A Diary made from letters sent home to his father in England by Lt. J.P.Guy
Sunday, 14th April. 1940. Down Forth by Ferry Steamers to 'Orion'.
We were loaded onto small paddle-steamers at Rosyth quay and chugged under the Forth Bridge below the submarine net to the 'Orion' at Inchkeith. A strong wind was blowing, and we made several attempts before we could get alongside. Major Garner commented he'd be happier if going the other way.
On the Orion everything was sumptuous. Had a cabin to myself, and troops were in cabins too. Marvellous food served by white-coated stewards - reminded me of the 'Atlantis'. At dusk weighed anchor and came up above the sub-net and below the Forth Bridge for the night.
Monday, 15th April. 1940. Onto H.M.S. 'Arrow'.
Spent the day in cabin and lounging over the bulwarks gazing at the Forth Bridge and the Fife and Edinburgh Shores.
In the evening 'A' and 'D' Coys. Told they were going aboard destroyers. Paraded onto a tug in the gloaming and steamed up to Rosyth quay again in starlight. Unloaded onto H.M.S. 'Arrow', where Lt. Scott had already arrived with 50 soldiers from 'D' Coy. We didn't move that evening ; but the Commander told us where we were bound for. To bed as soon as possible.
Tuesday, April 16th, 1940. Sailed for Norway.
At 8.30 a.m. H.M.S. 'Arrow' started off from Rosyth Dockyard. We moved off
down the Forth with three cruisers and one other destroyer H.M.S. Acharon. I stood watching how close we were to the water, as we tore east and then N.E. up the Scotch Coast. We kept within sight of land all up the coast. We were the left forward destroyer; the Acharon was the right forward destroyer, and the cruisers were behind and between us, off the Starboard quarter. We zigzagged in front of the cruisers listening for submarines.
I had had breakfast of bacon and egg; later I ate some chocolate. But this was my undoing, and I felt so ill I ate nothing else until we had landed in Norway. During the afternoon I languished in the Captain's cabin, lying down., for if I stood up my stomach reeled. Most of Wednesday April 17th I spent down below, occasionally coming up to see how we were getting along, and sat by the torpedo tubes in the sunlight. Bedded down early.
Thursday, 18th April. 1940. Landed at Andalsnes.
The morning and afternoon we travelled N.E. as before. Towards evening We turned due east, for the Romsdal Fjord. As dusk was beginning to fall I came up on deck. Bren guns were manned, and we entered the Fjord (it seemed about 2 miles wide) on look-out for snipers on the shore or mountain sides. The hills were covered with snow, and it became suddenly colder and more dismal; the sailors even put on their duffle coats. At last we saw a settlement on the starboard bow -Andalsnes We slowed down and hove to while a cruiser slipped alongside the stone quayside. At length, when night had fallen, we came
alongside the cruiser, and crossed over the cruiser onto the quay. The inhabitants had turned out to see us.
Friday, 19th April. 1940. Sorted packing-cases. Entrained in evening.
Some of that night we unloaded the ships,the commanders of which wanted to be clear of the quay by dawn. Most of the night cranes were grating, and packing cases being dropped on the quay, while a Bofors A.A. gun was mounted on the shore. About midnight we went to bed - the troops being billeted in a tailor's factory, and we in the tailor's house next door! This house was left open, with even the crockery unwashed, as if the inhabitants had fled in haste. Next morning the guns opened a deafening fire, and I looked out of an upstairs window to see a Boche sea plane, which had been flying up the Fjord, swerve off to cover behind the mountains. Then it circled round just out of range to see what we were up to. It had probably come from Trondhjem Aerodrome. That day we stacked the packing cases, ate a stew dinner, and in the evening formed up and moved off to the station just outside the town. While waiting there seven or eight coffins, from the Front and draped with the Norwegian flag, were taken off the train; another seaplane came to investigate what was going on in the little port. Eventually we were loaded into Carriages and trucks ('40Mann' or '8 Heste') and began a cold, filthy, and uncomfortable train journey southwards.
Saturday. 20th April. 1940. Breakfast, at Otta. Travelled through Gudbrandsdal.
We breakfasted at Otta, where we left
our valises and heavy luggage. My platoon was put out for local protection against motor-cyclist raiders during breakfast. Then off south again down the Gudbrandsdal. In the afternoon a grey Boche plane only 50 feet high (or less) Flew past us up the valley, apparently looking at us in at the windows. The line was bombed at Tretten, so out we got, and onto buses (after being given a drink of milk by some peasants).We were issued with maps (15 miles to the inch!) Drove in buses through Lillehamar past crowds of cheering Norwegians, and after being machine-gunned by a plane (our first encounter) got out and walked to our billets (a farm in a clearing). To bed at about midnight, revolvers under the pillow. Got cramp several times during the night with the cold.
Sunday. 21st April. 1940. Battle at Lillehamar.
At 9.0 am. Sunday morning a Norwegian Staff Officer told us to get ready as we were going down to the line. We dressed quickly snatched Some biscuits, and at about 11 o'clock onto trucks taking us South.
