1944 War diaries for 11th Btn West Yorkshire and 2/6th South Staffordshire regiments

Discussion in 'British Army Units - Others' started by Tim Havard, Aug 2, 2020.

  1. Tim Havard

    Tim Havard Member

    Hi all, could somebody please point me in the direction of the War diaries for 11th Btn West Yorkshire and 2/6th South Staffordshire regiments for May to August 1944 at all please?

    My grandfather, Maldwyn Douglas Havard served in both units, transferring from the West Yorks to S.Staffs on 15th July, 44.

    Through a combination of his service records and anecdotal family stories I’m aware of the following:

    > He arrived in Normandy after 6th June
    > He arrived at Arromanches
    > He may have been on grave digging duty
    > He had dispatch rider duties at some point
    > He transferred to 2/6th S.Staff on July 15th
    > 2/6th were involved in Operation Pomegranate attacking Noyers-Bocage on July 16th, he was reported missing the same day

    Where I need help understanding is:

    > What date the 11th Btn West Yorkshire Regiment we’re transported to Normandy?
    > Were the Battalion tasked with digging graves?
    > Did 2/6th South Staffordshire Regiment numbers need replenishing before Operation Pomegranate?
    > How many others would have been reported missing on the same day?
    > What the war diary says about Noyers-Bocage?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated, thanks in advance. Regards, Tim

    DAVID PEACH Member

    Better late than never:

    Not sure about West Yorks but:

    2/6th South Staffords as part of 59th Division arrived in Normandy on 26th June. The division took part in operation Charnwood on 8th July - they took over the line at Cambes North of Caen on 5th/6th. The regiment attacked Galmanche at H Hour on 8th July (0420) and fought against elements of 12th ss Hitlerjugend. The enemy were in very well prepared positions and trench systems and the attack stalled in the Standing Corn. By the end of the day the battalion was withdrawn and the trench system wasnt cleared until the following day with the help of AVREs.The battalion remained in contact with the enemy and on the battlefield until 11th July. By this date the 2/6th South Staffs had taken 199 OR and 16 Officer Casualties. So about 1/3rd of their strength. The diary mentions absorbing reinforcements from its own 2nd line and left out of battle soldiers. It was in rest areas reforming from 12th-14th and then moved to the Fontenay le Pesnel area to prepare for Pomegranate. As Pomegranate started on 16th a transfer on 15th would be very late in the day - possibly it was formalised on 15th but he may have joined them on 12th-14th.

    Pomegranate was a diversion to take German focus from the US breakout from Avranches (or so the War diaries say) - it was more likely a holding action to support operation Goodwood on 18th July - which explains why the operation ended on 18th July.

    Phase 1 of Pomegranate was on morning of 16th and Phase 2 was due in the afternoon at 1.30pm but didn't get started until 1730 due to minefields around Queudeville (friendly and enemy) having to be cleared by Flail tanks. 2/6th South Staffs were in Phase 2 attacking with the objective of capturing the station and orchards North East of Noyers Bocage from Queudeville. They were supported by Shermans from 33 Armoured brigade (144 Royal Armoured Corps - who produced a thorough report of the action). 144 RAC noted that the infantry companies were understrength at the start of the attack. A Coy attacked North of the road from Queudeville to Noyers and C Company South of the road. In summary they met stiff resistance but reached their objective and closed to hand to hand combat but could not consolidate the objectives before dark due to the shortage of infantry and a stalemate with the enemy. The tanks had to withdraw and the infantry dug in at point 126 North of Noyers and in the orchards to the North East. They resumed the attack the following day. The 2/6th then withdrew with 7th Batallion SSR taking over. On the 18th a full brigade attack supported by Crocodiles, tanks, AVREs and Divisional Artillery still failed to take Noyers.

    During the whole action on 16th and morning of 17th 2/6th South Staffords lost 4 ORs killed, 4 officers wounded and 77 ORs wounded and 19 ORs missing. The high number of missing likely due to the battalion having to withdraw from its objectives at nightfall. 3 tanks were lost and one Sherman Firefly abandoned due to electrical failure.

    According to the war diary the enemy was made up of 3rd Pioneers from 276 Infantry Division and 989 Grenadiers of 277 jaeger Divisions. They contained Austrians, Poles and Russians (one only 15 years old), as well as Germans 2/6th took 88 prisoners in the action. 144 Tank regiment noted that this was a tough, hand to hand, close quarters battle once the infantry were on the objectives which were taken "by the bayonet".

    Post campaign it became known that they were bolstered by elements of 2nd panzer and 9 SS Panzer Divisions - specifically the reconnaissance battalion of 9th ss led by Victor-Eberhard Grabner - who was awarded the Knights Cross for his leadership at Noyers in bolstering the defence. He was awarded his knights cross on 23rd August and on 18th September 1944 he was killed in a 2 hour long battle on Arnhem Bridge leading the famous vehicle borne Assault on Frosts Paras.

    On another note the remains of the same 9th ss recon battalion was to wreak havoc on 2nd Battalion South Staffs as they advanced up the River road at Arnhem in an attempt to reach Frost - they were positioned in the brickworks across the river and used their 20 and 37mm in flanking fire.
    davidbfpo likes this.
  3. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    Thanks for the update, Tim has not been aboard since January 2021, so I have sent a PM to have a look at your post.

    I note tour reference to Poles fighting in a German formation, not seen that before. Would they have been from the German min9ority that had lived in Poland after 1918, rather than native Poles? A digression I know.

    DAVID PEACH Member

    I guess so - not sure - it was written up in the war diary as well as in the report by the CO of 144 RAC - I suppose it could have been just one!! I think Poland as a nation was very young so still consisted of Germans/Poles/Ukranians/Belarus/Estonians/Latvians and Czechs all with their own alliances

    DAVID PEACH Member

    Let Tim know that I know a lot about this action as my Grandfathers nephew was killed in Action on 16th July at Noyers serving with 2/6th South Staffords and my father went on the serve with 2nd South Staffords post war - his family have a long tradition of service with the Staffords from Victorian times onwards
  6. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    See here > Poles in the Wehrmacht. | WW2Talk
  7. Tim Havard

    Tim Havard Member

    DAVID PEACH davidbfpo thank you both very much for sharing the above information and reaching out to me. Greatly appreciated.

    Does the war diary make any reference to a specific field hospital at all do you know please?

    My grandfather was seemingly injured in Noyers and was later given a medical discharge after a long recuperation period.

    DAVID PEACH Member

    Not that i can see - my intuition is that the Casualty Clearing Station was near Fontenay as thats where the cemetery is located and when they reinterred field graves it was usually around Casualty Clearing stations. Then there were large field hospitals clustered around Bayeux which i think is where most British Wounded went from the CCS

    DAVID PEACH Member

    PS West Yorks did not have a Battalion in Normandy only in far East or Italy (and there was no 11th in WW2). There was Hallamshire (1 Battalion York and Lancaster), The DLI (many bttns), 1/4th Kings own Yorkshire Light Infantry and the 1/6th and 1/7th Duke of Wellingtons (West Riding) who were all west Yorkshire regiments (49th Div being West Riding Division)
    One possibility is that he was in 1/6th Duke of Wellingtons (West Riding) which was disbanded on 6th July, many of soldiers being sent to 1/6th but some to other regiments in the second week of July.

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