Villers Bocage from the South East, and as we now know, spotted "A" Squadron leaving the town eastwards along the N175 towards the high ground of Point 213 which was about a kilometre beyond the town on the Northern side of the road. "A" Squadron halted just beyond the road junction to Tilly Sur Seuless, and not having met any opposition, dismounted to 'brew up'. At this point Wittmann decided to reconnoitre the town to establish the strength of the opposition and he spotted four tanks parked in the main street. This was the 4CLY RHQ. The CO, The Viscount Cranley had gone forward to recce the position with "A" Squadron in a scout car.

Wittmann quickly knocked out three RHQ tanks, the fourth tank commanded by the Adjutant Captain Dyas, reversed off the road behind a house and when Wittman proceeded along the main street he came up against "B" Squadron parked on the road to Caumont and exchanged shots with Sgt Lockwood in a Firefly. Seeing he was outnumbered, Wittmann returned along the High Street which at this point is called the rue Pasteur, only to encounter Captain Dyas in his Cromwell who had followed the Tiger down the hill. Two APs from the Cromwell failed to penetrate the Tiger and the Cromwell was knocked out killing two of the crew. Captain Dyas, although wounded, managed to get away on foot. Wittmann then joined the other tanks and moved against "A" Squadron which was totally destroyed with the assistance of German infantry. Wittmann's Tiger together with the Mark IV were knocked out in an ambush set by Lt Bill Cotton commanding a troop of four tanks consisting of a Firefly and three Cromwells, assisted by a six pounder antitank gun of the Infantry. Wittmann and his crew got away on foot.

By 7th August Wittmann had been promoted to command the 101 Heavy Tank Regiment and he and his crew were finally killed in a battle to hold the village of Cintheaux against tank units of the 4th Canadian Division. That evening Wittmann was reported missing and eye witnesses described how Wittmann's Tiger, fighting alone against a group of Shermans east of Cintheaux, having destroyed two Shermans and immobilising a third, his tank was finally destroyed in a battle with five Shermans firing from three sides at the same time. There were no survivors. Wittmann and his crew remained buried by the side of the N 58 road until March 1983 when the graves were found and Wittmann and his crew were accorded a decent burial at La Cambe. Block 47, Row 3, Grave 120.

14.6.44 Regiment in reserve two troops forward covering anti tank guns. 20.00 enemy infantry attack at 785576. 'C' Sqdn go forward to seal break through and enemy driven back with heavy losses. 22.30 position restored. 'C' Sqdn withdrawn to reserve.
15.6.44 00.15- Regiment withdrawn to 730612. 1 Firefly dropped out, but recovered later. 1 Stuart lost.
25.6.44 Regiment in reserve.
26.6.44 Regiment relived by 8 Hussars at 08.00, and moved to 746692. Offensive on eastern sector begins.
27.6.44 Moved to 748700 to make room for 56 Brigade in the evening.
1.7.44 10.30 moved to 792731, now in Corps reserve battle role was to be long stop in case of enemy armoured break through.
16.7.44 Remained in location at Juaye Mondaye.
17.7.44 Moved from Juaye Mondaye to Cully.
19.7.44 Moved into reserve 3 miles east of Caen 095670 Troarn, moved at 17.00 to exploit 29 Brigade capture of Bras and Huberts Folits the latter village was not captured until 20.30. Regiment moved to position 1000 yards north of Bras 0663. Strafed by enemy fighters otherwise no enemy interference.
20.7.44 Moved Southwest to Verriers 0460. 'B' Sqdn established on point 72, met opposition of infantry, anti tank guns and a mark IV. Heavy barrage brought down in Troteal at 0561. A Company RB move on tanks of 'C' Sqdn but opposition proved too much. Withdrawal was successful and positioned north west of Bras at 0663.
16.15-7 Mark VIs moved across the front to attack 'B' Sqdn. Engaged by Fireflys of 'A' & 'C' Sqdn, 2 brewed and 1 hit and rendered immobile. Heavy guns engaged those out of our view. Later confirmed 5 KO'd.
20.7.44 All troops moved east of road to make room for Commando's making a big offensive on IFS 0463 to Verriers at 0561. Two troops of 'C' Sqdn guarded their flank in an attack on Trotval 052613. Fireflys remained in support. Remaining tanks moved back to 068648 remained there for the night. 18.30 'C' Squadron observed 8 mark V tanks at 049614, engaged ineffectively by 'C' Squadron at extreme range.
25.7.44 Move from old location to point 72 and took up position on right of 1 RTR. Enemy opposition met any attempt to move in the direction of Verriers. Regiment deployed around Point 72 feature. Enemy infantry engaged with several SP's, one SP KO'd. Several tanks seen to move about, no claims were made. Heavy enemy shelling was concentrated on Regimental, and A1 Echelon positions throughout the day.
26.7.44 Regiment continued to engage enemy infantry and SP's guns and direct fire of the Royal Horse Artillery 25 Pounders. Artillery fire and Typhoon Aircraft Rocket fire was immediately brought down on any enemy targets located by us. 1/5 Queens Regiment took over the regimental positions and we moved back about 1000 yards west of IFS.
27.7.44 The enemy shelled IFS and the surrounding roads. Considerable ammunition was expended on an unoccupied block house on a ridge in front of 'B' Squadron.
28.7.44 Moved from old position to Carpiquet to commence amalgamation of the 4th and 3rd County of London Regiments.

