National Archives catalogue number WO 171/1510.
52nd Light Infantry (2nd Ox and Bucks)
6-Pounder (Anti-Tank Gun)
Command / Commander
Commander Royal Artillery
Commander Royal Engineers
Commander Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
Folding Boat Equipment
Foot cycle ?
Field Dressing Station
Forward Observation Officer
General Staff Officer 1
General Officer Commanding
Headquarters Royal Engineers
Medium Machine Gun
Physical Training / Point (if lower case)
Royal Army Medical Corps
Regimental Aid Post
Royal Army Service Corps
Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
Reinforcement Holding Unit
Small Arms Ammunition
Self-Propelled / Support (if lower case)
Month and year : June 1944
Commanding Officer : Major J.C.A. Roseveare
1st / 2nd June 1944
Place: Blakehill Farm
Sqn in Transit Camp. Recreational trg and final preparation of eqpt. 3 Tp at DOWN AMPNEY. Outline Plan and Summary of events Appx "A".
3rd June 1944
Place: Blakehill Farm
All ranks briefing with models, maps and photographs.
4th / 5th June 1944
Place: Blakehill Farm
First date for op. Cancelled due to weather.
5th / 6th June 1944
Place: Blakehill Farm
D Day. For events from night 5/6 Jun to night 7/8 Jun see Appx "A" attached. All map refs refer to Sheet 7F/2 France 1/50.000.
8th June 1944
Place: Le Mesnil de Bavent 140728
Repeated attacks all day by enemy particularly EAST of X rds. 1 Tp at X rds 133726. 3 Tp replace 2 Tp EAST of X rds. HQ take up 3 Tp posns on NE of perimeter. 2 Tp into res for a rest.
2200 - L cpl PERRY and marching personnel arrive with 3 Lt wt MCs and 2 FCs.
9th June 1944
Place: Le Mesnil de Bavent 140728
Enemy sit remains same. Continued mortar and shell fire.
1530 - Cpl THORNE and veh party arrived location. Cpl GREEN and sec from 2 Tp booby trapped covered approach to posns EAST of X rds.
1700 - Lt SHAVE and sec from 2 Tp det to join 8 Para Bn area 140705 for patrols and RE work.
2000 - Very hy MG fire heard SW ESCOVILLE area.
2030 - OC at 1 Tp posn. Enemy attack in process northwards to rd HEROUVILLETTE - LE MESNIL. Enemy observed were fired on and withdrew. Lt WADE briefed for raid on BAVENT 1673 with Cdn Bn. Subsequently, party left at 2130 hrs. Lt BAILLIE briefed for raid on VARAVILLE with Cdn Bn and left at 2130 hrs.
10th June 1944
Place: Le Mesnil de Bavent 140728
0530 - Lt WADE reported back from raid. No RE Cas. All boobytraps laid in village and considerable confusion and damage caused.
0600 - Lt BAILLIE reported back unable to reach VARAVILLE. Strong enemy attack towards Brs from BREVILLE AMFREVILLE area.
0830 - Enemy observed on glider LZ 1273 and fighting patrol from 2 Tp sent out. Five enemy definitely killed.
1230 - More shelling and mortar fire on X roads posns. L cpl GILLOT and Spr WHYBROW killed.
1615 - SHERMAN tks in action on LZ, several burnt out when hit by SP A tk gun.
1700 - A few enemy infiltrated into 1 Tp posns at X rd 133726 but were repulsed leaving their arms and amn behind.
1815 - Two coys of 7 Para Bn relieve 1 Tp at their X rds posn and 1 Tp return to res in 3 Bde area.
1900 - Elements of 5 BW from 153 (H) Bde arrive in area.
2030 - Hy mortar and S.A.A. fire EAST of X rds.
2350 - 1 Tp reinforce Cdn posns SOUTH of brickworks 138726.
11th June 1944
Place: Le Mesnil de Bavent 140728
0400 - Hy mortar fire on X rds area.
1400 - 3 Tp relieved by 2 Tp EAST of X rds. 3 Tp in res posns in Bde area. Unsuccessful attacks on BREVILLE by 5 BW.
1430 - Shellfire from VARAVILLE bty.
2030 - Lt LACK briefed for raid on enemy rear behind BREVILLE.
12th June 1944
0001 - Lt LACK and sec move out with pl 9 Para Bn. Party returned at 0300 hrs. No RE cas. Rd successfully cratered at 142748. Enemy half track veh heard to crash into crater.
1630 - Hy mortar and shellfire on 9 Bn and 5 BW posns in area Chateau Ste COME and WOOD 138740-137737. Tracked veh movement heard.
1700 - "C" Coy Cdn Bn and 1 Tp move up to reinforce posns in Ste COME area.
