7th Battalion Hampshire Regiment

The 7th Battalion was a Territorial Army unit, originally the 5/7th Battalion until it was split into the 5th and 7th battalions when the Territorial Army was doubled in size in the spring and summer of 1939. The 7th Battalion remained in the United Kingdom training long and hard for many years until after the D-Day landings of 6 June 1944.

 

The Battalion was sent to Normandy as reinforcements with the 130th Infantry Brigade attached to the 43rd (Wessex) Infantry Division. In June 1944 the Battalion landed near Le Hamel. They were with 130th Brigade (with 4th and 5th Dorsets) and were initially held in reserve. The Battalion attacked Maltot, supported by tanks of 9th Royal Tank Regiment (9th RTR) in July 1944. The village was defended by Waffen-SStroops supported by Tiger tanks. Both the 7th Battalion and 9th RTR suffered severe casualties, and although the 7th Battalion managed to fight its way into the village it was withdrawn. The 7th Battalion suffered 18 officer and 208 other rank casualties, including 4 officers and 12 other ranks killed, but was back in the line two days later.

 

The Battalion attacked the village of Cahagnes later in the month. This was fought in typical ‘bocage’ countryside, but after the initial attack by the brigade ran into difficulties, 7th Battalion deployed from reserves and captured Cahagnes, beating off several German counter-attacks. On 2 August, the battalion moved up to Jurques, and after a short stiff fight advanced to "Point 132", close to Mount Pincon. On 6 August, the battalion put in a deceptive attack on Mount Pincon, making a diversion whilst 129th Infantry Brigade made a flank attack. During heavy fighting, 'C' Company lost many casualties, including all the officers. Following the successful flank attack by 129th Brigade, the 7th Battalion mopped up and concentrated near Mauny by 10 August.

 

In August 1944 the Battalion captured St Denis de Mere after a bombardment by 9 artillery regiments. The Battalion took 74 prisoners and then prepared for "The Breakout". The Battalion then moved 50 miles north-east to Conches, and by 27 August, the 7th Battalion was across the River Seine. The battalion then participated in the capture of Tilly, and thereafter spent 11 days taking in replacements and resting. In September 1944 the Battalion started to move to Brussels for temporary garrison duty, arriving the next day. This easy duty was welcome; since landing in Normandy in June, the 7th Hampshires had lost (including wounded) 35 officers and 450 other ranks.

 

The Battalion fought in Operation Market Garden in September 1944. On 20 September, the battalion moved through Eindhoven to Grave. The battalion was tasked with defending the southern end of the two large bridges over the Waal. On 23 September, the 7th was sent into the line, fighting west of the bridges in the Valburg-Elst area. They then moved to the "Island" and stayed there until 4 October, before moving to the Groesbeek-Mook area on the Dutch-German border.

 

In November 1944 the Battalion was moved to Maastricht, and then moved around as divisional reserve. On 19 December the German launched their Ardennes offensive which caused the 7th Battalion to move north of Liege to guard the bridges over the Meuse. On 26 December, the 7th Battalion moved to Aachen, and on 12 January moved again to Teveren. Then in January 1945 the Battalion captured Putt, then Waldenrath, and on 25 January captured Dremmen and Porselen. The Battalion advanced south-east from Cleves as part of the big Reichwald offensive. Over two days fighting for Berkhofel, the 7th lost 70 casualties. It was relieved on 17 February.

 

The Battalion crossed the Rhine in assault craft, consolidating on the far bank and then advancing across the IJssel Canal to Milligen, which was captured on 26 March. German resistance was collapsing, and the 7th moved over the Twente Canal on 1 April, liberating Hengelo. In April 1945 the 7th Battalion took part in operation "Forward On", sweeping through Germany against minimal resistance. However, on 13 April the Battalion had a hard fight for Cloppenburg, a fight which was as hard as any they had fought, vicious hand-to-hand fighting from street to street. Luckily they were supported by tanks, sappers of the Royal Engineersand a single Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineers, which demolished several buildings with its petard. Cloppenburg was captured the next day. Then in April, the Battalion embarked on its final advance, moving through Bahlum, Bremen, then Bremerhavan, capturing hundreds then thousands of prisoners. The 7th Battalion reached Gnarrenburg on 3 May, and were still there when the Germans surrendered the following day.

 

 

Name: Morrison, Cyril

Rank: Sergeant

Age: 26

No. 2931034

Unit: 

Missing since: 02-10-1944

Next of Kin: Husband of Dorothy Ingham Morrison, of Wallasey, Cheshire.

Groesbeek Panel: 4

KIA Information: Known to have been killed in Driel/Heteren area.

Name: Colyer, Ernest Charles

Rank: Private

Age: 19

No. 14572632

Unit: 

Missing since: 25-10-1944

Next of Kin:

Groesbeek Panel: 4

KIA Information: Known to have been killed in Riethorst area. (Plasmolen/Mook)