WAR DIARIES, C.A.S.F.
Instructions for Compilation and Despatch
1. A War Diary is SECRET.
2. The War Diary takes the place of the Historical Record when on active service. (K.R. Can. Para. 1530). Its objects are: to supply authentic material for the history of the unit, and of the force; to furnish a historical record of operations; and to provide data upon which to base improvements in training, equipment, organization and administration.
3. Unless otherwise ordered, the original and duplicate copies are sent on the first day of the succeeding month, through the usual channels, to the A.G., 2nd Echelon, wherever that office may be. The triplicate copy may be held by the unit for three months and then forwarded, also through the usual channels, to A.G., 2nd Echelon.
4. Post-war disposal will be as under:
Original-retained at Ottawa for historical purposes.
Duplicate-to British Record Office for historical purposes.
Triplicate-to unit for custody with unit records.
5. The War Diary will be entered up daily on M.F.M. 11 and rendered monthly in triplicate (Mobn. Instr. for C.M. 1937. App. "C"). Each entry will be initialled by the officer detailed to keep the War Diary, which will be signed at the end of each month by the commander. (F.S.R. Vol. II, Sec. 35, para. 3 iii).
6. The following should be recorded daily as events occur:
(i) Important orders, instructions, reports, messages or despatches received and issued, and decisions taken. Original documents should be attached as appendices to the Original copy of the War Diary.
(ii) Daily map location, employment, movements and dispositions of unit headquarters and of batteries, companies, etc. March tables should be attached as appendices.
(iii) Important movements of officers and matters relating to the duties of each branch of the staff. A complete set of the routine orders and instructions, Part I Orders, issued by the unit during the month should be attached as an appendix to the original copy.
(iv) Detailed account of operations--to include:--Exact hour, location and circumstances of important occurrences. Movements and names of neighbouring units. Commanders of batteries, companies, etc., names of Officers and number of O.R. (i) engaged and (ii) battle casualties. Dispositions, activities and identity of enemy forces. Prisoners and trophies captured. Ammunition expended. Factors affecting operations, topographical and climatic. Maps and sketches showing dispositions of batteries, companies etc., at important phases. The record of communications, both written and verbal, received or despatched during active operations as an appendix. A complete set of the operation orders and instructions issued during the month. Notes on conferences and reports rendered to higher formations, or received from lower formations, as appendices to the original copy.
(v) Nature and description of trenches, field works or accommodation occupied or constructed. Meteorological notes.
(vi) Changes in establishment or strength. Names and ranks of officers and number of O.R.. Attachment of units and individuals. Reinforcements. Copy of Part II Orders and Weekly Field Returns of Officers and O.R. should be attached as appendices to the original copy. Changes in organization, stores, transport, etc.
7. It is essential that all copies both text and appendices are legible. Appendices will be numbered and references to the text in the last column of the form. Current issues of any regimental publication should be attached.
8. It will be found convenient at the end of each month, when the Way Diary is being completed and the correspondence in unit files for the month is being reviewed and distributed (F.S.R. Vol. I, sec. 171, para. 3) if the material considered to be of historical value in the light of the above is attached as appendices to the original copies of the War Diary.
9. A good war diary makes possible the accurate and detailed reconstruction of circumstances, conditions and action.
NOTE: If monthly diary is more than one inch thick, use a second folder. If appendices are bulky, tie folder up with tape or string to make a firm package.
PRESERVE IMPORTANT ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS FOR
INSERT THEM AS APPENDICES IN ORIGINAL COPY OF WAR DIARY
THE EXTRACTION AND RETENTION OF APPENDICES, MAPS, ETC., FROM A WAR DIARY IS AN OFFENCE UNDER THE OFFICIAL SECRETS ACT
THE LOYAL EDMONTON REGIMENT
Summary of Events and Information
Remarks, references to Appendices and initials
Petacciato, ITALY. 1 Dec 43
After a hot breakfast at 0730 hrs the Regiment prepared to move forward, its destination being an area across the RIVER SANGRO where it will relieve a unit of the 78th British Division. Since the Brig has gone forward on a recce, Lt Col J.C. Jefferson DSO ED has been detailed to move the 2 Bde Group. During heavy rainfall, accompanied by sleet and wind, Major E.W. Day ED and the 2 1/c's of all Coys proceeded on a recce to liase with the East Surrey Regt. The Regiment embussed at 1700 hrs and moved via S.SALVO-VASTO-CASALBORDINO-TORINO and experienced strafing and bombing by enemy aircraft.