A personal letter in the Regimental records to Lt Colonel Rankin from Montgomery reads us follows:

Dear Rankin

I am afraid I have bad news for you and I am therefore writing directly to you myself For reasons of which will be obvious to you I have got to cut down tank units, Sad as this step is I am sorry to say that it is impossible to keep on both Regiments of the CLY. The 4th CLY must therefore cease to exist as a separate unit and will be absorbed into the 3rd CLY, at any rate for the duration of this campaign. The combination of the two Regiments will be re-designated 3/4th CLY.

I weighed very carefully, a vast number of factors, including regimental seniority, present equipment, and availability of different types of tanks before reaching this decision.

When one considers the long and valuable service your regiment has rendered in the desert, in Italy, and here in Normandy, it can only increase the great regret which must be felt that its continuance as a separate entity is impossible.

In view of your regimental record in this war it is, I am sure, un-necessary for me to say there is no reflection what ever on the efficiency of the 4th CLY, and I would like to thank you for all that you have done in so many theatres of war to up hold the finest tradition of the Fighting British Soldier and especial of the RAC.

Yours sincerely, B L Montgomery.
Dated 17.7 1944.
From Tactical HQ 21 Army Group BLA.
Reference 21 AGP/1059/C IN C.
Marked secret and personal.

A personal memorandum in the Regimental Records from General Erskine to Colonel Rankin.

Please convey to all ranks my sincere regret that it has been necessary to amalgamate the 3rd and 4th Sharp Shooters.

The great work which the 4th Sharp Shooters have done in the early days of 4l in Africa, Italy and France will not be forgotten. All ranks in this Division wish their old comrades in the 4th Sharp Shooters every good fortune in the future and wish them in the combined Regiment continued success. If operations permit I hope to pay you a short visit personally.

The following is probably the last operational order given by the commanding officer of the 4th CLY before amalgamation.

Subject Regimental Role.

To Officers Commanding 'A', 'B', 'C', Recce, Squadrons, RHQ Troop Leader. Dated 2.7.44.

While in our present locality, the Regiment has three possible roles.

Paragraph 1. Code word 'Coffee'

Defensive action against an armoured thrust Northwards through La Belle Epine, Lasenaudiere. In order to carry out this role, Squadrons will recce positions as under:

  1. C Squadron about 100 meters contours 780677, covering road Onchy' river crossing 775673
  2. B Squadron above road junction 766684 Orailles / La Belle Epine
  3. A Squadron about the cross roads La Belle Epine facing east, south and west.
  4. Recce one patrol cross roads 799675 report any movement on the road Longraye and Lingedres. One patrol point 107 at 762678 to report any movement between Les Orailles and the Duquesnay.

Paragraph 2

If according to enemy movement northwards it is impossible to occupy any of these positions the regiment will take up positions as follows:

  1. C Squadron 777704
  2. B Squadrons astride the road La Belle Epine and Trungy at 772705
  3. A Squadron covering cross Roads 775722.
  4. Recce Squadron one patrol at 763702 and one patrol at 782696.

Paragraph 3 - Code Word Milk

The regiment will be in reserve in battle positions on Bute Buttedugrosorne 795710. C facing east. B facing south. A facing west and Northwest. Recce one patrol watching crossing of river Aure at 784716 and 784721. One patrol maintaining touch with 5 RTR at Benny Bochage.

Paragraph 4 - 99

The regiment will be in positions on the high ground above the 'M' in Martragy 851769. C Squadron facing east. B Squadron south. A Squadron west.

I would stress once more that when taking up defensive positions in this close country, defilated positions covering likely approaches would be the best; the temptation to occupy positions giving long fields of fire to the front must be resisted. This will only result in tanks being KO'd out of effective 75mm range and casualties from enemy artillery, once your positions have been revealed by opening fire. Observations to the front will be carried out by Recce troop and dismounted men. If we accept the principle that in defence we must adopt defilated positions we then have to face the problem of how we are to prevent enemy working right up to the tanks, the answer to this can only be infantry; I would like Squadron leader views of having one Bren gun per tank to be manned dismounted by the co-driver on occasions such as this.

P Dyas Captain for Lt Colonel commanding 4th CLY.

1939     1940     1941     1942     1943     home