|PLACE||Date||SUMMARY OF EVENTS AND INFORMATION|
|1 Jun||Weather was clear and hot. All briefing tents and models were ready for the briefing which began today. Movie tonight in the Y.M.C.A. tent.|
|2 Jun||Weather clear and hot. Briefing continued. Brigade Commander commended the Intelligence Section on their Briefing preparations, Said "They were the best in the Division." Amateur concert big success.|
|3 Jun||Weather extremely hot. Briefing continues. All Ranks showing a keen and intelligent interest. A violent storm threatened to destroy models and enlargements in the briefing tents. Battalion proceeded to DOWN AMPNEY Airfield where they say their aircraft for the first time and drew and fitted their parachutes.|
|4 Jun||Weather fine. Church Parade in the morning. Aircraft crews came to the Camp where they were introduced to their sticks their planes were to carry. These R.A.F. crews came from every country of the Empire. Their calm certainty of dropping their sticks at the right time greatly reassured the men. Major-General Gale, G.O.C. 6th Airborne Division, spoke to the Battalion of its approaching tasks and wished it God-speed and good hunting.|
|5 Jun||Weather was cloudy with a light wind. All ranks ordered on enforced rest during the morning and the afternoon. Battalion was paraded at 1930 hours in full kit. All Ranks checked and inspected to see if escape kits were well hidden and that no incriminating documents were being carried. "C" Company then left for their airport. Remainder of the Battalion proceed to Down Ampney Airport where each stick reported to its respective Aircraft. Parachutes were put on and a short prayer was offered for the success of the mission. Battalion emplaned at 2245 hours and were Airborne at 2300 hours in C-47 Aircraft. "C" Company had emplaned at 2230 hours in Albermarles.|
|6 Jun||The initial stages of operation OVERLORD insofar as the 1st. Cdn. Parachute Battalion was concerned, were divided into three tasks. The protection of the left flank of the 9th Para Battalion in its approach march and attack on the MERVILLE battery 1577 was assigned to "A" Company. The blowing of two bridges over the RIVER DIVES at 1872 and 1972 and the holding of feature ROBEHOMME 1873 was assigned to "B" Company with under command one section of 3 Para Sqdn Engineers. The destruction of a German Signal Exchange 1675 and the destruction of bridge 186759 plus neutralization of enemy positions at VARRAVILLE 1875 was assigned to "C" Company.|
The Battalion was to drop on a DZ 1775 in the early hours of D Day, "C" Company dropping thirty minutes before the remainder of the Battalion to neutralize any opposition on the DZ. The Battalion emplaned at Down Ampney Airfield at 2250 hours on the 5th June, 1944. "C" Company travelled in Albermarles and the remainder of the Battalion in Dakotas (C-47). The flight was uneventful until reaching the French Coast when a certain amount of A.A. fire was encountered. Upon crossing the coast-line numerous fires could be seen which had been started by the R.A.F. bombers. Unfortunately the Battalion was dropped over a wide area, some sticks landing several miles from their appointed R.V.. This factor complicated matters but did not deter the Battalion from securing its first objectives.
Protection of Left Flank of 9 Para Bn - A Company
"A" Company was dropped at approximately 0100 hours on the morning of 6th June, 1944. Liuet. Clancy, upon reaching the Company R.V. found only two or three men of the company present. After waiting for further numbers, unsuccessfully, of the Company to appear, he deceived to recce the village of GONNEVILLE SUR-MERVILLE 1676. Taking two men he proceeded and penetrated the village but could find no sign of the enemy. He then returned to the Company R.V. which he reached at approximately 0600 hrs and found one other Officer and twenty Other Ranks of the Battalion and several men from other Brigade Units waiting. The entire body then moved off along the pre-arranged route to the MERVILLE battery. Encountering no other opposition enroute other than heavy R.A.F. Bombardment at GONNEVILLE SUR-MERBILLE. Upon completion of the 9th Battalion task the Canadian party acted first as a recce patrol to clear a chateau 1576 from which a German M.G. had been firing and then as a rear guard for the 9th Battalion withdrawal toward LE PLEIN 1375. The party left the battalion area (9th Battalion) at LE PLEIN at 0900 hours and reached the 1st Cdn. Para. Bn. position at LE MESNIL BAVENT cross roads 139729 at 1530 hours on the 6th June, 1944.