Sangro River, ITALY. 2 Dec 43
The Regiment debussed at MR 435005 and proceeded across the river valley on foot between 0100 hrs and 0200 hrs moving into an assembly on the north bank. 'F' Echelon vehicles crossed the SANGRO at MR 427016 and arrived in the assembly area at 0900 hrs having covered a distance of 46 miles. Due to the very slippery roads and the may bad diversions this Echelon had been on the road for a period of 16 hrs. The Regiment remained in this locality for the whole day. Enemy aircraft continues to be very active, several bombs being dropped in the area sq 4103. Forward elements of the 78th British Div are now reported to be in S.VITO.
Rocca, S. Vito, ITALY. 4 Dec 43
Orders were received to continue the move forward and the Regiment marches across country to a plateau immediately south of S.VITO, Lanciano, sheet 147, 1/100,000. All transport was thoroughly camouflaged, the olive trees affording some natural protection from aerial observation. By nightfall the unit was thoroughly dug in. At 2100 hrs the advance continued, orders having been received to move to an area on the NW bank of the FELTRINO RIVER, sq 3511. Here the Regiment remained in position throughout the night being responsible for the protection of the bridgehead over the river. Liaison was established with the London Irish Regt and the 2nd Bn Inniskilling Fusiliers.
Colle Casarini, ITALY. 5 Dec 43
At first light the Regiment was again on the move in order to conform with the positions taken up by the Seaforth H of C and the PPCLI during the night. A bn locality was established on the COLLE CASARINI table land in the general area of MR 349096. The Seaforth H of C are now established in the general area APPOLLINARO on our right and the PPCLI are on our left a thousand yards to the SW. Enemy shelling of the area continued through the day and two vehicle casualties occurred, one a 15-cwt A/Tk gun tower received a direct hit and the water truck was also damaged. A recce was carried out at 1700 hrs in preparation to relieve the London Irish Regiment who occupy a command position overlooking the valley of the RIVER MORO and having observation of the S.LEONARDO area, sq 3311. The relief was completed under cover of darkness by 2000 hrs. Very active patrolling was carried out during the night and enemy shelling became more persistent.
Colle Casarini, ITALY. 6 Dec 43
The Regiment remained in the area of the high ground, sqs 3310 and 3410, until 2100 hrs when it was relieved by the 48th Highlanders. At this time the task of the Regiment was to push through the PPCLI who had formed a bridgehead across the RIVER MORO and were in the general area of V. ROATTI, sq 2109, the objective being the high ground to the SW of the town. Due, however, to the Engineers having been prevented from constructing a satisfactory crossing over the river, the unit did not complete this move...
Colle Casarini, ITALY. 7 Dec 43
During the early hours of the morning liaison was established with the Royal West Kent Regiment, their Regiment being one of the units of the Indian Bde which are located in the general area of FRISA, sq 3006. The rifle Coys remained in position throughout the day. Since they were very well dug in, very few casualties were suffered from the increasing enemy shell fire. The Hun is using mortars and the six barrelled NEBELWURFER to great advantage searching out any reverse slopes which he cannot reach effectively with his arty. Bn Hq moved to MR 338098. In the evening an 'O' Group was ehld [sic.] in order to prepare for future operations across the RIVER MORO.
Colle Casarini, S. Leonardo, ITALY. 9 Dec 43
Enemy recce planes and fighters flew over at first light this morning. The German guns and our own guns are having arty duels. Kittyhawk bombers flew over the Regt's position at intervals during the day carrying out raids on the BOSCHE on the far side of the river. At 0940 hrs it was reported that a Coy of the Seaforth H of C and a squadron of tanks had successfully crossed the river and were forming a bridgehead. AT dusk the Regt proceeded across the MORO and a Bn locality was established astride the S.LEONARDO feature. Lt Col J.C. Jefferson DSO ED was given the task of organizing the bridgehead defence. The troops involved in this task were the 14th CTR (Calgary Regt), the Seaforth H of C and also 'A' and 'C' Coys of the 48th Highlanders. The enemy continued his shelling of the town, the crossing place on the river and the general vicinity during the night. The organization of the defence was completed during the night and although counter attacks were expected at any time, no serious threat to the bridgehead developed.
