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War Diary, 1944

Posted August 29th, 2005

Related entry: The Nijmegen bridge.

My father, Kenneth Taylor (now 87 Ken died peacefully in Preston, England, in June 2011), was the Signals Officer in the 6th Battalion of Green Howards, in the Allied Expeditionary Force which landed in Normandy in northern France on D-Day, June 6, 1944. The Battalion was in the initial early-morning assault on Gold Beach.

Kenneth kept a (more or less) daily diary of his experiences as his unit advanced north-eastwards across France, through Belgium, and eventually reached Nijmegen in Holland on 24 September. The diary continues until 11 December, 1944. I decided to celebrate this year's VE Day by putting it online. A copy of the diary has also recently been given to the Green Howards Regimental Museum in Richmond, Yorkshire.

Read Kenneth Taylor's war diary »

The Allied Expeditionary Force: D-Day to Nijmegen, June - December 1944

Whilst the Green Howards was a regiment of the British Army, a regiment was not a fighting unit as such. Operationally, the regiment's 6th Battalion was deployed as part of 69 Brigade of the 50th Northumbrian Infantry Division. The following is a brief description of how the Allied Expeditionary Force was organised.

The Supreme Commander of the Western Allies was General Dwight Eisenhower who directed Anglo-American operations in north-west Europe. The US 12th Army Group was led by General Omar Bradley and the Anglo-Canadian 21st Army Group was led by Field-Marshall Sir Bernard Montgomery.

The Anglo-Canadian 21st Army Group consisted of the British Second Army commanded by General Sir Miles Dempsey and which possessed four Corps, one of which - XXX - was led by Lieutenant-General Sir Brian Horrocks, and the First Canadian Army commanded by Lieutenant-General Harry Crerar and which possessed I and II Canadian Corps and a Polish Armoured Division.

A Corps normally comprised two or three Divisions plus specialist troops. Montgomery's two Army Commanders also possessed a number of independent Armoured Divisions. At full strength a Division numbered about 15,000 men, though less in an Armoured Division. A Division usually comprised three Brigades (abbreviated to Bde in the diary), and each Brigade contained three Battalions (or Armoured Regiments). A Battalion comprised three or four fighting Companies, each of which in turn contained three Platoons of 30 soldiers.

A Battalion was commanded by a C.O. with an Adjutant. Kenneth Taylor describes Battalions (abbreviated to Bn in the diary) with four Rifle Companies (abbreviated to Coys in the diary), and various Platoons: Bren Carrier, Mortar, Machine Gun etc.

He was responsible for the Signals Platoon of the 6th Battalion of Green Howards, which was distributed according to operational requirements. Its job, in part, was to establish and maintain reliable operational telephone communications by laying fixed lines between Battalion H.Q. and the fighting front line. Communication by wireless was insecure and usually 'scrambled' by the enemy.

In summary, the command hierarchy for Kenneth Taylor was: Allied Expeditionary Force » Anglo-Canadian 21st Army Group » British Second Army » XXX Corps » 50th Northumbrian Infantry Division » 69 Brigade » 6th Battalion of Green Howards » Signals Platoon.

About the diary

The notebook itself began life as a German war diary. Kenneth Taylor started his own diary on D-Day on loose scraps of paper, then after a few days he found the notebook (pictured top) in an abandoned German position, so he transferred his previous entries into it and it continued as his diary from then on. Its original German owner had made a few entries in May, 44, ending on the 27th.

Related entry: The Nijmegen bridge.

Page last modified: January 31, 2015

Comments


Posted by Bill Allen, Bolton Evg News

September 21st, 2005 at 16:10

Mr Taylor,

I am a feature writer at the Bolton Evening News and would very much like to interview your father about his "war diary". I have been looking at it on the website.

I have tried ringing you but without success. Any chance that you could contact me by email, or telephone (01204 537263), to see if we might make some arrangements? I am sure your father is known by many people in Bolton who would be interested to hear of his exploits.

regards,

Bill Allen


Posted by Patrick

January 16th, 2007 at 14:29

As of the 6th of June 2006 the Green Howards reformed to create 2nd Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment.


Posted by Bobbie (France)

August 6th, 2007 at 17:05

I enjoyed reading this and was sure you'd be contacted by journalists etc. The more people who publish diaries the better, lest we forget.

My father was around the same places at the same times (GI arrived Utah Beach 6th June). Your father wrote "I wonder if I'll ever adjust…" I hope he did. Mine suffered from post-war syndrome until his death in Richmond (Virginia, USA) Feb 07 age 84.

God bless them all.


Posted by Patrick

August 6th, 2007 at 17:37

"God bless them all." Amen to that. I'm sorry to hear that your father found it so hard to adjust post-war.

My father must have adjusted. He's alive and well, and at 89 he still rides fifteen miles each day on his bike, come rain, wind, or snow, although he finds it hard to walk. His wife since just after the war, Francoise, died in January of this year at 87.


Posted by Bobbie (France)

August 14th, 2007 at 10:44

Thank you for replying.

As you enjoy and excel in photography, could we see photos of your father on his bike?!

I love his adaptation of Carroll's famous poem in his war diary; he must have a wonderful sense of humour!


Posted by Patrick

August 14th, 2007 at 13:38

A sense of humour, probably, helps one to cope with being in a war. But the poem you refer to is very strange, and when he wrote it in his war diary, for some reason he left one line of the poem unwritten and told me to leave a similar blank line on the web page.

The picture (not too excellent) is from Easter 2005, of Kenneth Taylor cycling in the Beddgelert Forest, North Wales.