ROBEHOMME - "B" Company
Two platoons of "B" Company were dropped in the marshy ground south and west of ROBEHOMME. Elements of these platoons under Sgt. OUTHWAITE then proceeded toward the Company objective. Enroute they encountered Lieut. TOSELAND with other members of "B" Company making a total of thirty All Ranks. They were guided through the marshes and enemy minefields to the ROBEHOMME bridge by a French Woman. On arriving at the bridge they met Capt. D. GRIFFIN and a further thirty men from various sub-units of the Battalion, including mortars and vickers Platoons. MAJOR FULLER who had been there for some time had left in an attempt to locate Battalion Headquarters. Capt. GRIFFIN waited until 0630 hours for the R.E.'s who were to blow the bridge. As they failed to arrive explosives were collected from the men and the bridge successfully demolished.
A guard was left on the bridge and the main body withdrawn to ROBEHOMME hill. Although there were no enemy in the village there were several skirmishes with enemy patrols who were attempting to infiltrate through the village and some casualties were suffered by the Company. An O.P. was set up in the church spire. An excellent view was obtained the road from PONT DE VACAVILLE 2276 to VARRAVILLE. Artillery and infantry could be seen moving for many hour along this road from the East. It was particularly unfortunate they wireless communication could not be made with Bn. H.Q. as the subsequent fighting of the Battalion was carried out in such close country that observation of enemy movement was almost impossible.
At 1200 hrs on the 7th June, 1944, it was decided to recce the route to Bn. H.Q.. Upon the route being reported clear orders were issued for the party to prepare to join Bn. H.Q. Lieut. I. WILSON, Bn. I.O. came from LE MESNIL to guide the party back. Them move was made at 2330 hours, the strength of the party by this time being 150 All Ranks, the addition having been made by stragglers of various units who had reported in. The wounded were carried in a civilian car given by the cure, and a horse and cart given by a farmer. The route was BRIQUEVILLE 1872 to BAVENT road 169729, through the BOIS DE BAVENT and on to LE MESNIL cross roads. Near BRIQUEVILLE the lead platoon was challenged by enemy sentries. The Platoon opened fire killing seven and taking one prisoner. Shortly afterwards this same platoon was fortunate enough to ambush a German car which was proceeding along the road from BAVENT. Four German Officers were killed. Bn. Headquarters was reached at 0330 hours on the 8th June, 1944.
VARRAVILLE - "C" Company
The majority of "C" Company was dropped west of the RIVER DIVES, although some sticks were dropped a considerable distance away including one which landed west of the RIVER ORNE. Due to this confusion the Company did not meet at the R.V. as per-arranged but went into the assault on the Chateau and VARRAVILLE in separate parties. MAJOR McLEOD collected a Sgt. and seven O.R.'s and proceeded towards VARAVILLE. En route they were joined by a party under Lieut. WALKER. One of the Sgts. was ordered to take his platoon to take up defensive positions around the bridge that the R.E. sections were preparing to blow. This was done and the bridge was successfully demolished.