S. Leonardo, ITALY. 10 Dec 43
Our patrols as well as German patrols are very active. Eleven Germans were taken prisoner, one being a Lieut of the 155th Regt and the others belonging to the 165th Regt. The advance of the Regiment continued at 0945 hrs, the first objective being the ridge SE of the ORTAGNA lateral road. The unit is then to exploit to the cross roads at MR 323142 and to hold that area. For this operation 'C' Sqdn, 14th CTR, is under comand [sic.] as also is one pln of the SLI (MG). In addition to the two FOO's from the 3rd Rd Regt., RCA, a CRA's representative moves with BN Wq in the person of major E.L. dePoncier. Due to a counter attack by the enemy in the S.LEONARDO area, 'C' Coy remained in the town. By nightfall the Regiment, after heavy fighting all the way, had reached a position on the rising ground around toward the ridge in the general area of MR 325135. Severe enemy MMG and LMG fire showered the area and the German guns harrassed the locality continually. Very active patrolling is being carried out.
S. Leonardo, General Area MR 324135. ITALY. 11 Dec 43
At first light this morning 'C' Coy, who had been left in S.LEONARDO, moved up to join the Bn. A now plan of attack was developed to endeavour to find a weak spot in the German defence. 'A' and 'C' Coys made some gains but very heavy opposition was encountered. At night the PPCLI moved up behind us and on our right flank, their objective being the plateau in the general area, sq 3315, where liaison is to be established with patrols of the Hastings and Prince Edward Regt. Heavy fighting continued throughout the day and persistent enemy shelling harrassed the area. Our Arty retaliated with heavy concentrations and the 4.2 and our own 3" Mortars are searching out all gulleys and reverse slopes.
S.Leonardo, General Area MR 325135 and 327133, ITALY. 13 Dec 43
Early this morning the Carleton & York Regt moved to a forming up position immediately in the rear of the Regt's area in preparation for an attack which will be launched by them at 0700 hrs. A large arty programme has been arranged to support this attack. At 0530 hrs the Regt commenced thinning out by sections and at 0630 hrs had dug in in Coy localities in the general area MR 327133. A new junction point was established with the PPCLI on the right and constant patrolling continues. The Carleton & York's attack was not successful as they encountered very heavy opposition, particularly from well sited and well dug in MMGs. The barrage which commenced at 0700 hrs, having lifts of 100 yards in five minutes, was stopped at the third lift, and the Carleton & Yorks reorganized in the areas formerly occupied by the rifle Coys of the L Edmn R.
S.Leonardo General Area MR 327133, ITALY. 15 Dec 43
Our snipers are harassing the German very effectively having taken a toll of six confirmed enemy dead and six wounded. The R 22 Regt, who are approximately 2 km to the SW of the Carleton & York Regt, reported that thy had encountered local enemy counter attacks. POWs from the 1st Coy, 190th Eng Bn, reported that they should have been relieved by Paratroops during the night but due to our effective Arty fire the relief was not completed. Our Scouts assisted the FOOs in locating targets, resulting in the destruction of 4 German MMGs. One of our fighting patrols accounted for six of the enemy. Several booby trapped areas, including two houses, have been cleared by the Pioneer Pl.
S. Leonardo, General Area MR 327128, ITALY. 16 Dec 43
The Regiment remained in position astride the main axis of advance throughout the day. 'A Coy, suppported by one troop of the Calgary Tank Regiment, assaulted an enemy locality situated between them and the P.P.C.L.I.. The elimination of this German outpose strengthened the security of the unit as it turned out to be a likely line of approach for a counter attack. Our fighting patrols constatntly harass the enemy. German patrols are also very active, endeavouring to loate our positions.
