3 CLY War Diary, contributed by Alan Forrest
5/10/43 On the night 4/5 Oct. 3rd CLY received order from 78 Div to send one squadron under command 11 Brigade and one under command 36 Brigade early next morning in the TERMOLI area. At first light on the 5th Oct. the situation on 11 Brigade front was judged to be the most critical so that C Sqn who were first to cross the BIFERNO river, went to their support with all possible speed. Unfortunately after 6 tanks had crossed the ford became unpassable and owing to the size of the blow in the bridge and to continuous enemy shelling, the REs could not complete their work until 1420.
By now C Sqn had been in action continually (see separate account) and 36 Bde on the left flank of the Division were being hard pressed on the high ground DIFESN GRANDE 8175 Northwest of the BIFERNO river. The enemy attacked with tanks and infantry and was threatening to drive our infantry off the high ground and the road leading into TERMOLI from the South thereby isolating 11 Brigade. Two enemy tanks had been destroyed by our A/Tk guns.
B Sqn who were all across by 1430 were ordered by commander 36 Bde to counter-attack immediately up the high ground and advance to the TERMOLI - S. GLACONO road. Regimental HQ and the reserve Sqn. had by now crossed the river and the attack became a Regimental operation. After advancing a mile along the ridge enemy infantry positions were overrun, 20 prisoners were taken and a number of MGs captured. Two tanks of B Sqn and one RHQ tank were knocked out by concealed Mark IV specials and an outflanking movement on the right was held by further enemy fire. By this time the light was failing and the infantry were ordered to consolidate the small amount of ground won.
Casualties:- Killed C Sqn -Lt PP Knight A Sqn -L/Cpl N Read -Tpr L Wood -Tpr H Cookson -Tpr L Cutler -Tpr W Findley -Tpr R Cooper Wounded -Sgt LG Hills -Cpl J Jenkins (subsequently died) -L/Cpl B Lewis -Lt R Roberts MM -L/Cpl CT Price -Lt DH Hawkins MM L/Cpl A Richardson -Tpr F Whitworth -Tpr K Forster RHQ -2Lt DA Reid -L/Cpl C Grainger -L/Cpl G Stock
6/10/43 38 Bde were landed at TERMOLI on the night 5/6 October and were ordered to attack on the right flank in the morning with 11th Canadian Tank Regiment less one Sqn under command, 3rd CLY, less one Sqn, and with one Sqn 11th CTR and one Coy 5th Buffs under command, with 3rd Fd and one Med Regiment in support were ordered to continue the advance on the left flank at first light. The enemy tanks, estimated to be one squadron, were soon found to be in the same positions as on the previous evening and one more tank was knocked out. Considerable progress was made on the right flank in spite of the loss of two more of our tanks. However, by now the enemy was forced to disclose his position more accurately. Two of their tanks were knocked out and the others were subjected to artillery concentrations. As the attack of 38 Bde developed further progress became possible on the right and by the middle of the afternoon the enemy was forced to withdraw. A further 20 prisoners were taken and just as many dead were found on the ground, several MGs and mortars were captured. The enemy tanks continued firing as they withdrew but contact was eventually lost owing to the broken terrain. The Regiment leaguered in area 820760 with C Sqn again under command.
Casualties:- Killed A Sqn -Tpr Taylor JA -Cpl Daniels B B Sqn -L/Cpl Hancock -Tpr Hunter R -Lt E Hart wounded, subsequently died of wounds. Wounded A Sqn -Cpl M Carter MM B Sqn -L/Cpl Stovell -Tpr Mennell
7/10/43 The Regiment less C Sqn went forward at first light to same positions as on previous evening but the enemy had retired all along the line. At approx 1000 the Regiment were ordered to return to the leaguer area at 820760 where the rest of the day was spent in rest and maintenance. 8/10/43 The Regiment remained in area 820760 and continued with further maintenance. 9/10/43 Resting and maintenance in leaguer area 10/10/43 Maintenance and resting. The leaguer was attacked by low flying aircraft but there were no casualties. 11/10/43 The Regiment moved to area SW of SERRACAPRIOLA at ref 968506 across country to reform and refit. B2 Echelon which had been halfway between SERRACAPRIOLA and CHIEUTI joined the Regiment. The AFV state at this time was 29 tanks, 10 carriers and 4 scout cars.
C SQN Appendix October 1943 CO Lt Col AA Cameron DSO MC Oct 43 3rd County of London Yeomanry Appendix - C Squadron 5/10/43 C Sqn was ordered to cross the river BIFERNO at first light on 5th Oct. Our intention was to contact 11th Inf Bde and put an end to the enemy harassing of our infantry with tanks. Owing to the bridges being blown and the water 5 feet deep, we only succeeded in getting 2 HQ tanks and one troop over.
Contact was made with Inf Comdr. Orders were vague and he could give little account of his forward troops. An advance was made towards CROCE but met well sited Mark IV specials at 792762. Two of our tanks were hit and set on fire, the remaining tank of this troop, by skilful manoeuvring knocked out two of these Mark IVs. We then withdrew to a covering position, as our infantry had no crews for their A/Tk guns, and showed no sign of consolidating the ground. Two more tanks had now come up to us.
At 1200 the Sqn destroyed about 20 enemy, who were digging in on our left flank. At 1300 four Mark IVs disguised as TIGERs appeared at the brickworks at 803767, knocking out the Sqn leaders tank, when we opened fire they withdrew. The remainder of the day was spent in our FDLs, but no further advance was made, heavy shelling (150mm) and mortaring took place until last light.
The Sqn leaguered in TERMOLI with 4 tanks, where we sited the tanks as pillboxes at street corners. We were now under command SS Bde. 6/10/43 At 0330 we were ordered to the area of the cemetery 812785 to assist the SRs and Marine Commandos in the event of a counter-attack.
At 0800 the enemy attacked, supported by mortars, our A/Tk guns were again unmanned. One tank had a good position near the railway and produced very accurate fire to bear on the cemetery. The attack was repulsed with heavy casualties to the enemy who withdrew.
At 1000 another attack seemed imminent, so two Sqn HQ tanks did a sortie to the cemetery, killing 20 and destroying some MGs and mortars, number unknown.
Very accurate shell fire was experienced during the day. At 1350 a message was received from SS Bde HQ asking us to support an attack by the London Irish on our front. This was done, and when our infantry was fired on by MGs the tanks engaged and silenced them. A shoot lasting 40 minutes took place until the infantry had reached their objective. We were now out of all types of ammunition and were relieved by a Sqn of Canadian tanks.
Casualties:- 4 killed, 3 wounded 4 tanks knocked out. Enemy losses- 6 tanks.