1845 - Warning order recd for rest of sqn to move to reinforce Ste COME posns.
1930 - Sqn less 1 Tp move out.
2000 - Def posns taken up in WOOD SOUTHWEST of rd at 136737 and digging commenced. Hy shelling and mortaring. Spr GILL killed. 1 Tp in thick of fighting. Enemy tks engaged with PIAT and hits obtained. Tks withdrew.
2215 - 12 Para Bn attack BREVILLE after bombardment by 100 guns lasting half an hr. Mortaring and shelling continued on our posns until 0100 hrs. OC in 9 Bn Comd post throughout night.
13th June 1944
0500 - LO from Bde HQ arrives and brings orders for relief of 9 Para Bn, 5 BW and C Coy Cdn Bn by 52 LI.
0700 - Relief commenced. Sqn comes under comd 52 LI and moves to def posn SW of rd and track junc 137736. Fairly quiet during the day. Tps dig in and get some sleep. 3 Bde HQ straffed by three Typhoons by mistake.
1800 - 3 Tp given warning order to lay minefd in Chateau area.
2200 - Mortar fire and some shelling. Our posns bombed by EA.
14th June 1944
0200 - A tk minefd completed. Mk V mines.
1100 - OC attends CRE's O gp. Orders reced for withdrawal of sqn leaving a tp in sp 3 Para Bde. OC and Lt BEAUMONT recce sqn posns in ECARDE area 1175.
1600 - Adv party arrive new location HQ in House 117757.
1800 - Sqn less 1 Tp arrive in new location.
15th June 1944
Day of rest for sqn less 1 Tp. CRE visits Sqn HQ in evening.
16th June 1944
2 Tp engaged on shelters for Div HQ 107737. 3 Tp report culverts in REME area 107747. 1 Tp report Lt BREESE missing on way to 8 Bn HQ.
17th June 1944
1800 - 1 Tp withdrawn from LE MESNIL area.
2230 - 2 Tp to LE MESNIL in sp 5 Para Bde.
18th June 1944
1 and 3 Tps rest.
1800 - 1 and 3 Tps commence work on new shelters for Div HQ at 137726. Capt SMITH Offr IC stores.
2030 - OC visits 2 Tp.
19th June 1944
2 Tp wiring on 7 Bn front. Work ceased on Div HQ shelters. Shelter for CRA at existing Div HQ constructed.
20th June 1944
2 Tp carried out more wiring under some mortar fire. Shelters at 133726 recommenced for 6 AL Bde.
21st June 1944
2 Tp returned to Sqn area and rested following their night work. 3 Tp carried out widening and resurfacing in the LE PLEIN area.
22nd June 1944
2 Tp lay A pers minefd for 1 SS Bde 133763. Cpl GREEN killed. 3 Tp on rd maint and widening from ECARDE 118758 to X rds 121755.
23rd June 1944
2 Tp work on camp structures in Sqn area. 3 Tp rd construction as before assisted by 19 French civilians - paid 9 frs an hr. Water sup recce carried out for HQRE.
24th June 1944
1 Tp take over rd maint from 591 Para Sqn on rd ECARDE - LE PLEIN with French labour. 2 Tp construct bath house in bde rest area. 3 Tp rest day and baths. Main in tp area.
25th / 26th June 1944
1 Tp commence construction of hard core rd on line of track rd junc 134726 - rd track junc 137736 with French labour. 2 Tp continue work in rest area. 3 Tp responsible for collection of stores for construction by Div RE of new shelters in ECARDE for div HQ.
27th June 1944
1 and 3 Tp as previously. 2 Tp proceed to LE MESNIL to construct strong pt in House in fwd Cdn posns 143730.
28th June 1944
Sec 1 Tp assist 2 Tp in works in fwd posns. Construction of elevated platform for 50mm A tk gun in addition to MMG posns and FOO's emplacement. Usual mortar and shell fire. Capt T.R. JUCKES killed. 3 Tp as before.
29th June 1944
Works continued as yesterday. 2 Tp complete their work and return to ECARDE.
30th June 1944
1 Tp continue work on rd and platform for A tk gun. 2 Tp resting. 3 Tp construct comd posts for 8 and 9 Para Bns in LE MESNIL area. Some shelling and mortaring. Helped inf in wiring. Lt HOLLOWAY carried out recce for water sup in Div area for CRE.
Strength of Squadron embarked for FRANCE by air and sea
Casualties during month
Wounded and evacuated
Wounded and remaining on duty
Strength of Sqn at 30 Jun 44
ORs (incl ACC and RASC att)
Lt. R.R. BEAUMONT posted to 591 Para Sqn in rank Capt
Lt. J.S.R. SHAVE promoted A/Capt as tp comd No.2 Tp 29 June.