S.Leonardo, General Area MR 327128, ITALY. 18 Dec 43
The attack by the 1 Cdn Inf Bde under an intense artillery barrage resulted in the 48th Highlanders reaching the general area MR 306127. The R.C.R. then pushed on and consolidated in the vicinity of MR 315125 at 1600 hrs, where strong opposition is reported from the ground which was our regiments objective. A force consisting of 'C' Squadron, The Three Rivers Regt, 'B' and 'D' Coys The Loyal Edmn R, under command of our 2 i/c Major E.W.Day ED, is now organized ready to move when ordered. The task of this force will be to cut the ORTONA - FRANCAVILLA al MARE road near the road and track junction at MR 320180. In the meantime the artillery are harassin gthe main ORTONA road.
S.Leonardo, General Area MR 327128 ITALY. 18 Dec 43
The forces consisting of 'B' and 'D' Coys and 'C' Squadron of The Three Rivers Regt organized to cut the main coast road north of ORTONA was relieved of its task this morning. It has now been decided that The Loyal Edmn R will advance on ORTONA, seize the ridge on the outskirts of the city and exploit into that German stronghold. In preparation for this advance our pioneers are working with the engineers to clear the approaches to the forming up position. Numerous Teller mines and booby traps have been removed. This afternoon the R.C.R. were reported to be mopping up the ground which is to be the starting line for our attack. POW taken in this area now total 17, one of them being a German Lieutenant.
Ortona, Ortona Sheet 141 - 2, 1/50,000, Sq 3315, ITALY. 20 Dec 43
The regiment, supported by 'C' Squadron, The Three Rivers Tank Regt, advanced under a barrage on a two Coy, two Troop front at 1200 hrs today. The start line was astride the ORTONA road 100 yards forward of the crossroads at MR 322142. After very heavy fighting the regiment reorganized as follows: 'B' Coy the general area MR 333164, where liaison was established with 'C' Coy of the Seaforth H of C who had fought their way up the coast road; 'D' Coy to the northwest of 'B' Coy astride the main road; 'C' Coy at MR 328158; 'A' Coy and Bn Hq at MR 332160. Seventeen prisoners, identified as II Bn 4 Regt 1 Para Div, have been taken during this advance. Very active patrolling continues while the regiment consolidates its gains for the night. 'C' Coy is particularly active on the open left flank. Enemy arty continually harass us and our own arty and MMGs reply. Under cover of darkness the Sask L.I. MMG Pl, under command, move up and dig in in the 'C' Coy area. The 6 Pdrs of one troop of the 90th A/Tk Battery also move into position.
Ortona, ITALY. 21 Dec 43
The unit renewed its attack on ORTONA at 0700 hrs. Street fighting continued throughout the day. The enemy is well supplied with MMGs in dug in positions behind stone barricades. Hand grenades are being used to a great extent by both sides. Tanks are hampered by demolitions and mines but they are providing covering fire. Two enemy A/Tk guns and one 81 mm Mortar have been captured. Three POW have been taken. At nightfall, consolidation of the first city square at MR 331165 is organized and very active patrolling continues.
Ortona, ITALY. 22 Dec 43
Street and house to house fighting continues. The enemy is showing a desperate resistance. Our 6 Pdr guns are engaging barricades and strong points to clear a passage for tanks. Since the Hun has blown down buildings to block off all the streets, it has been decided to concentrate on the clearing of the main axis through the city to enable our tanks to advance. 'D' Coy, flanked by 'B' Coy on the right the city to enable our tanks to advance. 'D' Coy, flanked by 'B' Coy on the right and 'A' Coy on the left, clear the main street to the second city square where concentrated MMG fire and strong opposition is encountered. Clearing of the large buildings adjacent to this street, particularly towards the Esplanade, necessitates continuous fighting by these three Coys. Meanwhile to harass the enemy on the left and to minimize the effectiveness of his fire, 'C' Coy raid a Hun locality on a slope to the NW of the city. They then take up a position in the Sports ground to protect the left and rear of the regiment.
