National Archives catalogue number WO 170/1342.
Airborne Task Force
Advanced Dressing Station
Air Liaison Officer
Light Machine Gun
Medium Machine Gun
Operation / Observation Post (if upper case)
Prisoner of War
Regimental Aid Post
Regimental Combat Team
Month and year : August 1944
Commanding Officer : Lieut.Col. D.R. Hunter MC
1st August 1944
The first days of the month were occupied by preparation for the Bde aircraft exercise, "THISTLEDOWN".
2nd August 1944
The objects of the exercise were a) move from camp to airfield b) Airfield control c) Liaison with USAAF d) Reorganisation and serial RV drill on DZ. Summarised generally it was to be an exercise of organisation without a tactical picture.
3rd August 1944
1100 - The latter part of the morning was rather hectic, parachutes had to be drawn, the trucks loaded and all the last minute difficulties settled.
1230 - By mid-day everything was finished and after a meal, the Bn embussed,
1520 - the destination being two airfields in the near vicinity of ROME, GALERO and CAMPINO.
1700 - On arrival the procedure of fitting 'chutes, taking over aircraft, etc commenced,
2000 - and in the early evening, after a substantial meal had been consumed, the men rolled out their sleeping bags and attempted to get as much rest as possible, as reveille had been fixed for 0400 hrs.
4th August 1944
0530 - Just as preparations for emplaning had been completed it was announced that the descent would not take place and units would return to their respective camps forthwith. Despite this cancellation the main purposes of the exercise had been achieved and many valuable lessons regarding the preliminary phases of an airborne operation had been learned.
5th to 6th August 1944
The next two days were spent in resting, and checking kit and equipment, and in general re-organising the camp to its normal state.
7th August 1944
The great news that briefing preparations for operation "DRAGOON" and the I.O. with his section commenced work on the sand-model, air photograph enlargement and all the other incidentals of a briefing room.
9th August 1944
It was not possible to make a successful completion in time for briefing of Coy. Comdrs who, therefore they were put into the picture at the Bde. briefing tent. On the same day the seaborne party, whose task it was to take sufficient stores and equipment across to maintain the Bn. in the field after the initial stages, departed. Major C.E.R. Dudgeon was in charge of this party.
11th August 1944
The next stage of the briefing found the unit briefing tent in full use. This time it was the Coy. Comdrs. briefing their Pl. Comdrs,
12th August 1944
and on the following day the Pl. Comdrs passed on the whole story to the men under their command. The general story was that 2 Indep. Para. Bde. would combine with U.S. paratroops to form an airborne task force of almost divisional strength. Their task would be to drop NORTH of FREJUS in the South of FRANCE on "D" Day some 2 hrs before the seaborne party initially composed of the U.S. 36 and 45 Divs. made their landings. Their control of this area would be a serious compromise to any enemy withdrawal from the coastal areas and a hindrance to any attempted reinforcement.
13th August 1944
The next day saw a repetition of this briefing with far greater attention to smaller details, and
14th August 1944
this was followed by a hectic morning of preparation for the departure to the airfield, the programme being very similar to that of Exercise "THISTLEDOWN".
1520 - Again, all tasks were completed and at 1520 hrs the Bn columns moved off to the GALERO and CAMPINO airfields, B Coy and Support Coy HQ proceeding to the former and the remainder of the Bn to the latter. The take-off which was to be shortly after midnight did not permit a serious attempt at sleep,
1900 - and after a good meal most of the troops contented themselves with lounging and chatting under the wings of the aircraft.
15th August 1944
Place: Campino, Galera
0130 - By 0130 hrs emplaning had been completed and
0140 - ten minutes later the first aircraft took off. The flight, in general, was uneventful and the French coast
0440 - was reached after 3 hours flight. No coastal A/A batteries opened up and the planes flew into France unopposed. The mist was thick and hung over the D.Z. area, and as far as this unit was concerned the only planes that managed to drop their sticks on the correct D.Z. were the ones that had left from GALERA airfield.
REFERENCE MAPS :- FRANCE 1:100,000 DRAGUIGNAN - BRIGNOLES SHEET 15Q. EUROPE ROAD MAP 1:200,000. MARSEILLES - MENTONE SHEET 84.
