July 1944                         War Diary of the 1st  Battalion The Gordon Highlanders for the period when Arthur William Houseman was killed.

Tues 11th

Bn Strength - 28 Offrs 617 O.R’s - LT COL W.A. STEVENSON / MAJ A. ANDREWS wounded S.O.S - LT R.B. ANDERSON missing S.O.S

00.01hrs - Flares going up all along enemy line.

00.30hrs - Corps “VICTOR” target came down unexpectedly on objective.

0.40hrs - TAC Bn H.Q opened up in area of X rds between A & D Coy’s pos’ns (086717)

01.00hrs - A Cot & B Coy advanced supported by 7 Fd Regts. 2 Med Regts. 1 Heavy Regt. A Coy were out of touch most of the time, their axis being the tow

path. B Coy advanced & cleared the first few houses of COLOMBELLES but were subjected to very heavy Spandau fire & Nehelwaifer bombardment.

MAJOR ANDREWS & LT BROWN were wounded and 2 Sgts were killed. LT ROBERTSON took over command and in view of the impossibility of either

pushing forward with the 36 remaining men of remaining in the houses, withdrew at 03.45hrs to re-organise in the cemetery (083712) ( Sheet 40/16 5W 1/25000)

02.00hrs - D Coy was ordered to advance but to keep to EAST of houses avoiding B Coy’s battle with the intention of reaching their original objective thereby helping both B & A Coy’s.

02.02hrs - A Coy reported they were almost on their objective but that they had been ‘expected guests’ and street fighting and house clearing was in progress.

02.40hrs - A Coy had gained it’s objective & C Coy was ordered to move up tow path & help mop up & consolidate S.W end of COLOMBELLES. The whole time B & D Coy’s & Advance Bn H.Q was being continuously mortared.

03.00hrs - D Coy was held up 100x SOUTH of Cottage ?? just EAST of B Coy. C.O ordered B & D Coy’ to reorganise in cemetery and await tanks which were being sent up to support a new attack.

03.45hrs - Reports from rear Bn H.Q indicated that the tow path had been blocked by a knife-rest & by mines, which the R.E’s were unable to remove quickly.

O4.35hrs - Owing to mortaring & unhealthiness of cemetery, B & D Coy’s were ordered by C.O to return to old A & D Coy pos’ns in order to reorganise and liaise with tanks, which had just arrived, preparatory to making a new attack on the Rd triangle.

04.55hrs - C Coy was in touch with A Coy in COLOMBELLES & started mopping up operations most successfully. Bde. Comd arrived and discussed the situation with C.O.

05.40hrs - the tow path had been cleared & A & C Coy’s were able to get their much needed wheeled transport.

06.00hrs - LT COL W.A. STEVENSON was hit by a shell splinter & wounded. The 2 I/C MAJOR H.C.H.T. CUMMING BRUCE assumed Comd of the Bn and carried on organising B & D Coy’s for attack. No attack was to be made until B & D Coy’s had re-organised.

06.58hrs - Padre returned from enemy lines having been in captivity for 3 hrs. He reported that the enemy were very ‘bomb happy’ & that they appeared to be retreating. A & C Coy’s were ordered to ‘ Hunt the Hun’.

07.30hrs - By now 5 B.W ( Black Watch) reported enemy tanks attacking them and by 07.50 hrs they were ordered to withdraw by Bde. Comd having being badly short up by TIGER tanks.

08.10hrs - A & C Coy’s were also ordered to withdraw to main pos’n, which they did unwillingly, having completely dominated COLOMBELLES except for the Rd triangle in the EAST. The rest of the day was spent re-organising the Bn and handing over to the 7 B.W who were to ‘Hold the Fort’ and give the Bn

24hrs to rest & re-organise in a rear area.

15.00hrs - The Bn marched out of LONGHEVAL & returned to the area of RANVILLE (1143) (sheet 40/16 1/250000).

The Bn came under Comd of 154 Bde at 14.00hrs.

Wed 12th

Bn Strength - 25 Offrs 572 O.R’s - LT. McCOLL D.A. & LT. C. BROWN, L.T. H.W. GLENNIE missing S.O.S

03.00hrs - The Bn area especially Bn H.Q was shelled by long range medium guns. No casualties were caused to personnel but 1 jeep and the ‘I’ truck were hit.

10.00hrs - C.O went to DIV H.Q to clear up some points regarding the attacks yesterday & returned having been told that he was to Comd the Bn until further orders from 21. A.G.

Most of the day was spent re-organising, refitting and resting. Intermittent shelling of the Bn area throughout the day. One Pl of D Coy and Carrier Pl relieved 1 B.W in the ESCOVILLE area.

Thurs 13th

Bn Strength - 25 Offrs 577O.R’sC.O held a conference for Coy Comdrs on the state of the Bn, and what the immediate future held for it. The French civilians in the farm occupied by Bn H.Q were evacuated under F.S arrangements.

18.30hrs - B Coy took over posns in ESCOVILLE to increase the garrison during the hours of darkness.

Fri 14th

C.O’s conference of Coy Comdrs interrupted and rather thrown into confusion by the Adjutant’s announcement of a take over of our present area by 185 Bde of 3 DIV, whose recce parties arrived at 15.30hrs.

Arthur William Houseman died on the 12th September 1944 as part of the 1st  Battalion Gordon Highlanders ( 153rd  Inf Brigade - 51st  Division )

He presumably died a a result of injuries received on the 11th of September at the Battle of Colombelles.