Month and year : July 1944
Commanding Officer : Major J.C.A. Roseveare
1st July 1944
1100 - Work on platform for A tk gun abandoned. Posn was wrecked by 75 mm SP gun firing solid shot after some mortar fire. 1 Tp on rd work as previously. 2 Tp on camp maint and construction of comd post for sqn HQ. 3 Tp in sp 3 Bde at LE MESNIL. Construction of 8 Bn RAP. Laying boobytraps wiring and A tk mines. Lt HOLLOWAY made extensive recce for rd routes in area.
2nd July 1944
Works as yesterday. Lt HOLLOWAY makes report on DIVES valley to CRE.
3rd July 1944
Works as yesterday.
4th July 1944
Works as yesterday. 2 Tp complete comd post. 3 Tp relieved by 591 Para Sqn and return to HQ.
5th July 1944
1 Tp continue rd construction. 2 Tp maintenance and laying of sommerfield track on rd circuits in div rest area. 3 Tp rest.
6th July 1944
Works as yesterday. 3 Tp commence shelter for CREME. Rd maint handed over to 249 Fd Coy.
1800 - Non parachute rfts arrive in sqn area. Lt MITCHELL and 23 ORs from 31 RHU.
7th July 1944
1 Tp trg in enemy eqpt. Battle order parade. 2 and 3 Tps on works as yesterday. Div RE visited by CE 1 Corps. 2 and 3 Tps visited on works. Sqn HQ visited for refreshments after which 1 Tp were inspected.
8th July 1944
1 Tp collect stores for construction of sqn office. 2 Tp as yesterday. 3 Tp trg day with enemy eqpt.
9th July 1944
1 Tp construct sqn office. 2 Tp trg day enemy eqpt. 3 Tp rest day and baths.
1200 - Sqn church parade conducted by Rev Gwynnett.
10th to 14th July 1944
Sqn trg period. Trg by tps carried out including A tk gun rafts and watermanship on R. ORNE. Minelaying and lifting with enemy mines. Route marches & PT.
12th July 1944
1 Tp cleared suspected mined area nr OUISTREHAM for Hy AA Regt.
13th July 1944
Recce of A pers minefd in SALLENELLES area by I.O.
14th July 1944
Recce for type B water pt at 125746 by OC.
15th July 1944
Sqn employed on strengthening of 6 A/L Bde shelters.
16th July 1944
Works as for yesterday.
1200 - Sqn church parade. Rev Gwynnett.
17th July 1944
1 Tp complete work on 6 A/L Bde shelters. 2 Tp collect stores and 3 Tp construct 4 shelters for RAMC on Corps Route through div area.
18th July 1944
1 Tp rest day. 2 and 3 tps complete work.
2315 - Hy air raid by EA dropping SDIO A pers bombs. Eight fell in sqn area. 3 were UXB but three cas were caused. All evacuated.
19th July 1944
Gen strengthening of individual shelters in sqn area. Recce and disposal of various UXB in div area.
20th July 1944
Whole sqn deployed on construction of new HQ for 3 Para Bde in area 134716. 1 Tp on collection of stores and construction of entry rd. 2 and 3 Tps on shelters.
21st July 1944
Hy rain and flooding on site. One shelter abandoned. HQ Tp pump out flooded FDS at ECARDE.
22nd to 23rd July 1944
Works continue as for 20th. Shelters constructed, 3 @ 16 x 6 for Bde Comd, Comd Post and Sigs. 1 @ 10 x 6 for A/Q, 1 @ 8 x 6 for RA and 1 12 x 8 for RAP.
24th to 25th July 1944
1 and 2 Tps complete Bde shelters. 3 Tp commence entrance rd and drains for div water pt at AMFREVILLE.
26th July 1944
Gen MONTGOMERY visited Div and presented medal ribbons. OC received DSO. Late Capt JUCKES MC.
26th to 27th July 1944
All tps working on rd and drainage for water pt.
28th July 1944
Work as yesterday. 3 Tp day off and baths.
29th July 1944
1 Tp rest day and baths. 2 tp complete entrances track and hardstandings for water pt. 7 sec det in sp 9 Para Bn lifting mines in fwd pl posns. Cpl ROWBOTHAM killed by shellfire.
30th July 1944
1 Tp commence grillage for water towers. 2 Tp and 3 Tp camp structures in sqn area.
31st July 1944
As for 30 July. Lt BAILLIE posted to 591 Sqn RE in rank of Capt. wef 8 July 1944.
Casualties during month,
Wounded and evacuated
Wounded remaining on duty
Strength of sqn at 30 Jul 44
ORs (incl ACC and RASC att)
Month and year : August 1944
Commanding Officer : Major J.C.A. Roseveare
1st August 1944
1 Tp complete grillage for water tks and commence erection of tubular scaffold towers. 2 Tp maint in sqn area. Level site for GOCs caravan. 3 Tp commence collection of stores for new 3 Bde HQ to be constructed at 137697.