0500 - Those based on CAMPINO airfield dropped the bulk of the Bn in the wide area FAYENCE - ST. PAUL-EN-FORET - CALLAS, on average about 20 miles from the D.Z. Major McCall in command B Coy, found his party intact except for 12 men, one of whom had been shot dead on the D.Z. by an American paratroop, and realising that the remainder of the Bn had been dropped wide he took his force to LE MITAN to act as a defence for Bde HQ. Sgt Tucker, 2 Pl and Capt Thomson who were in Major McCall's party had dropped in the vicinity of an enemy occupied house at CLASTRON and were taken prisoner. However, at 0900 hrs, the sight of the gliders bringing in reinforcements was too much for the Germans, and acting on Sgt Tucker's suggestion the whole force of eighty odd men laid down their arms and surrendered to him, handing over 48,000 francs from the canteen. By this time, however, American glider-borne elements had started to attack CLASTRON and despite Sgt Tucker's signs to them to cease fire, the Americans did not stop, so a German medical Cpl was sent out with a white flag and the firing ceased.
Meanwhile the bulk of the Bn had now started to work their way SOUTH from their wide drop in the FAYENCE area. There were four main groups, the first consisting of the C.O. and half Bn HQ, the second of Major Hart and the majority of C Coy, the third of Major Blackwood with D Coy and a number of American parachutists, and the fourth of Lieut Holden and twenty men. The first group commenced the move SOUTH and reached the FAYENCE - DRAGUIGNAN road without meeting any opposition. There, the C.O. went on ahead with an escort of two men to contact Bde HQ as soon as possible, eventually reaching there at 1530 hrs. The Adjutant took command of the party and after a stiff march Bn HQ was reached at 2300 hrs. Major Hart and his C Coy party had also reached the Bn area without opposition at 2030 hrs.
The third group under Major Blackwood had been dropped in the area MR 524744 and by 0830 hrs 4 officers and 80 men had assembled. At 0845 hrs the group left the area with the intention of approaching the D.Z. via rd junc 520728, river valley 5256. Approaching the village of TOURETTES 5256, the group heard firing in FAYENCE and shots were being fired in their direction; at the same time it became obvious that if the enemy were in TOURETTES, the village could not be by-passed without the party coming into full view of the enemy. A patrol was sent forward to report on the enemy situation, and the village was found to be clear, but FAYENCE was reported to be held by enemy. The group then entered TOURETTES and took up defensive positions, and the next incident was a report from the maquis to the effect that there were some wounded parachutists a few kilometres NORTH of the village; a stretcher party was organised to go out and collect them. The 2nd i/c, Major P.B. Dudgeon was found to be amongst the wounded, who were brought back and put into the Partisan Hospital. At 1330 hrs the village was taken over by the maquis and the group proceeded SOUTH towards LE MUY. Just SOUTH of TOURETTES a convoy of enemy vehicles were sighted about two miles to the WEST moving eastwards. Major Blackwood ordered the group off the road and an ambush was laid. However just before the convoy was due to pass the group, fire was opened up further down the road and the vehicles stopped. Major Blackwood sent a patrol forward to investigate the source of the firing. During this time an officer from 517 RCT reached the group and stated that he had a force of 60 men with him as well as an 81mm and a 60mm mortar. A few minutes later the patrol returned with the information that about 15 enemy vehicles were being held up by a mixed British and American force of some 25 men, but that they were now being attacked by a force of 60 to 70 Germans. The group then moved down towards the vehicles, took up position, and fired on them with L.M.Gs and mortar fire, inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy and damaging several vehicles. The enemy then withdrew leaving 8 killed and 4 wounded, as well as an officer and 2 men who were taken prisoner earlier in the battle. A farm house nearby was found to contain 5 Americans, one of whom was Chief of Staff to 1st ABTF, they immediately put themselves under command Major Blackwood. An attack on this house had been held off mainly by the determination of two men of this unit. After consolidation of the position a party of maquis was contacted and the German PW handed over to them. A few hours later contact was made with a strong US group from 3 Bn 517 RCT and the force proceeded towards LE MUY bivoacing near BAGNOIS for the night. The last group under the I.O. Lieut. Holden was dropped 2 miles north-east of FAYENCE. No contact was made with the enemy that day, but progress was very slow owing to a number of men who had received minor injuries on landing. At 1100 hrs. Lieut. Miller was found together with a number of his Pl; he had been injured on landing and could not walk. He was put under the care of the maquis and the remainder of the party joined Lieut. Holden. By 1230 hrs the party had grown to a force of 1 officer and 30 men and was moving towards the west of FAYENCE; after moving very slowly for the remainder of the day the party bivouaced for the night.
Back in the LZ area the air armada carrying glider troops, two coys of the mortar Bn, 300 A/L A/Tk Bty, Medical services had appeared on the scenes at 1800 hrs. For half an hour the air was filled with hundreds of planes and gliders. It was learned that the only casualties were 1 killed and 7 injured. By now the Bn strength had grown sufficiently to form a stronger position round the NORTH road leading into the LZ. The remainder of the night was very quiet.