MAJOR McLEOD and Lieut. WALKER with the balance of the party then cleared the chateau and at the same time other personnel of "C" Company arrived from the DZ and cleared the gatehouse of the chateau. The gatehouse then came under enemy M.G. and mortar fire from the pill box situated in the grounds of the chateau. The pill-box also had a 75mm A/Tk. Gun. The whole position was surrounded by wire, mines and weapon pits. MAJOR McLEOD, Lieut. WALKER and fire O.R.'s went to the top floor of the gatehouse to fire on the pillbox with a P.I.A.T. the enemy 75 mm A/Tk. Gun returned the fire and the shot detonated the P.I.A.T. ammunition. Lieut. WALKER, CPL. OIKLE, PTES. JOWETT and NUFIELD were killed and MAJOR McLEOD and PTE. BISMUK fatally wounded. PTES. DOCKER and SYLVESTER evacuated these casualties under heavy fire. CAPT. HANDON, 2 i/c of "C" Company was slightly wounded and his batman killed while proceeding to report to the Brigade Commander who had arrived in the village from the area in which he dropped. "C" Company, together with elements of Brigade H.Q. and the R.E.'s took up defensive positions around the village and a further party encircled the pill-box in order to contain the enemy. A further party of "C" Company under Lieut. McGOWAN who had been dropped some distance from the DZ arrived in VARAVILLE in time to catch two German Infantry Sections who were attempting to enter the town. Lieut. McGOWAN's platoon opened fire causing casualties and the remainder of the enemy surrendered. This platoon took up firing positions firing on the enemy pill-box. "C" Company H.Q. which was located in the church yard pinned an enemy section attempting to advance in a bomb crater killing at least three. The chateau was evacuated by our troops and left as a dressing station. An enemy patrol re-entered the chateau and captured the wounded including Capt. BREBNER, the Unit M.O., and C.S.M. Blair of "B" Company. This patrol although attacked by our own troops managed to escape with their prisoners.
Heavy enemy Mortar Fire and sniping was brought to bear on our positions from the woods surrounding VARAVILLE. During this time the local inhabitants were of great assistance, the women dressing wounds and the men offering assistance in any way. One Frenchman in particular distinguished himself. Upon being given a red beret and a rifle he killed three German Snipers. This man subsequently guided the Brigade Commander and his party towards LE MESNIL. Although it is believed that he was a casualty of the bombing attack that caught this party enroute to LE MESNIL.
At approximately 1030 hours the enemy pill-box surrendered. Forty-two (42) prisoners were taken and four of our own men who had been captured were released. From 1230 hours on artillery fire was brought to bear on VARAVILLE from the high ground east of the RIVER DIVES. At 1500 hours cycle troops of the 6th Commando arrived and at 1730 hours on 6 June, 1944, "C" Company proceeded to the Bn. area at LE MESNIL. The german prisoners giving evident satisfaction to the Frence population enroute.
VICKERS PLATOON - Initial Stages
The Vickers platoon was dropped in four sticks of ten or eleven each being a total of forty-one (41) All Ranks. For the first time their M.G.'s were carried in kit bags, a number of which tore away and were lost.
The Platoon was dropped over a wide area, a part of them joining "C" Company's attack on VARAVILLE, part joining "B" Company at ROBEHOMME and part joining Bn. H.Q. Casualties on the drop totalled twelve missing and three wounded. One of the missing, PTE. PHIPPS, was identified in a photo in a German newspaper found on a P.W. After the initial Company task had been accomplished the platoon was deployed to the Companies as single gun detachments or as Sections.
MORTAR PLATOON - Initial Stages
The Mortar Platoon was dropped over a wide area and suffered very heavy loss in equipment due to kit bags breaking away and a great majority of the men landing in marshy ground. As the platoon dropped they attached themselves to the nearest company they could find and assisted in the capture of the objectives. One detachment commander landed on top of the German pill-box at VARAVILLE. He was made prisoner and spent the rest of the time in the pill-box until the Germans surrendered to "C" Company. A point of interest was that the P.I.A.T. Bombs did definite damage to the interior of the pill-box and had a very towering effect upon the morale of the defenders.
Some of the Mortar Platoon which joined "B" Company at ROBEHOMME were detailed to guard the approaches to the destroyed bridge. Three enemy lorries full of infantry appeared on the other side of the bridge. The guard opened fire knocking out one truck killing most of its occupants. The other two lorries were able to withdraw. One of our own men who was a prisoner in the lorry was able to make good his escape.
Upon the detachments arriving at LE MESNIL they were re-grouped as a platoon and given three mortars which had arrived by sea. These mortars were set up in position in the brickworks where they engaged the enemy.
