Pictures

Peter Griffin in December 1943

Captain Peter Griffin

 

Unit : "B" Company, 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion

Awards : Military Cross

 

At dawn on the 8th June, elements of their 856th and 857th Grenadier Regiments, supported by several tanks and self-propelled guns, attacked 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion. After being held by the Battalion's fire and finally put to flight when "B" Company mounted a bayonet charge. Those that survived withdrew to a farmhouse, some 200 yards from the Canadian positions, and at 09:00, "B" Company were given the order to attack it and drive them further back. Captain Griffin led two platoons of seventy-five men forward and caught the enemy completely unawares, quickly overwhelming the outlying positions before moving into the farm itself. "B" Company surged forward with their bayonets, but they were soon halted by withering fire and several men were killed. They nevertheless succeeded in gaining the farmhouse, but it was here that Griffin called off the attack when he saw that an unexpectedly high number of enemy infantry and armour were in the farmyard. The counterattack was swift, with the farmhouse being mortared and a tank with accompanying infantry moving up to assault it. Griffin ordered his men to withdraw to the Battalion's lines. This they did, closely pursued by the enemy, however this German counterattacking force ventured much too far and suffered heavy losses when they were caught in a lethal crossfire by the men whom Griffin had positioned to protect his flank. The attack had cost "B" Company eight men killed and thirteen wounded, however they had accounted for fifty German dead and, moreover, had forced them to abandon the farmhouse. For his actions here, Captain Griffin was awarded the Military Cross:

 

On 8th June 1944 in a counter attack on buildings occupied by the enemy this officer so successfully led his company that the buildings which were strongly held were captured, and heavy casualties inflicted on the enemy. The enemy immediately counter attacked with very superior forces and Captain Griffin by exceptional coolness successfully returned his company to a defensive position and held on calmly under heavy sniping and mortaring. In neither of these actions was this company supported by Battalion supporting arms.

 

Promoted to Major, Griffin served with the Battalion in Germany, following the Rhine Crossing in March 1945, where he commanded "A" Company.

 

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