The 1st Battalion was stationed in Delhi at the outbreak of war and did not
return to England until mid 1940 when it commenced preparations for the return
to Europe. Moving through several units the Battalion became part of 185
Brigade, 3rd Division in April 1943. For the next year the Battalion trained
intensively for D-Day in Scotland and later in Essex. From its embarkation
port, the Battalion was shipped to Normandy in three groups and by mid-morning,
D-Day 6th June had landed upon Sword beach. 185 Brigade, 3rd Division had been
expected to capture Caen within a few hours, but the battle for Caen over the
next few weeks saw some of the most intensive fighting of the war, and the
Royal Norfolks were in the thick of it. During this time the Battalion suffered
its first heavy casualties and took part in several gallant actions. Most
notably at a place known forever after as 'Norfolk house' on the Caen canal.
By 8th July, Lebisey had been captured and the Battalion had suffered virtually
continuously under enemy shelling on its advance through Ranville, Heronville
and Manneville wood and the ruined streets of Caen, following the 1000 bomber
raids and days of artillery bombardment. By 3rd August The British advance east
was progressing well and the Battalion had passed through Le Reculay, La
Bistiere and Sourdevalle. The battle for Sourdevalle was costly for the Royal
Norfolk's, 160 casualties out of 550, including Corporal Sidney Bates who won
the V.C. posthumously for his gallantry.
Later in August the 1st Battalion, re-inforced by members of the disbanded 7th
Battalion made steady progress and by 3rd September had reached the Seine river
about 20 miles north of Rouen. The Allied army now pushed quickly and
relatively easily through the rest of France and Belgium before finding itself
on the outskirts of the Reichswald forest and the heart of nazi Germany, where
the Allied advance slowed down as the German resistance became stronger. After
numerous moves the Royal Norfolk's settled at Overloon by the Overloon -
Venraij road and suffered 212 men killed, wounded and missing in just 4 days.
After weeks of local patrolling and small attacks the Battalion had captured
Ousterham and Wanssum and by Christmas they had found themselves at Haps
occupying a length of the Maas river. By January, after a period in reserve,
the Battalion was again on the advance and entered Goch on February 25th. From
here an attack was made on Kervenheim where it had to fight its way over a
rectangular sward 1000 by 800 yards, which lay between it and the objective.
After a severe battle the 1st Battalion had incurred 165 casualties but the
enemy was beaten.
The Royal Norfolk's pushed on through the Siegfried line towards the Rhine, and
on the 23rd of March the Allies crossed the Rhine , the Royal Norfolk's
themselves crossing on the 29th and halting at Rees. They then moved back into
the Netherlands, via Lichtenvoorde and Enschende, for an attack on Lingen, a
small German Town on the east bank of the Ems canal. The Royal Norfolk's
crossed an intact bridge and following fierce house to house combat took the
town. From Lingen and a after a stiff fight for Brinkum, the Battalion headed
for Bremen. On 25th April the Royal Norfolk's were due to cross the flooded
plain to the city, but at the last minute were diverted through Arsten and
given the order to attack Habenhausen. The offensive was a success and on the
26th they entered Bremen. There was no more serious fighting and by 5th May all
offensive operations had been cancelled. After VE Day on May 8th the Battalion
moved to Minden where it ended its campaign as part of the Army of Occupation.