Posted by Jim Grisi

December 24th, 2007 at 14:48

Dear Patrick
I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed reading your father's diary. Thank you for making it available. The greatest generation, indeed. Love the photo of your dad on the bike! May he enjoy continued good health, peace and tranquility.
All the best.
Jim


Posted by Patrick

December 24th, 2007 at 16:02

Jim, many thanks. I will pass this on to my father. I always find the parade at the Cenotaph in London on Remembrance Sunday very moving to watch, even on TV.

Patrick


Posted by janet prescott

April 14th, 2008 at 14:28

I am writing a book about Joey (ginger) Hollingsworth. he was part of the kings royal rifles. he landed in normandy (gold beach) a few days after d-day. i am trying to find out exactly when. Any help would be appreciated.


Posted by sven

January 31st, 2009 at 07:22

Your wonderful diary has been listed in the war diary archive war-diary.com.


Posted by BoBo

May 22nd, 2009 at 20:34

Hi Patrick,
just to let you know (if not said already) the wording on the notebooks cover "O.v.D.- Buch" tells that it was the official log (Logbuch) of a German military unit.
O.v.D. = Offizier vom Dienst > officer on duty
Buch = book

Greetings from Germany. 8)


Posted by Karina

September 21st, 2009 at 18:46

Hi Patrick,
Just looking at the photo of the 6th Battalion Green Howards 1944 & I think I recognise my Uncle John Eli Shepherd ,top row ,3rd from the left. He served with the Green Howards & was from Middlesbrough. Sadly he was killed in Gheel on Sept 10th 1944, he was just a boy at 18 years old .
Wonder if your dad remembers him?
Thanks & praise to your father ,who was astute & caring enough to keep the diary & kind enough to share it with us. It paints a picture of what happened & answers some previously unanswered questions.
Many thanks to your father ,we are eternally proud & grateful for the battles fought for our freedom.
Always in rememberance to the fallen, may they rest in peace .


Posted by Patrick

September 21st, 2009 at 22:32

Hi Karina.

My father doesn't remember many names any more but he will try to look at the Battalion photo and the officer you believe might be John Eli Shepherd to see if it jogs his memory. If it does, I will post back here.

Thank you for your comments.


Posted by Bruce

June 29th, 2010 at 05:25

Hi Patrick
I have been reading through my fathers diary as I will be in Nijmegen in a few weeks. He was in the Canadian Film Corps. and was in Nijmegen at the same time as your Father. They may have not crossed paths but I have always found it interesting how we can pass a person on the street and have a connection that we never knew about. In my fathers diary for Tuesday November 21 1944 he wrote, "Moved to Bruuman home in Nijmegen, mother, Father,Rosemarie & Miarianna and son John. Shot 100' on draw for leave to Canada at 2 corps- interiors". thanks for posting your fathers diary
Cheers
Bruce


Posted by Eric Aerts

September 14th, 2010 at 22:55

Hi Patrick,

I have been reading your fathers diary and the chapter about bridgehead Geel is very interesting. The history association of Laakdal discovered an 8mm film about the liberation of Eindhout, a small village near the Albert Canal, by the 6th bat. Green Howards. I don't know anything about the task of a signal officer, but it's possible your father might be on the film.


Posted by Patrick

September 18th, 2010 at 07:50

Thanks Eric. If the film is ever made available for public viewing I'd be interested to see it.


Posted by Paul Cheall

October 24th, 2010 at 19:09

My father was also in 50th division, 6th Battalion Green Howards, 69 Brigade, B Company. It was heartwarming and fascinating to read of the parallel experience of someone else fighting in the same Battalion. I have recently completed editing my own father's memoirs and they are partly online at http://www.grimdetermination.co.uk, where you can read the chapter on Dunkirk.

I have to admit I had to restrain myself from letting out a triumphant yelp when I read of the pasting taken by the German tanks near Villers Bocage on 1 July – because that is where my Dad was wounded the very day before – no doubt by a shell from the same tanks! Dad's War Diary is going to be published next year as an autobiography, which will cover his entire war from the territorials at Dunkirk, North Africa, Sicily, D-Day and finally Germany, where his war ended. I've been comparing notes with the soldiers mentioned by your father and my own. There is just L C Hastings and Priv Gibson who are mentioned in dad's own list. I have squeezed out every possible name from every piece of paper that dad wrote on and they are listed at http://www.grimdetermination.co.uk/#/indices-names-ww2-a-f/4541929777.
Thanks for taking the effort to post your Dad's diary.
Regards, Paul


Posted by Andy Holborn

November 6th, 2013 at 15:40

Dear Patrick
I am close to completing a book covering the landings on Gold Beach to be published by Bloomsbury.
Could I have permission to use some parts of your late father's War Diary for June 6-11?
Best wishes
Andy Holborn


Posted by Patrick

November 6th, 2013 at 21:48

Andy, thanks for asking, and by all means quote my father's war diary, but please attribute the extracts to him. I would be interested to know the title of your book.

Best regards,

Patrick


Posted by Mark Waller

January 31st, 2015

My father in law, Jack Laing, was I believe a signalman in the 6th Bn Green Howards. He served in North Africa, Sicily and in Normandy. Although he is not mentioned by name in this diary, (or Bill Cheall's autobiography,) I feel sure he was present at the engagements described here.

I would be very interested to hear from anyone who knew him.

(MWaller@Tanos.co.uk)

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Patrick Elsewhere

The art of Françoise Taylor:
paintings & drawings by my mother, vécue 1920-2007