National Archives catalogue number WO 170/1341.
C of E
Church of England
Medium Machine Gun
Month and year : August 1944
Commanding Officer : Lt.Col. Coxen DSO MC
1st August 1944
Place: Rome Area 660735
Bn continues training including two Coys., on range, and the N.C.O's and Officers of A Coy. attended an Aerial Photography course run by I.O.
2nd August 1944
Model constructed for exercise (Bde dropping) "THISTLEDOWN". N.C.O's and Officers of B and H.Q. Coy's attended Aerial Photography I.O. remainder on normal training. Lieut Rall G., posted to Bn.
3rd August 1944
0800 - All Coys., briefed for Exercise "THISTLEDOWN". commencing with C.O's "O" Group at 08.00 hours.
1400 - Bn., embussed and moved off to Aerodrome.
1700 - Arrived at aerodrome and bivouaced for the night. All times for dropping advanced by half hour.
1800 - C.O. attended Brigade Commanders Conference.
4th August 1944
0615 - Main Bn. Group ready for take-off.
0635 - Exercise cancelled, Bn then returned to camp.
5th August 1944
0600 - C.O. attended Brigadier Commanders Conference at Brigade. Bn on Normal training. I.O. warned by C.O. to be ready to make model of Bde Area for Operation Bigot Dragoon. Trace supplied by Brigade.
6th August 1944
0900 - C.O. Briefed Adjt. S.O. and I.O. at Bde Ops. Room on operation. I. Section commence construction of model and make preparations for Briefing of Bn. Group. Aerial Photographs supplied by Brigade.
7th August 1944
Preparations continue for Briefing. Bn on C of E Church Parade in Rome. Thunderstorm in afternoon.
8th August 1944
Adjutant held admin conference with Officers responsible for preparation of Seaborne Party. Admin instruction No 4 issued. Seaborne kit to be packed and ready to transit by 08.00 hours 9th August. I.O. visited 509 Regt. Combat team to liaise with I.O.
9th August 1944
0900 - C.O. briefed Coy. Cmdrs. in Brigade Ops. Room on operation BIGOT ANVIL. Seaborne Party under 6 hours notice to move as from 18.00 Hours. Re supply containers packed.
10th August 1944
Briefing arrangements completed. Maps supplied by Brigade also Signal Instructions. Seaborne Party leaves.
11th August 1944
0700 - Pln. Commanders briefed for operation, day spent in studying ground.
12th August 1944
All ranks of Bn briefed and confined to camp.
13th August 1944
Briefing of Bn continued.
14th August 1944
Bn moves off to Ciampino Airfield, Rome. Aircraft were loaded, and Bn bivouaced until time of take-off.
15th August 1944
Place: Rome Area
0140 - Bn emplaned at Ciampino Airfield Rome.
0215 - Take-off.
0516 - C.O. and I.O. dropped from last plane of 5th Bn. Group just south of Fayence, approx. 10 miles N.W. of D.Z.
0520 - Remainder of Bn dropped within reasonable distance of DZ with the exception of A Coy. (K. Block) and detachments of Mortars, who dropped in same area as C.O. Two sticks dropped in Coastal area of Agay. A party amounting to approx. 80 men was collected by CO and started off for RV.
0620 - O.C. and half B. Coy. plus one Section M.M.G's. less M.M.G's. arrived at R.V.
0630 - 2i/c arrived at R.V.
0700 - Half B. Coy. and above Section of M.M.G's. under command of O.C. B. Coy moved off to point 113.5 at 431400.
0800 - 7 Pl. B. Coy. arrived at R.V. and are sent to join their Coy. on the hill.
0900 - Bn. Group moves off under command of 2 i/c (C.O. still marching to R.V.) to first objective. Order of March. C. Coy. plus one Section of Piat's Bn. HQ and one Mortar.
1000 - Bde. Comd visited this HQ. Leading Pl. of C. Coy. reached M. Wall of Les Serres 423399. Remainder of Coy. a short way behind were fired on from the group of buildings. Lt. Stewart and Medical Orderly killed, two men wounded. C. Coy. reformed and with 3" Mortar (HE) support and 2" Smoke attacked and cleared the group of houses, consolidated in all round defence. Total casualties 7 killed, 7 wounded. Enemy 16 killed 29 taken prisoners. The group of buildings was found to be a bakery and Field Post Office. Much information was found in Strong Box, in Post Office which was passed to Bde.
0700 - Moved up to point 113.5 431400 where they were met by odd parties of Germans. After several skirmishes they consolidated with two platoons slightly forward of point 113.5 and one on point.
1015 - Coy. counter-attacked by small force, but beat off the enemy who suffered casualties at least four killed.
