The 2nd Battalion
2nd Battalion Hertfordshire Regiment was formed of men from the west of the county at the start of the war and was employed in coastal defence in East Anglia and Northumberland. In April 1940, a detachment from the Battalion took part in the unsuccessful Norway expedition, where Allied troops attempted to prevent the Germans from accessing iron ore mines, and had to be evacuated.
The Battalion continued to defend the east coast until August 1943 when they were sent to Scotland for specialist training at Combined Operations Training Centres in Dundonald, Gailes and Inverary. Combined Operations was set up by the War Office to harass the Germans with raids by combined army and naval forces. The Battalion trained through the winter and became the framework on which was built a combined force of all arms, designated No. 9 Beach Group. The intention was that this force should land with assault troops on the French coastline, establish and maintain store centres and assist the landing of all troops, vehicles and stores over the beaches.
In early 1944, No. 9 Beach Group, as part of 104 Beach Sub-Area, were ordered to support the 69th Brigade who were scheduled to land on King Green, King Red and Love Green beaches, in the area of La Riviere and Ver-Sur-Mer on the Normandy coast. Prior to D-Day, the Beach Group had been taking part in rehearsals for Operation Overlord, the code name for the Normandy Landings. They were immediately engaged in fighting, clearing snipers and strong points left behind by the 69th Brigade as they headed inland. Casualties were incurred and Lieutenant Frederick Bonney of B Company was awarded an immediate Military Cross for his courage in leading his platoon against a strong point on D plus 1. His Battalion Commander’s recommendation for the award described his bravery, and that of the unnamed Corporal:
“On June 6th 1944, Lieut. Bonney found that three of his men had been left on a road which was under heavy enemy fire. Taking a Bren gun and a Corporal with him, he crawled back under MG and mortar fire to rescue these men. On reaching them, he found that two had been killed and one wounded. Assisted by his Corporal, Lieut. Bonney brought back the wounded man at great personal risk.”
The Battalion remained with Beach Group in Ver-Sur-Mer until August, when, due to the shortage of infantry reinforcements, it became one of thirteen infantry battalions placed in suspended animation, with the men drafted into other formations as reinforcements. The Battalion was officially disbanded on 21st August and the last of its men dispersed by the end of the month.