BATTALION HEAD QUARTERS - Initial Stages
The Commanding Officer, 2 i/c, Signals Officer and Intelligence Officer and a small portion of the Battalion Headquarters together with elements of 224 Para Fd. Ambulance and other Brigade Units met at the Battalion R.V. in the early hours of the morning of 6th June, 1944. The Signals Officer was detailed to look after the Enemy Signal Exchange near the R.V.. He went into the house and found a certain amount of Signals equipment which he destroyed but he found no Germans. The Intelligence Officer set out with two men to recce VARAVILLE and bring back a report of the situation. In the Battalion Headquarters meantime the party moved off to LE MESNIL taking with them many scattered elements including a 6 Pdr. A/Tk. Gun and crew. Upon reaching the Chateau 1574 they encountered part of the Brigade Headquarters. The party there upon split into unit parties and continued until they reached the orchards 141729 where they came under heavy sniping fire from nearby houses. This fire caused several casualties including one Officer. The enemy were forced to withdraw from the buildings after an attack by the party. The party reach the Battalion area at approximately 1100 hours on 6th June, 1944.
|7 Jun||In the early hours of the morning German infantry of the 857 amd 858 Grenadier Regiments supported by S.P. Guns and a number of Mk. IV Tanks attacked "B" and "C" Companies positions. Our mortars in the brickworks were given an ideal target as the German infantry formed up in close groups along a road in the apparent belief that we possessed no mortars. Heavy casualties were inflicted on the enemy and the main force of the attack broken, however casualties were inflicted on our own Battalion by the S.P. Guns and tanks. One tank penetrated to within one hundred yards of the "C" Company position but withdrew before the P.I.A.T.'s could fire effectively on it. Some of the enemy infantry also attempted to assault our forward positions but were driven off. It was learned later from P.W.'s that the object of the German attack was to secure the brickworks and cross roads at LE MESNIL. The rest of the day was quiet save for activity by enemy snipers.|
|8 Jun||"B" Company party returned from ROBEHOMME at 0230 hours and were a welcome addition to the Battalion strength. It was decided to clear the enemy from buildings at 144730 to neutralize the harassing fire which was coming from that position. Recce patrols went out from "C" Company early in the morning and confirmed the presence of enemy in the buildings. At 0900 hours CAPT. P. GRIFFIN with Company Headquarters and 2 platoons from "B" Company, strength of seventy-five (75), went into the assault on the position with the support of a naval bombardment.|
The party was split into two sections, the main body consisting of Capt. P. GRIFFIN and one and one half platoons assaulting the position from the front. The balance of Company Headquarters and the remainder were to go to the BAVENT road east of the objective to protect the flank. There were six to eight enemy M.G.'s in the hedge in front of the objective. These positions were abandoned as the assault party went it. The crews withdrawing to positions behind the hose. A small number of the enemy were found in the house and adequately dealt with. The enemy launched an immediate counter-attack and were caught in the crossfire of the assault party that had withdrawn to the hedge in front of the houses and the flank protection party was still moving along the edge of the orchard 145727 toward the BAVENT road. PTES. GEDDES and NAVAL with a Bren gun and a snipers rifle killed approximately twenty-five Germans. Total enemy casualties for this engagement were reckoned as approximately fifty dead and an unknown number wounded. "B" Company then withdrew to a hedgerow 141726 that continued to form a forward line of their position.
Later in the afternoon an enemy attack was launched against our left but was driven off by mortar and small arms fire. However they left snipers in the trees and hedgerows who were a nuisance factor until winkled out in the course of the next few days.