16th August 1944
0630 - The two parties returning from their wide drop continued their arduous march the following day and when Major Blackwood's force reached the road leading into the LZ from the west he went ahead to report the arrival of his party, consisting of 5 Offrs and 110 O.Rs. Throughout the long march and despite their long contact with the enemy they did not suffer any casualties.
1000 - Just as this force had returned, information was received that a convoy of 15 enemy vehicles was forming up in the area of track 4743. The Commanding Officer, ordered Major Hart and 20 O.Rs to move along the road and engage the vehicles. However, the convoy had also been seen by Lieut Holden's party which had been moving SOUTH in the direction of LE MUY. His party opened fire on the four leading vehicles, killing the drivers and wrecking the machines. As the vehicles were still being attacked, enemy infantry were seen to be approaching the force. Fire was brought to bear on them and the enemy dispersed, but owing to the superiority in numbers of the enemy, Lieut Holden's force moved into the hills. A fierce fight then ensued, during which the enemy tried to pass through more vehicles, but fire was opened on the trucks and the infantry escorting them, and eventually the trucks were abandoned and the infantry took to the hills. During this action, 7 enemy were killed, and 7 more taken prisoner. The party then repaired two staff cars and one heavy vehicle out of the convoy and drove to BAGNOLS where the prisoners were handed over to the partisans. When Major Hart's party arrived at the track junction 4743 the action was over, and all that was found was eight abandoned cars and seven dead Germans, although 12 enemy were still in a nearby farm. These were engaged by the force, but only two PWs were taken as the remainder dispersed. During this time the Adjutant who had been on patrol with another officer and 10 men in the area of ST. PAUL-EN-FORET, returned to Bn HQ with the information that there was no enemy traffic on the lateral road between FAYENCE and DRAGUIGNAN, but that a small force of enemy were known to be operating between ST. PAUL-EN-FORET and Xrds LES QUATRES CHEMINS 411502 and the partisans were erecting a rd block at the X rds. On receipt of this information the Commanding Officer sent Capt Hunter, Lieut Brammall and 12 O.Rs. to contact the partisans at the X rds, spending the night there, and then moving on in the morning to harass enemy movement in the area CALLAS - MONTFERRAT. The partisans were contacted, but could not report any fresh enemy activity. For the remainder of the Bn in the LZ area the day had been comparatively quiet, one of the items of interest being the dropping of supplies by parachute in the morning. In addition several smaller parties rejoined the Bn.
17th August 1944
Throughout the night, nothing had materialised at the X rds 411502 so the party moved NORTH to contact the Maquis at CALLAS. In addition the CO with a party of 6 ORs left Bn HQ in a jeep to proceed to FAYENCE, which had been reported clear of enemy, and where Major P.B. Dudgeon was reported to be having been taken there by partisans. The party proceeded via X rds QUATRES CHEMINS and contacted the partisans who told them that Capt Hunter's party have moved to CALLAS; also that the enemy expected the night before were now approaching the X rds. An ambush was laid, and the enemy, preceded by scouts, were attacked at point blank range. A fire fight ensued, and the enemy then took up defensive positions around the X rds. As the COs party was obviously outnumbered, the party retired leaving behind one wounded NCO
1400 - and returned to Bn HQ where he ordered B Coy less 1 Pl to move to the area AUBERGE PENNAFORT 422474 with the object of dealing with the enemy at the X rds. This force was later joined by the remaining pl. of C Coy making the total strength approx 130 all ranks. Meanwhile, Capt Hunter's party had heard through partisans that there was considerable enemy activity on the DRAGUIGNAN - FAYENCE rd to the west of QUATRES CHEMINS causing a certain threat to CALLAS. The patrol reached the rd, one mile WEST of QUATRES CHEMINS, saw the enemy in the farmhouse and engaged them by fire, taking them completely by surprise. The enemy were thus engaged by the patrol until ammunition ran out, and it was then decided to withdraw to CALLAS to get more ammunition from the partisans. By the time this was done, a report was received that some of the enemy were moving from the road towards CALLAS. At about 4 km from the village the enemy turned WEST in the direction of DRAGUIGNAN. Capt Hunter then split his patrol, leaving all but two under command of Lieut. Brammall to organise the defence of the village while he took 2 O.Rs to the farmhouse on the rd where the enemy were still in position; a short fire fight ensued, Capt Hunter was forced to withdraw owing to enemy superiority in numbers and fire power, and returned to CALLAS where he found the village completely organised for defence. The patrol had been strengthened by the arrival of Capt Cruden and his stick which had been dropped several miles NORTH of the village. During this series of small actions it was estimated that some 20 enemy were killed or wounded for the loss of one man killed and one wounded.
