Lieutenant Roy Ross Littlejohn

 

Unit : No.4 Commando

Service No. : 197229

Awards : Military Cross

 

Lieutenant Littlejohn went out at 1430 hours on the 19th June by way of La Grande Ferme du Buisson with the idea of crossing the enemy lines along the Longuemare-Gonneville Road at a point about half way between Gonneville and the crossroads at 144750. He crossed the open country between La Ferme and the road by way of the orchard North of the farm, and then through a field of standing corn North-East to approximately 144768 where an enemy working party was heard at 141768 and another seen in area of track junction 142769 thought to be preparing Machine Gun positions. The wood at 148767 was observed and found clear.

 

They then crawled forward through long grass to a stream at 144766 and on to a second stream across a field of alternate strips of standing corn and bare ground where they lay up to observe the enemy positions along the line of the road. Enemy were heard all along track 145767 and 152764 and daylight outposts were suspected on the forward slope of a large wood and field of bare ground at 147767 and 147765.

 

As soon as it was sufficiently dark an attempt was made to cross the Gonneville-Longuemare road between 147757 and 150762.

 

They then crawled forward up to the road which is bordered by trees and a thick hedge with a bank, and keeping to the hedge crawled along it for a distance of about 500 yards, observing the enemy positions closely as far as a point where telegraph poles cross the road at 148757 where enemy were heard on the East side of the hedge. The enemy were not very alert as they reached the hedge unobserved and watched 2 positions from a distance of 5 yards. Lieutenant Littlejohn and Sergeant Thompson crawled back and explored the Northern end of the road between 150765 and the wood at 145767, but discovered that here also the line was continuous and no penetration possible. Enemy were found to be thick on the ground with 2 man positions every 20 yards and 2 man patrols visiting posts regularly.

 

They went back to the gully and lay up all day of the 20th June within 50 yards of the enemy positions. The enemy were in occupation of the whole line during daylight hours. Their positions were extremely well concealed and...

 

Lieutenant Littlejohn stated that the enemy seemed extremely jittery, firing and letting off flares and light signals at the slightest move. They are extremely alert and though probably low category troops, seem well disciplined.

 

At about 1930 hours on the 20th June, Lieutenant Littlejohn decided to try and work his way between of the posts and they crawled forward to the road, reaching it at about 2130 hours. On raising his head to observe, Lieutenant Littlejohn found himself looking straight down the muzzle of an enemy rifle. It had been decided that in the event of surprise being lost, grenades would be thrown and the party would separate and make a dash for it.

 

The enemy was apparently more surprised than Lieutenant Littlejohn. At any rate his reactions were slower. Lieutenant Littlejohn threw a grenade into the pit and dashed back, making for the cover of the gully, but was shot and badly wounded in the leg on the way. Sergeant Thompson reached the shelter of a bomb crater in the open field.

 

Lieutenant Littlejohn reached the gully however, and though wounded remained there observing, intending to make another attempt to penetrate further South, but was too badly injured to do so.

 

A search party about an hour later of about 10 men came out from the enemy lines. One fired at Lieutenant Littlejohn from a 2 yard range and missed him. Littlejohn unable to move, shammed "dead".

 

The search party stripped him of his pistol and ammunition but made no attempt to search for maps or papers.

 

They checked that he was "dead" by turning him over with a kick and prodded him in the face with a bayonet. Littlejohn still made no move in spite of great pain, and eventually the Germans moved off leaving him for "dead".

 

Sergeant Thompson is presumed to be a prisoner at Lieutenant Littlejohn heard the Germans who were searching him say "der einer ist gerangen der anderer ist tot".

 

Lieutenant Littlejohn still had not the strength to move and about 40 minutes later a second looting party came out, who dragged him out of the gully into the open ground on the East of the stream where they removed his boots, compass, his watch and field glasses but again did not take his papers or his map. Lieutenant Littlejohn still made no move and pretended to be "dead".

 

By darkness, Lieutenant Littlejohn mustered sufficient strength to move, and in spite of his wounded leg, crawled back over 2000 yards to No.47 Commando's lines, where he was picked up in an exhausted condition at 0330 hours on the 21st June 1944.

 

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