|9 Jun||Weather was fine. Enemy patrols were active along the Battalion front. Snipers who had infiltrated into the woods near our positions continued to be a nuisance factor. The Battalion sent out patrols both to recce the enemy positions and to deal with these snipers. The bulk of the Battalion had their first opportunity to secure some rest.|
|10 Jun||Weather continued to be fine and constant patrolling was maintained by the Battalion. During the day the enemy formed up on the glider field for an attack against the Brigade area but this attack was broken up by our artillery and M.M.G.'s before it got under way. Battalion position was shelled and machine gunned by the enemy at intervals during the day.|
|11 Jun||Weather continued fine. Enemy made probing attacks along the Battalion front but were driven back and suffered casualties. During the evening two patrols were sent out. One supported one section of R.E.'s went into BAVENT to recce the village and lay booby traps. The other was to go to VARAVILLLE and blow up the bridge that had been repaired by the Germans. "C" Company provided the patrol for BAVENT. They entered the village, laid booby traps and withdrew without making contact with the enemy. The patrol for VARAVILLE was provided by "A" Company, shortly after leaving our forward positions they contacted the enemy along the LE MESNIL - VARAVILLE road and were pinned down by heavy fire and eventually had to withdraw back to Company line.|
|12 Jun||Weather continued fine. Battalion Headquarters moved position to the brickworks across the road. Shelling and mortaring continued. Standing patrol was sent by "A" Company to CHATEAU 147735. This patrol captured an enemy artillery O.P. and ambushed a car containing a Gestapo Officer, Propaganda Officer, a Sergeant and a driver. The Propaganda Officer was brought in as a P.W. and the remainder were killed. Among the documents carried by the Officer was a list of British and Canadian P.W. Among them were the names of Liet. COTE and Sgt. BREEN.|
"C" Company sent a fighting patrol into BAVENT to obtain further information about enemy disposition. The enemy were found to be too numerous for the patrol to deal with having been reinforced during the night. The patrol withdrew without making contact.
|13 Jun||Weather continued fine. During the night a "B" Company patrol ambushed and killed the occupants of a VOLSWAGEN. Upon searching the car they found that one of the officers was a paymaster with 38,000 francs in his possession. In addition the car contained one days rations for one of the forward enemy companies.|
"A" Company standing patrol at the CHATEAU returned to Battalion lines and reported that an enemy force of approximately two companies strength was forming up for an attack on "A" Company lines. Our artillery was quickly brought into action and laid down a heavy and successful concentration in the middle of the enemy F.V.P. inflicting heavy casualties and completely breaking up the attack.
|14 Jun||Weather still continues fine. Battalion continued patrolling activities along its front making little contacts with the enemy. Very little shelling on either side.|
|15 Jun||Weather broke. Sky overcast and slight rain. Heavy enemy artillery and mortar concentration was put down on our lines at 0430 hours and lasted until 1000 hours. At conclusion of this fire and enemy attack was launched on "" Company lines supported by several tanks which was driven off after heavy fighting.|
|16 Jun||Weather continues the same. Sporadic shelling and mortaring during the day. Otherwise there was little or no activity.|
|17 Jun||Weather fine. Brigade relieved by the 5th Para Brigade and Battalion moved back to area RANVILLE 1173. No enemy activity in this area except for occasional planes at night.|
|18 Jun||Weather continued fine. Men enjoying their first real rest since D Day. Only enemy activity is occasional shelling of the main road that runs through RANVILLE.|
|19 Jun||Weather fine. Battalion continues to rest and infrequent shells from the enemy landed in the village.|
|20 Jun||Weather hot. Battalion moved at 1000 hours to a rest area by the RIVER ORNE 1176. Battalion dug in by the evening as the area is occasionally shelled by heavy German guns from HOULGATE.|
|21 Jun||Weather hot. Battalion started to clean up and draw fresh clothes from their big packs. Bathing parties were organized in the RIVER ORNE.|
|22 Jun||Weather continues fine. Parties organized for visits to the Army Cinema at LUC SUR MER and sight seeing tours around the beaches at QUISTREHAM.|
|23 Jun||Weather continues fine. Parties from the Battalion continue visits to cinema and beaches. Lt. General CRERAR visited the Battalion area.|
|24 Jun||Weather continued fine. Enemy places were overhead during the day and night but caused no damage.|
|25 Jun||Weather fine. The Battalion moved at 1000 hour back to the crossroads at LE MESNIL and took up positions relieving the 13th Battalion with two companies forward and one in reserve. Battalion Headquarters in the former positions and mortars were combined with the 9th Battalion firing from behind the brickyard.|
|26 Jun||Weather very wet with steady rain throughout the entire day. Enemy mortaring and shelling our positions at intervals during the day. Battalion conducting a vigorous patrolling programme. The reason - to pin point all enemy positions.|
|27 Jun||The weather today was quite warm with an occasional light fall of rain. It was decided to reinforce the "B" Company standing patrol by sending out a platoon and having the engineers make a strong point of the buildings on that location. During the procedure of this work enemy mortars and snipers kept up a harassing fire resulting in the death of PTE. MOHRING, "A" Company, by shrapnel and the wounding of several others. Enemy snipers accounted for one wounded man.|
At 1200 hours the Brigade Commander informed the Commanding Officer that the identification and location of enemy units was very unsatisfactory. As a result plans were made for an attack on a known enemy headquarters in an attempt to take prisoners and locate M.G. and mortar positions. The raid on the buildings was put in at 2330 hours by the 8th Battalion on our right with covering fire supplied by "A" and "B" Companies of this Battalion. The raid proved very successful and much knowledge was gained. Our casualties were one Officer and One O.R. slightly wounded. The remainder of the night proved very quiet.
