Private Leonard Cole

 

Unit : "C" Company, 12th Parachute Battalion.

Army No. : 1833437

 

Private Leonard Cole served with the 12th Parachute Battalion. During the Normandy campaign he was severely wounded and lost consciousness, regaining it after being returned to the UK for treatment in an American hospital in Oxford. The following are brief notes from a diary that he kept during the first days of the invasion.

 

5th June Monday

Went to Keevil aerodrome but invasion cancelled - This should be on the 4th - wrong entry.

 

Went in Stirling 20 others, I carried pick, shovel, 4 grenades, sten, 8 magazines, 2 bren mags, small pack, high explosive.

 

After 1 hrs. (Time about 1 a.m. Whole of 6th Airborne Division used) dropped in Normandy, burnt hand. Some flak and small arms fire, also shelling.

 

June 6th Tuesday

1 a.m. Jumped from Stirling with 19 other chaps saw flak as I was floating down - burnt hand with cord on rifle valise - landed safely - fixed up sten and small pack - found R.V. after some little while wandering around - not many there - shells going overhead - car went by and fired at us no one hit - when organised moved along road and across fields to positions - no opposition - started digging in - Noise from beach landings on other side of river terrific bombing - move up with rest of platoon to forward hedgerow where several of our chaps had been killed - found 2 German dead and about 5 of ours including Sgt. Jones, Sgt. Milburn, Ptes Skellet, Hately and Dobson - 6 pounder also knocked out - Worrel wounded - Sgt. Commons injured hand - our shells put up barrage about 100 yds in front - later in afternoon saw several German tanks just in front with turrets open and man on top - they turned right - in evening own mortars fired short in our midst no one hurt - B Company took over - went back to old positions.

 

Wednesday June 7

Expecting attack - mortaring and shelling - a little small arms fire - Cyster killed by shell - took up positions in forward hedgerow while other unit went forward to take Longueville - heavily shelled - attack on left flank - don't know how small arms fire missed me - had to go back to old positions - got in slit trench - shelling and small arms fire - situation restored - our positions taken over - moved to wood a little way back dug in - some bombing not far away at night.

 

Thursday June 8th

Moved from wood to quarry - shelling on way - dug in - lost account of days.

 

 

My thanks to George Cole for sending in a copy of his brother's diary.

 

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