1200 - Germans were seen forming up in Factory Area 430389. These were mortared by two 60mm Mortars which were under command B. Coy. The Coy Area was sniped at throughout the day. A. Coy. had not Rendezvoused in sufficient strength to take part in operation. Men who had arrived were in reserve in houses at 422404.
1405 - C.O. contacted Bn. HQ by wireless.
1600 - Sitrep. received from Bde.
2200 - C.O. arrived at Bde. stayed the night.
2245 - Capt. Barnes B. Coy. with two men recced. Factory Area 430389. Patrol returned 0500 hrs 16th Aug 44. Report enclosed.
16th August 1944
0500 - Lt. R. Holmes B. Coy. and 2 men went across River South of Factory to contact 509 US Para. Combat Team, on Hill 4337. Patrol returned at 13.00 hrs after contacting C.O. 509 at Bridge 424379.
0530 - Sgt. Brooks and 20 men B. Coy. recced. Bridge at 449389. Patrol report enclosed. Patrol returned at 0942 hrs.
0800 - C.O. rejoined Bn.
1115 - Capt. Mortimer entered Le Muy. See report enclosed.
1130 - Americans attacked village of Le Muy. C. Coy. stood to in case their assistance was required by Americans.
1300 - Lt. Riley with 6 pl. B. Coy took the Factory without a casualty, taking 33 prisoners. The Pl. was accompanied by the C.O.
1630 - Garrison of Le Muy surrendered after attack by Americans. Two Sherman tanks and several Jeeps were sighted on hill 427375 suspected leading elements of 45th M.S. Div. Bde. Comd. visited this HQ.
1730 - Bn. receives warning order to regroup.
1800 - Bn. moves to new positions as under. B. Coy. to Bridge area at 448387. Bn. HQ in factory area. A. Coy and support Group which now consists of 4 Mortars and two Machine Guns at 422403. C. Coy. plus 5 Piats stayed at Les Serres 423399. Two Platoons of B. Coy move off to Bridge area 477384 to await any troops which might come up the road either 36 US Div. or retreating enemy. Two Platoons of C. Coy stood by with 8 jeeps ready to bolster up B. Coy in case of emergency. These two platoons were sent up to B. Coy during the night.
17th August 1944
0700 - Forward elements of 36 US Div. passed through B. Coy then through the Village of Le Muy. Deputy Bde. Comd. contacted this HQ. Capt. Barnes B. Coy went to Farm at 493879 and collected three prisoners.
0900 - I.O. visited Bde HQ and received new locations of Bns.
1000 - C.O. went to Bde. and sent back order for Bn to regroup as under. A. Coy 422404. B. Coy and Support Coy 425404. C. Coy and Bn HQ 423399. 20 missing men rejoined Bn. Bn. received first re-supply issue of food.
Up to this time all prisoners have been handed straight over, either to Bde or Americans without interrogation.
We are now in possession of:
1-5 Tonner )
1-15 cwt. ) French
2 German GS Wagons
18th August 1944
Bn still at same location. Sitrep. received from Bde. Day spent in re-organizing Bn, refitting and collecting all surplus equipment around area.
1630 - C.O. receives O.O. Moz from Bde saying that the Bn will provide picquets of 1 Sec. strength, as following positions.-
HQ Coy. 442418 )
A Coy. 426391 )
B Coy. 462388 ) Trace Enclosed.
300 A/Tk. 419414 )
Coy Comd's called to conference. C.O. takes out picquets.
19th August 1944
0800 - C.O. attended Bde. Comds Conference.
0900 - C.O. held Coy. Comds Conference.
1630 - Warning order received from Bde, for Bn to move to new location at 22.00 hrs. (New location.- Barracks at Camp Calliene 571367).
1800 - C.O. held Coy. Comds conference.
2200 - Bn moved off to new location.
20th August 1944
Place: Frejus Camp Callieni
0200 - Bn arrived at new location.
0800 - C.O. attended Bde Comds conference.
0900 - Bn put at immediate notice to move as from 1200 hrs.
1400 - A Coy. and one Sec M.M.Gs. and one Sec. Mortars moved off to new positions 242627, having been warned to report to C.O. 6th Bn by 1800 hrs 20 Aug., and come under his command. Remainder of Bn received order to move by march route to above location at 0400 hrs 21 Aug.
1800 - Whole Coy. group in defensive position along road.
1915 - Patrol consisting of O.C. A Coy. two officers and 40 ORs. swept valley in front of Coy. positions, reported by civilians to be patrolled by enemy. 3 Pl. was sent to investigate house and whilst there a party of enemy one NCO and two men turned up. The NCO was shot and the two men taken prisoners. I.O. 6th Bn took over prisoners in the morning.
21st August 1944
0300 - Order to move at 0600 hrs cancelled. Bn at one hours notice to move.
0700 - American advance party arrive in A Coys. Area.
1400 - A Coy. returns to Camp Galliene by transport.