White planes with black crosses in the air the whole time. At the line we were going to hold my platoon was allotted a wood on the left of the road going south, while 'A' company went on ahead. Half right, in the pine woods, saw farm house In Boche hands going up in smoke. Occasional shells were hurled into our wood, but little else happened till tea-time. Just when reserve ammunition had come up, making extra weight to carry, were told to withdraw up the road (the snow was waist-deep in the fields). As I went up road a few shells fell on both sides, smutching the white snow for 200 yds. around where they fell and brought the telephone wires down round our ears. 400 yds up the road was a pine-tree road block. D Coy was to defend this area; 17 Platoon to cover the block.
that night was cold; covered our legs with hay for warmth. Thought we saw ski patrols or heard engines several times during night. Let through 100 Norwegians under White Flag-
thought they might be Germans to turn on us from behind. At one o'clock told to withdraw 15 miles, half walking, half riding on truck We started by walking through the dark pine woods. Saw red glow of burning farm houses on our left. Then our turn to ride came, and dawn, Monday, saw us entering Lillehamar after a most tiring march through sludge & snow & the perpetual expectation of having Germans jumping on us from the woods flanking the road.
Monday. 22nd April. 1940. The Battle.
By this time all the Companies were muddled up, and we were sent to the School. Ate there some cakes and tea the school people provided. Then told the Germans were about to enter town so out and took up positions on North of Lillehamar. The Foresters were on our left. D Coy occupied three hillocks in the open. A plane flew over, and when it had gone we took cover in the wooded and bouldered part between the road and the field; feeling tired. Two planes machine-gunned us from 11 o'clock till 1 o'clock, and set the school we had previously occupied on fire with tracer bullets, About lunch time saw figures in valley coming our way. Couldn't distinguish who they were; were Foresters being driven in by German attack; the left flank had gone. All D Coy. officers had vanished during last night's March and I was in charge. Then C.0. told the battalion to withdraw 7 miles up valley by transport and reform line. I drove lorry with food back. Bombed in wood by plane which flew up the valley after us. That evening reformed at edge of wood, D Coy. to act as rearguard for rest Saw several armoured cars going up mountain on our left. When we were given word to withdraw, had to race across cross-roads behind us while being fired at by armoured cars which had got behind us and were 300 yds above us on the hillside. Back several miles to Bn. H.Q. Then told to go by transport further back where we lay down for a bit of a rest.
[ Here there is a seperate shhet of paper with the following written on it :-
Sitting under fir tree near Lillehammer & wondering.
H Guy ]
During night went to Otta, where we heard Bn.was reforming between Tretten and Otta.
Tuesday. April 23rd, 1940. The Battle.
Tuesday morning, 23rd April had wash etc. and meal,and in afternoon back on lorry to Farvaang, where we found resistance was collapsing. Most of Bn. had gone back and Captain Hobbins and I seemed to be only ones in Farvaang. Apart from some Norwegians who had prepared the suspension bridges for demolition. So followed on last truck going back to Otta. Slept a bit there, then took food with Q.M. to the rest valley S.W. of Otta, where troops were sleeping in farmhouses.
Wednesday. 24th April. 1940. Met Major Garner.
Met Major Garner who'd been shot in knee; he said he'd let them know at home I was O.K. Had photos taken by Norwegians,who in turn donned our tin hats & rifles & we took their photos.
Conference at Brigade H.Q. deciding on defence of rest valley. Leicesters moved to eastern end. Slept night in Brigade Commander's car - cold The wood hut's stank too much to be endured.
Thursday. 25th April. 1940.In evening left
Otta by train. Thursday evening collected together for move northwards: One man had stomach trouble through eating dry biscuits, which subsequently swelled. Marched over suspension bridge which had bomb holes through it though made of concrete into Otta. On the platform saw brigade going up to line; bitterly cold waiting for train. At last got in train and steamed north, with many halts, and at slow pace.
Friday, 26th April, 1940. Spent day in wood near Dovre: arrived Dombaas.
Morning found us South of Dovre. Engine driver refused to take us farther during daylight; so out of train and into nearby wood. Spent whole day in wood; shared rations of Norwegian Red-Cross Unit which
was there - tinned sausages, sour rye-bread and harsh bitter coffee. German planes bombed the railway line. and Dovre Station. windows of train all broken.
Saw an English plane -the only one I saw. At dusk onto the train again, and off to Dombaas. Arrived there about 10 o'clock, in a biting wind,and marched passed smoldering, bombed, wooden huts to Tourist Hotel. Ate some bully beef in basement, and got to bed in one of the bedrooms on a bed - The first comfort for what seemed ages. Troops slept in rooms, corridors, floors, everywhere.
Saturday. 27th April, 1940. Spent day at Dombaas.
Up, and spent most of day in the house of German dentist, used as Battalion H.Q. Looked at weapons helmets & swastika flags of captured parachutists which were stored in basement of hotel; one person accidentally wounded by rifle that went off. Planes over all day. Had bath in dentist's bath-room.