|28 Jun||R.E.'s were again active and fortifying "B" Company forward position. Intermittent shelling and mortaring kept the Battalion on alert throughout the day. Forward O.P.'s reported that there were definite enemy strong points and road blocks being erected in front of our positions. At 1200 hours enemy artillery (S.P.'s) opened fire on "B" Company strong point. Several minor casualties were reported and dealt with by the R.A.P.. The remainder of the afternoon proved quiet with only minor patrol activity. At approximately 1800 hours PTE. KING, P.I.A.T. Platoon was killed and one man wounded when a lone enemy shell landed near them. The Brigade Commander along with the Battalion Commander made an inspection of the trenches. An enemy shell landing in the Battalion Headquarters area wounded the Battalion Intelligence Officer as well as the Signal Sergeant and two other ranks; A visiting R.E. Capt. was killed by another shell later in the same area. The Battalion mortar battery has been very effective in using counter-fire. As the country does not allow long vision O.P.'s find it difficult to observe fire with the result that ranging must be done by sound and map reference.|
|29 Jun||At 0530 hours in the morning "B" Company forward position received a terrific bust of fire from a 75mm gun firing at approximately 200 yards range using a flat trajectory. Several hits were scored on our position before counterfire could be brought to bear. The enemy appeared to be using A.P. Ammunition as they pierced the buildings and exploded beyond. SGT. MIDDLETON of the mortar platoon was seriously wounded by shrapnel. No other casualties were caused. Battalion mortars ranged on the enemy gun and a continuous barrage of mortar fire forced the enemy to cease fire and take cover. Artillery support was called up and a heavy concentration was laid on the enemy gun. The gun withdrew under fire. Work was carried out on the building defense positions and laying wire. Enemy fire was at a minimum during the day. R.E. party completed laying the flares (trip). Towards last light around 2200 hours a barrage of enemy mortar and artillery fire was laid on and around this battalion position followed by an attack concentrated on our right flank.|
|30 Jun||Infantry infiltrated through the right but were turned back after a series of sharp encounters. At 0200 hours a second attempt was made to breach our lines but met with no success. Our casualties for the day were twelve wounded and one killed. SGT. MIDDLETON died of wounds. After first light this morning the situation was quieter and up till noon the only activity was an exchange of mortar fire. "A" Company which up until the present had been held in reserve moved up and relieved "B" Company which had been holding the difficult forward position in the houses. Mortar fire on this position caused several casualties among "A" Company personnel. None were serious. Occasional rain made the day mizzerable for those on duty in the open. The remainder of the proved comparatively quiet.|
On the whole the men are in good spirits, earnestly looking forward to the day when they will return to England for a few days leave. Food is good but becoming monotonous after living on Compo ration for nearly a month. Letters and parcels arrive regularly and quickly and fair facilities for writing have been in order.
"C" Company moved a platoon forward to the position formerly occupied by a standing patrol. During the hours of darkness work was carried on by "A" and "C" Companies, laying wire and trip flares.