22nd August 1944
0900 - C.O. holds Coy Comds conference and issues Standing Orders for Camp.
1900 - 2i/c taken to Hospital sick.
23rd August 1944
1400 - Two casualties in accidental shooting. Pte. Wilkes was showing an American Carbine to a friend when it went off, injuring Sgt. Underwood and Pte. Gosling of A Coy. Pte. Wilkes was immediately placed under closed arrest. Bn still at same location. Issue of kit including clean clothes and replacements for kit lost.
24th August 1944
0915 - C.O. addresses Bn. Bn still at same location.
25th August 1944
0830 - C.O. attends conference at Bde. Move postponed.
2230 - Bn ordered to be prepared to move by 2359 hrs.
26th August 1944
0001 - Bn moves off to Red Beach No 2, Frejus to embark.
0100 - Bn arrives at docks.
0200 - Bn embarks on USS "Florence Nightingale".
0530 - Embarkation complete.
27th August 1944
Bn at sea.
28th August 1944
1000 - Ship drops anchor outside Naples harbour.
1600 - C.O. and C.O. 5th Bn go ashore for orders.
1800 - C.O. returns, holds "O" group. Gives orders for Bn to be prepared to disembark as from 0645 hrs 29th Aug.
29th August 1944
1000 - Bn disembarks. Bn embussed on key and moves off in Bde convoy to staging area Caserta, where a meal was prepared by Sea Party. Convoy then continued journey to Rome Area.
2300 - Bn arrived back at camp.
30th August 1944
Place: Rome Area 660735
Day spent in Kit checks and reorganization. C.O. held Company Commanders Conference.
31st August 1944
Continuation of Kit checks and reorganization.
Patrol report 16th Aug 44
Lt J.R.R. Holmes & 2 ORs B Coy.
Object - To contact CO. 509 US. Combat Team.
Time - Out 0500 hrs. In - 1300 hrs.
Route - From 432397 to 424379 via 439387 - 438372.
Result - Contacted CO. 509 to whom I explained 4th Para Bn dispositions.
Signed J.R.R. Holmes.
Lt, B. Coy.
Patrol Night 15/16 Aug
Capt Barnes and 2 OR.
Object - To recce Station and Factory area 430389.
Time - Out 2245. In 0600.
Route - South from pt 113.5 to railway line. West along line to Station. North to Road. East to Factory. NW to pt 113.5.
Results - M.G. fire encountered on W end of Southern Platform. Rifle fire from house immediately South of Station. MG seen firing up hill onto B Coys positions from N of Factory at irregular intervals positions. [?] mg positions around Factory to South of road and on railway embankment. Capt Barnes is of the opinion that area is held by one pl.
[Signed Capt. Barnes]
Patrol 16th Aug 44
Sgt Brookes & 2 men B Coy.
Object - To recce. bridge at 449389.
Time - Out 0530. In 0942.
Route - Pt 113.5 over to 441389 to dry river bed 448387 and return.
Result - Sentry in river bed under bridge another on side of bridge 400 to 500 yds in front of B Coy's positions. Five Germans gathered around container.
Sgd - Sgt. Brookes
LE MUY EPISODE
A short while before the Americans attacked the Village of Le Muy, two civilians reported to O.C. C Coy. that there were a number of Germans in Le Muy who wished to give themselves up.
Capt. Mortimer and Pte. Cairns volunteered to go into the village to ensure them safe conduct. By this time the battle had started, but amidst German and American fire the party started out for the German HQ. On arrival they were met by a Captain that commanded the defence Company, but he would not surrender without a written assurance of safe conduct and a cessation of fire by the Americans. As we could not promise this the Captain said that he would fight on, having plenty of men and ammunition.
The Party was given an escort of N.C.Os. and led back through the village. All the way back German soldiers were rushing up to the party and asking for the decision of the Coy Comd. On hearing it they were disgusted and throwing down their arms saying that if the attack continued they would not fire a shot but wait for capture.
The party then returned to our lines.
REPORT ON OPERATION
(1) B Coy., C Coy., ½ Bn HQ and ½ Support Coy. landed on the D.Z. area extending to La Motte and North with majority in area of high ground 1-2 miles N.W. of D.Z. This party gained Bn objectives on high ground S.E. of D.Z. and Bridge at Les Serres by 1200 hrs on D-Day, and on D+1 took the Factory and Station Area East of Le Muy.
(2) A Coy., ½ Support Coy., and ½ Bn H.Q. landed in area of Fayence with two sticks in area of Agay. This force after sundry small incidents rejoined Bn on Objectives at various times from 1800 hrs on D-Day and D+3 with exception of 1 Officer and 27 ORs. By D+5 all but 9 have been accounted for.
[Signed H.B. Coxon] Lt Col.
C.O. 4th Para. Bn.