Sunday. April 28th. 1940. Started back for Andaisnes.
Spent day much as before wondering what would be done with us. For walk with Syd and Padre into nearby wood, round church, and saw graves of the German parachutists. In afternoon wrote some scrappy letters on what paper I could find, and censored those of the troops. Dombaas bombed - 2 Norwegians killed, and ammunition store set on fire; the rounds popped off and the wooden house blazed furiously.
In evening told we were to make for Adalsnes in four batches; one batch Leicesters to go all way that night; one batch Leicesters to go to Romsdal; one batch Foresters to go to Lesjakogen, and
one batch Foresters to go to Lesja, so as to have all route picketed against parachutists for brigade still in line. I was attached to last batch Foresters. To Lesja by train. Arrived about midnight. I took out patrol to look for vehicles to take us further the fo11owing night, as no transport was provided. found nothing. Slept on Lesja Station.
Monday. 29th April. 1940. Spent day in farm-house at Lesja.
At dawn, half of Coy. to wood near church, other half to farmhouse. Had some tinned pilchards and pears. Tried to get some trucks started; they had no ignition keys, so had to connect wires. Got a milk lorry and taxi to work, but owner asked us to return taxi. Bomb dropped 30 yds. from farmhouse. That evening started along rail and road for Andalsnes - 60 miles away. Some troops on lorry, some marching on railway line. I drove lorry. stopped every now and then to get in touch. After 15 miles the railway party fired 3 shots, which let us know they'd stopped a train. I drove to Lesjakogen Station to let lorry party get on train, but it had gone through station, and later discovered it had spent Tuesday in a tunnel. So drove lorry back to Andalsnes, trying to be there before 6.0 a.m., when the quay was bombed regularly. Endless journey of hairpin bends down to Romsdal with precipitous slopes at edge of road.
Tuesday, 30th April, 1940. Arrived at Andalsnes: on board H.M.S. Sheffield tonight.
Arrived about 6.0 a.m., sent troops to assembly areas (they were Foresters) and sent truck to vehicle park where it was needed for bringing in more parties. Spent
day in our area, in wood on hillside above Andaisnes. Watched them try to bomb bridge, but missed. They dropped incendiaries in wood, trying to drive us out. At 9.0 p.m. we paraded to go down to ship at quay. Marched through Andalsnes, a town of stinking ruins, to quayside. Got onto destroyer, and then onto H. M. S. Sheffield. They gave us bacon and eggs, coffee, toast, marmalade, and butter, and how we wanted it! At 12.45 p.m. they started belting down. the Fjord, trying to get away before any bombers came over. We left a rear-party at Andalsnes to come off the following night.
Wednesday. May 1st. 1940.
Over the North Sea.
On Wednesday we were well out over the North Sea. Got some pay from Paymaster Commander and paid the 100 troops on board 5/- each for chocolate and cigarettes. At last got the sleep we needed.
Thursday. May 2nd, 1940.
Arrived Scapa; changed to 'Royal Scotsman'; then to 'Sobieski'. At 'dawn found ourselves in Scapa. The Rodney was there, and several other Warships and Hospital ships. unloaded from Sheffield onto small Irish-crossing steamer, 'The Royal Scotsman'. In the afternoon again transferred to H.M.S. 'Sobieski', a Polish ship of the South America - New York - Gdynia line. She had been transformed into a troop carrier with bunks, etc. I shared cabin with the Q.M. of the Foresters. Lived on sumptuous fare while on board.
Learnt a bit of Po1ish, e.g. Poklad C = C Deck! Troops from the other cruisers were brought onto the Sobieski, So the Battalion was rejoined again.
Friday. 3rd May. 1940.
Spent day at Scapa. Beautifully fine day. Did scarcely anything, bar a few muster parades etc. to count numbers. Got Conrad's 'Victory' out of the Sobieski's library. Read it before we got to Glasgow; but didn't like it. Very good food. Thought they were keeping us till after the debate in Parliament.
Saturday. 4th May. 1940. Sailed for Glasgow.
In the early morning started for Glasgow. Saw land on port side most of day. Sailed down Minch with two other troop-ships and two destroyers. Water was very calm.
Sunday. 5th May. 1940 Arrived Glasgow; sent letter.
Sailed past Dumbarton and up Clyde. Noticed how green everything was compared with the whites and blacks of Norway. Docked at, I think King George V Dock on left bank of Clyde. Wrote letter saying I'd arrived, which I posted; but no one allowed ashore. Got paid £5.
Monday. 6th May. 1940.
Sent telegram saying I'd arrived: Change of clothes; speech by Sir Edmund Ironside. Down to nearby warehouses for change of clothes before Sir Edmund Ironside came to see us. I picked up a few things such as towels; you could take your choice in the huge warehouses. Later, paraded in same warehouses and Sir Edmund Ironside and a few French Generals inspected us, and Sir Edmund Ironside made a speech.
The following day we entrained, and departed South for Hawick, and 10 days' leave.
J. P. H. GUY.
2nd/Lt. 1/5 Leicestershire Regt.
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