Ortona, ITALY. 23 Dec 43
Due to the severity of the battle and the fact that 1 Para Div is reinforcing ORTONA with fresh troops, the Seaforth H of C have moved up on our left. for operational purposes the city is to divided, the Seaforth H of C will attack at 1200 hrs having the task of clearing the left sector, that is left of the second street NW of the main road through the city. The Loyal Edmn R will clear from that street on including all the NE. Having blasted away two obstacles with 6 Pdrs and having driven the enemy out of several more buildings, the regiment consolidated the general area of the second city square at about MR 333169 by nightfall. One troop of tanks engaged the upper floors of all buildings, forward of our own troops, during the mopping up. Severe enemy sniping was prevalent throughout the day. The tank guns do excellent work neutralizing enemy fire. Eight POW including two CSMs and two Sgts are taken and another enemy A/Tk gun is knocked out. Due to evacuations and casualties the regiment is now operating on a three rifle coy basis consisting of 60 men in each company.
Ortona, ITALY. 24 Dec 43
The enemy resistance stiffens, fresh troops reinforce the garrison, a flame thrower is used against us. Two 17 Pdr guns take up a position on the coast road and shell the area in which the flame thrower is operating and also the fort. Our medium Arty also shell the fort. House to house fighting continues in the very narrow lanes and streets while our arty shell the coast road, the cemetery and also targets on our left flank. Our 3" Mortars do very excellent work in close support of the riflemen. Seventy five reinforcements arrive, these augment the depleted strength of the three rifle Coys. Ten wounded POW of the 1 Para Div receive treatment at the RAP.
Ortona, ITALY. 25 Dec 43
The Seaforth H of C have now cleared a sufficient distance on our left to close the open flank. Shortly afterward they were counter attacked but the Hun was driven back. Our rifle Coys are attacking towards the third city square and the fort. The enemy is strong both in men and MMGs. Our progress is slow since we are continually harassed by Paratroop Snipers and grenade throwers. Tanks and 17 Pdr guns shell the esplanade and the built up area towards the fort. Our 6 Pdrs also engage the top floors of the buildings. Two of our tanks are knocked out by AP shot. Two POW are taken. The Regiment consolidates its gains forward of the second city square astride the main road and esplanade. Under cover of darkness our Pioneers blow the entrance to a tunnel in 'B' Coy area as the Hun may use this to reinforce his garrison.
Today is our fifth Christmas on Active Service and the fiercest fighting so far encountered continued throughout the day. In spite of the heavy fighting the day was not without its lighter moments. In the evening a very good Christmas dinner consisting of roast pork and trimmings and Christmas pudding was enjoyed. Chocolate bars, cigarettes and bottled beer was also distributed to the troops. All ranks greatly appreciate the work of the 'Q' Staff, Capt J.McBride, all the CQM Sgts and the cooks who worked under great difficulties to prepare, transport and distribute the dinner which was served to a few men at a time, as they were relieved from the line of battle.
Ortona, ITALY. 26 Dec 43
House to house fighting continues throughout the day. Tunnels, which the enemy were using to change positions quickly, were discovered by our forward platoons. These tunnels were quickly put out of use the exits being blown up by our Pioneers. The enemy in his determination to stop our advance used a flame thrower again today but failed to accomplish his purpose. Several more city blocks of flats were cleared and occupied by out troops. The 12 CTR lost two tanks int their support of us, one by a beehive and one knocked out by a 50 mm gun which was later destroyed. A/Tk guns, 6 and 17 Pdrs firing over open sights, were of great assistance in knocking down buildings occupied by the enemy. The Regiment now controls the entrances to "Cathedral" square, the third and last major city square.
