2nd Northamptonshire Regiment

The diary of the 2nd Northamptonshire Regiment was lost during the move through Dunkirk and the entries below were reconstructed by those that got back to England.

 

25th May

19:00

Battalion re-organised at Seclin. At 19:00 hrs orders were received to be prepared to move by M.T. at ½ hrs notice.

22:00

No M.T. arrived that night.

 

26th May

03:00

No M.T. had reported by 03:00hrs. The Battalion moved by march at 03:30 hrs. Route via Templmars on the road Seclin – Lille and after a long delay were picked up by M.T. and proceeded to St. Eloi.

12:00

Bus column came under fire in Messines and the Battalion debussed and continued by route march, arriving at St. Eloi at about 12:00hrs. Battalion occupied a position on Ypres – Comines canal, facing N.E. A company left, D company centre, B company right, no reserve.

6th Seaforths on Bn right, 2nd RSF’s on right of 6th Seaforths.

22:00

That night whole line moved forward to line of railway to conform to 150th Bde on left. No contact that night.

 

27th May

13:00

During the early afternoon B and D companies in contact with the enemy on canal line, but maintained their position. A company advanced posts occupied alternative positions.

16:00

Road bridge blown up at 16:00hrs

16:30

At about 16:30 hrs, A company reported that they were unable to get in touch with 150th Bde on left. One section of carriers under 2/Lt. Roche was sent up to watch A companies left flank. 17:00 - Bn fighting patrol was sent to report to O.C. A company at 17:00hrs, to carry out patrols on A company’s front during the night.

20:00

At about 20:00 hrs enemy attacked strongly and drove back 2nd RSFs on Bn Right. B and D companies fell back to a farm on the ridge 400 yards N.E. of Bn HQ. A company not attacked and maintained positions. 2nd in command (Major Watts) was ordered by the C.O. (Major Wetherall) to take up a party of stragglers to RSFs and detail 58th Bn HQ to the ridge. About 50 men were collected and taken up. Four men were wounded on the advance by enemy M.G. fire. The party got to the ridge and took up a defensive position.

22:00

The situation then became stabilised. B and D companies remained in the area of the farm that night.

23:30

About 23:30 hrs the Bde commander arrived and gave orders for B and D companies to try to re-occupy their position on the canal. He said that 10th infantry Bde were to take the battalion position at dawn.

 

28th May

05:00

B and D companies attacked at first light, but met with strong enemy opposition and were unable to advance. B and D companies remained on ridge and in farm and suffered heavy casualties from artillery and mortar fire.

06:00

At approx 06:00 hrs, 2nd in command was sent off to find 10th Inf Bde. Only one company of D.C.L.I were found.

07:00

Approx 07:00 hrs C.O. went off to the right flank, alone. He was not seen again.

07:30

Heavy M.G. and rifle fire opened on Bn H.Q. from ridge on right flank.

08:30

Message from O.C. D company to say that he had very few men left and could not hold out much longer. B company also reported many casualties. Detail from Bn H.Q. was sent to D Company to re-enforce.

09:00

Approx 09:00 hrs 2nd in command went in a carrier with carrier officer driving to inform Bde of the situation. Carrier was repeatedly hit on the St Eloi – Messines road. Bde H.Q. located at Wyschaete. On return journey carrier was hit by an anti-tank shell and put out of action. 2nd in command and carrier officer made their way on foot approx 200 yards of Bn H.Q. but could get no farther on account of M.G. and Artillery fire. Stragglers were collected and the party returned across country and reported to Bde H.Q.

16:00

O.C. D company was met, who reported enemy in possession of farm and ridge. About 40 N.C.O.s and men of the battalion were collected at Bde.

21:00

Bn withdrew by M.T. to Drie Ridders under orders of the Bde.

 

29th May

05:00

Spent the day in farm at Drie Ridders. That night, a composite force of 17th Bde with 6 carriers under command of Major Watts held a position on the Yser canal. No Contact.

 

30th May

04:30

Composite forces withdrew. Vehicles were sabotaged at Houtham and force marched to sandhills north of Moeres and remained that day under cover. A composite battalion, called 17th Brigade Battalion was formed under the command of Major Watts. 2/Lt. R.C.R. Roche acted as Adjutant.

 

31st May

12:00

Great air activity. No Casualties

16:30

Battalion remained at Moeres till 16:30 hrs and then marched along main road and beaches to Dunkirk jetty.

23:30

Arrived at Jetty at 23:30 hrs.