In the late afternoon the enemy counter-attacked B & C Coys at the X rds QUATRE CHEMINS and the weight of their attack caused a withdrawal to the high ground nearby. In this action the enemy killed 4 ORs. Meanwhile the two American Divs; 45 Div and 36 Div had made contact with 1 ABTF and during the day had been passing through LE MUY. The Div Comdr had ordered that until 45 Div. captured DRAGUIGNAN, B & C Coys in order to protect the right flank of the advance would maintain contact with the enemy at QUATRE CHEMINS. For some reason the message was not received and contact was lost.
18th August 1944
0600 - However at dawn movement was observed by B Coy which turned out to be the enemy trying to withdrawn to the NORTH. A party was sent out to cut them off and the enemy eventually surrendered. They numbered in all 10 Off and 87 O.Rs. So ended the action at LES QUATRES CHEMINS.
1100 - B & C Coys returned to find Bn HQ at the AUBERGE and the whole party then marched back
1230 - to the Bn area at LE MITAN. The remainder of the day and the whole of the next day
19th August 1944
was spent in resting and clearing up.
20th August 1944
On the following day preparations were made for a march move to the FREJUS area, and in the
2200 - late evening the Bn started the 15 mile march.
21st August 1944
0400 - At 0400 hrs the destination was reached - a hutted camp, 4 kilometres NORTH of FREJUS. The Bn made the most of the rest of the night as regards sleep,
1200 - and at mid-day moved a few hundred yards down the rd to a Bn area. There they formed part of Army reserve, and it was made known that a return to Italy would be made, and the Bn was placed at 3 hrs notice to move.
25th August 1944
This notice did not, however, materialise until the late evening
2200 - of the 25th when the Bn were warned that they would move by march route to FREJUS docks.
26th August 1944
0100 - The move commenced at 0100 hrs, and before first light the unit had been taken on board the American ship "FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE".
29th August 1944
After a very crowded, although peaceful, passage the ship eventually docked at NAPLES and the Bn found the transport waiting to take them back to the starting point of their adventure - OTTAVIA in the ROME area. This was reached at midnight and
30th to 31st August 1944
the Bn spent the remainder of the month resting and cleaning up.
BIGOT - DRAGOON
5th Bn (Scottish) The Parachute Regiment.
11 Aug 44
Ref Maps: FRANCE 1:100,000 Sheets 16Q, 15R, 15Q.
FRANCE 1:25,000 Sheets XXXV - 44 - 1 and 2. XXXV - 44 - 5 and 6.
Distribution of Maps is shown at Appx "A".
2 Indep Para Bde Gp, O.O. No.1 dated 10 Aug is available in Bn Ops Room. This document is referred to in this order and will be read by 2 i/c, All Coy Comds, Adjt, S.O., I.O., M.O. and Padre.
(a) See Bde O.O. Annx 1, available in Bn Ops Room.
(b) Recorded infm in Bn Briefing Room.
(c) Later infmn, if any, will be notified either through Bn HQ in Camp or ALOs on airfds.
2. Own Tps.
(a) Relieving ground forces )
(b) 1st Airborne Task Force ) See Bde O.O. Annx 2.
(c) 2 Indep Para Bde Gp with under comd "A" Coy 2 C.M.L. Bn (4.2 Mor American) are seizing area excl LA MOTTE 3941 - pt 100.7 4143 - excl LE MUY 4239, to destroy all enemy in that area and deny enemy access therein, holding it for further landings on D Day.
(d) 4 Para Bn - area LA MUY.
(e) 6 Para Bn - area LA MOTTE.
3. Additional Tps.
5 Para Bn has
under command - "D" Tp, 300 AL ATk Bty, det (1 offr & 8 ORs) 127 Para Fd Amb.
in support - 64 Fd Bty. "C" Tp, 2 Para Sqn RE.
4. 5 Para Bn will reorg in area LE MITAN 4143 and primarily be in Bde res but will defend an area from pt 100.7 4143 incl - br 438426 incl.
5. Air Plan. See Appx "B".
C Tp 2 Para Sqn RE
- LOU CASTELLET 425428
(to be confirmed by orders at RV)
7. "B" Coy Gp.
(a) Tps - "B" Coy with
(i) under comd - one sec 2 Pl (PIAT), two dets D Tp 300 AL ATk Bty (2 guns).