Ortona, ITALY. 27 Dec 43
One hundred reinforcements arrived during the night and the majority have been posted to re-form 'C' Coy in order that the regiment can operate on a four rifle Coy basis. Capt. P.G. Wright, who joined the battalion on 25 Dec 43, took over command of 'C' Coy. A large percentage of these new men have come from the Cape Breton Highlanders, the regiment which the Minister of National Defence, Colonel R.L. Ralston, commanded in the last war. 'C' Coy may now be called the "Bluenose Coy". The enemy being unable to stop our daily advance attempted a new act of terror to discourage us from occupying buildings. Early this morning the Huns sent a small patrol out to determine our occupation of a building. This being established, the enemy returned to their own lines and in the matter of a very few minutes blew the building up. One Pl consisting of one officer, Lieut E.B. Allen, and twenty three men were trapped and buried in the rubble before they had a chance to make an escape. Not being satisfied the Hun continued to harass the area with grenades but this did not stop our Pioneers from continuing their efforts in an attempt to rescue the buried men. By nightfall four men were rescued and evacuated and the body of one man was removed. In retaliation 'A' coy blew up two buildings in which Germans were heard talking, in one of the buildings a Basche Officer was issuing orders. The CO, Lt Col J.C.Jefferson DSO Ed, laid on an area shoot for our 3" Mortars which proved to a field day 1100 HE bombs being expended. Since we now control by fire the third city square, opposite the doomed cathedral, the end of the battle is now in sight. The Hun has not many remaining buildings from which to manoeuvre or make a major stand.
Ortona, ITALY. 28 Dec 43
At 0945 hrs this morning our patrols reported that the area of ORTONA FORT had been cleared of the enemy. Shortly after, our 8 day battle for the city came to an end when it was declared clear of the Hun. The Pioneer and Carrier Pls have redoubled their efforts digging in hope that some of the remaining 19 buried men may still be alive. Three enemy Folke Wolfes followed up the German defeat in ORTONA sweeping in from the sea in an attempt to machine gun and bomb the streets. Our A.A. gave them a very hot reception and they were forced to unload their bombs beyond the city. as a rule the foe either removes his dead or buries them on the spot. Ortona has been the exception , approximately one hundred dead have been left lying due to his hasty withdrawal. The P.P.C.L.I. keep up the pressure by advancing two Coys through us. They consolidate astride the coast road 2 km north of the wrecked and battered city. Our position has been consolidated in ORTONA as follows: 'A' Coy at MR 329167, 'B' Coy at MR 333174, 'C' Coy at Mr 332168 and 'D' Coy at MR 332171.
Ortona, ITALY. 29 Dec 43
A Muster Parade of the Regiment, by Companys, was held this morning. Reorganization of the Rifle Coys and the posting of new personnel to the Coys is the major activity. The ammunition expenditure of the regiment in the 8 day battle for ORTONA was very high. The extensive use of our A/Tk guns resulted in an expenditure of 918 shells. The 3" Mortars expended 4050 bombs while the Rifle Coys used 57,000 rds of .303, 4,800 rds of TSMG, 160 rds of PIAT, 2,000 rds of 2" Mortar, 600 #36 grenades and 1,200 #77 smoke. The Carleton & York Regt on the right flank of the 3 Cdn Inf De are now in contact with the enemy forward of the two P.P.C.L.I. Coys, 4km out of ORTONA astride the coast road. The P.P.C.L.I. Coys are being withdrawn to rejoin their Regiment in the ORTONA area.
Ortona, ITALY. 30 Dec 43
Today is general clean up day and the Mobile Bath is available to all ranks, who, due to continued enemy shelling, bathe in small parties. All weapons are being thoroughly checked. The Armourer Sgt and his assistant are reconditioning some damaged equipment and they have been able to salvage several rifles.
Ortona, ITALY. 31 Dec 43
Lt Col J.C.Jefferson DSO ED attended a Bde 'O' Group at which plans for future operations were discussed. Brig B.M.Hoffmeister DSO, Comd 2 Cdn Inf Bde, who had earlier in the morning attended a Div 'O' Groups where he had been complimented on the conduct of the Bde, expressed his desire to have the men of The Loyal Edmonton Regiment complimented on the splendid part they had played in bringing the fierce battle of ORTONA to a successful conclusion. Considerable reminiscing has been going on today due to the fact that four years ago the Regiment landed on the soil of England. M 16294 RSM Sachse, A.C. MBE and M 16179 RQMS Shoubridge, C.F. were despatched to 4 Bn 1 CBRD pending their posting to other duties. M 15514 CSM Bowen, R.O. is now the RSM of the Regiment while M 16485 CQMS White, H.W. assumes the duties of RQMS.
(J.C. Jefferson) Lt Col, Officer
Commanding, The Loyal