(ii) in support - two secs C Tp 2 Para Sqn RE.
(b) Task - est def posn pt 100.7 4143, particularly guarding rd approach from the NORTH.
(c) Med - evacuation through ADS.
8. "C" Coy Gp.
(a) Tps - "C" Coy with
(i) under comd - one sec 2 Pl (PIAT)
(ii) in support - two dets D Tp 300 AL ATk Bty (2 guns), two secs C Tp 2 Para Sqn RE.
(b) Task -
(i) provide covering inf for RE work on br 438426.
(ii) deny enemy use of br at 438426 with minimum force.
9. "D" Coy. Bn res in RV area.
10. 2 Pl (PIATs). Pl, less two secs in Bn res in RV area.
11. 3 Pl (MMG). Bn res in RV area.
12. 4 Pl (Mortars).
(a) Task - Bn res in RV area, at the same time supporting "B" and "C" Coys' fronts with D.F.
(b) OPs. - one to "B" Coy.
13. Arty. 64 Bty in support of Bn. FOO with Bde HQ.
(a) Recce - 1 offr and 4 ORs will RV with Bn HQ, and then recce gun posns "C" Coy area continuing to "B" Coy area.
(b) Guns - land on LZ O at 0814 hrs.
15. RE. Tasks:-
(i) mine rd approaching area pt 100.7 4143.
(ii) mine br at 938426, later preparing it for demolition if necessary.
16. AA. Passive.
17. Development. As soon as other tps become available the Bn will be required complete as Bde res with the likely task of supporting 4 Para Bn from pt 143 4339.
(a) RAP - house at 424429, adjacent to Bn HQ.
(b) ADS - est at ST MICHEL D'ESCLANS 422434.
(c) Policy - it is the responsibility of every man to assist during Phase I in the following ways:-
(1) assisting any light casualties to the RV provided he doesn't unduly delay himself.
(2) note the whereabouts of any casualties seen and pass on the infm at the RV.
(a) Res Amn. This will be dropped in containers released immediately before paratps drop and should land in Bn RV area.
(b) Adm sec will locate and org dumps of res amn; priority 3" Mortar.
(a) All water will require sterilizing.
(b) Sources of water will be notified to Bn HQ.
21. Tpt. All gliderborne and other tpt is under Bde control.
22. Malaria. Full malarial precautions will be taken as area is highly malarious.
23. Captured material. Location of any useful enemy material and details of captured arms, eqpt and amn, will be notified to Bn HQ.
24. Refugees. Movement of civilians is prohibited and refugees will be routed off rds into fields.
25. PW. Early capture of PW and/or local inhabitant is vital for intelligence, and will be passed back to Bn HQ with all speed.
26. Burials. Padre will org burial and maintain record of locations. Isolated burials will only be made in an emergency.
27. Documentation. See Appx "C".
28. Resupply. Bn Adm Offr, Capt CORBY, will study Bde Resupply Plan in Bde O.O.
29. Bn HQ - LOU CASTELLET 425428.
30. Bde HQ - LE MITAN 425422.
31. Wireless -
(a) Sets will open at RV on the authority of an officer.
(b) Diagram at Appx "D".
32. Code Signs. - issued through Coy sigs terminal. 38 set operators will take an extract for period D - D+5.
(a) Bn -
Bde and/or lateral
Map Co-ordinate Code
Prearranged Message Code
M209 Cipher Converter.
(b) Bn informal:-
Airborne Codex - two per Coy.
Jargon Code - see Appx "E".
(c) R/T Staff Code will be used as wireless links, i.e. SUNRAY etc.
34. Ground to Air.
(a) Panel Code carried by Bn HQ and used with Bde identification smoke PURPLE if necessary.
(b) YELLOW smoke will only be used by friendly tps to identify themselves.
35. Air to Ground. A/c asking for YELLOW smoke will show WHITE Verey Light. A/c acknowledge by wing waggling.
36. Phone Code Names.
(i) Bde - CIGARETTE.
(ii) 4 Para Bn - CENTER.
(iii) 5 Para Bn - CITATION.
(iv) 6 Para Bn - CELOTEX.
37. Line. Initially line will only be laid to "B" Coy when in posn; all other Coys will await instructions.
38. Synchronization. Watches will be synchronized through ALOs on airfds after 2000 hrs, D-1.
THIS ORDER WILL ON NO ACCOUNT BE TAKEN ON THE OPERATION. BN COPIES WILL BE HANDED IN TO ORDERLY ROOM BY 1200 HRS, D-1.