2nd to 4th August 1944
Tps engaged on Bde shelters. 7 shelters completed. Frames prefabricated in sqn area. ¼" plate from COLLOMBELLES used for roofing.
5th August 1944
1 Tp on water pt. 2 Tp collect stores and make recce for baths at bde rest area in HERMANVILLE. 3 Tp maint in sqn area.
6th August 1944
1 Tp on water pt. 2 and 3 Tp rest day.
7th to 8th August 1944
1 and 3 Tp on water pt. Piping commenced. 2 Tp on Bde Rest Camp.
9th August 1944
Works same as yesterday. Possibility of enemy withdrawal necessitated RE sp for fwd bdes. 1 Tp in sp 3 Para Bde and moved to area 131701 in evening. 3 Tp in sp 1 SS Bde moved to area 133723 same time.
10th August 1944
1 Tp dig in news posn. assist 8 Para Bn in construction of comd post. 2 Tp continue with erection of water tks. 3 Tp dig in new posn.
11th August 1944
1 Tp instruct 8 Bn in enemy mines. NCO out with Cdn patrol. 2 and 3 Tp continue work at water pt.
12th August 1944
Works as before. 1 Tp commence collection of stores for bde RAP dug by inf.
13th August 1944
Works as before. 2 Tp have rest day.
14th August 1944
Works as before. Two NCOs out from 1 Tp with 9 Bn patrols. Mouse holing of buildings and clearance of fds of fire in Cdn Bn area.
15th August 1944
Water Pt completed. 3 Tp return to ECARDE remaining in sp 1 SS Bde for any move fwd. 2 Tp commence rd maint ESCOVILLE - TOUFREVILLE. 1 Tp remain in sp 3 Bde.
16th August 1944
As for 15th. 3 Tp days rest and move out to 1 SS Bde area 2200 hrs.
17th August 1944
Commencement of adv through BOIS de BAVENT and BOIS de BURES. 3 Tp move in sp 1 SS Bde. 1 Tp in sp 3 Para Bde mine clearance parties with Cdn and 8 Para Bns. 2 Tp build A Tk gun raft br at the site of demolished track br over R DIVES at BURES 173698. 1 Tp construct improvised br over R. MUANCE and form ramp up onto Rly embankment to pass Jeep tpt to BASSENVILLE. Chesspale rd way made over water logged fds. One sec 1 Tp remaining with leading coy of 8 Para Bn. Main Sqn HQ moved to orchard 147695. HQ and 2 Tp engaged on rd and verge clearance and traffic circuit marking in BURES - TROARN. OC carried out recce of corps route over TROARN brs. OC attends Bde Comds conference at 9 Para Bn HQ at FM 184689 and afterwards visits 8 Para Bn comd post at GOUSTRANVILLE. Strong enemy resistance here.
18th August 1944
OC and CRE recce ROBEHOMME and Ste CLAIR brs and return via cl 9 br at TROARN. 1 Tp remain on route maint over DIVES and MUANCE in BURES area.
1200 - 3 Tp return from 1 SS Bde. 2 Tp rd maint.
1500 - Sqn moved to Fm 193691. 3 Tp commence water pt near br at 177680.
1600 - OC meets CRE and G1 at 3 Para Bde HQ re crossing DIVES canal at GOUSTRANVILLE. FBE br coln and 2 and 3 Tp laid on to RV on main rd after dark. Recce parties from 2 and 3 Tp detailed to cover river on 8 Para and 1 Cdn Para Bns front.
2200 - OC meets CRE at Tac Bde HQ. RV for Recce reports at 8 Para Bn HQ. L.Sgt IRELAND returned from Lieut FORSTER'S recce party with prisoners. Lt FORSTER reports small brick arch br suitable cl 9 Traffic intact at 236716. Lt MARSH reports all brs blown in his sector. Bde reports no possibility of bridging river and orders issued to 2 and 3 Tp and br coln to withdraw. Sec 1 Tp with 8 Bn returned to Sqn.
19th August 1944
Sqn HQ remains same location. 1 Tp take over constr of water pt at TROARN. Sqn prepares scheme to pass 1 SS Bde over Canal onto high ground NORTH of DOZULE 3 Tp warned for job. Improvised recce boat br designed and tread ways made by Fd Park. 2 Tp rd and track maint to crossing at CANADA br. lay Sommerfield track. Some mortar & shell fire.
19th / 20th August 1944
1 SS Bde successfully passed over CANAL on recce boat br by 3 Tp near demolished rly br 233726.
20th August 1944
0330 - 3 Tp return to Sqn HQ. 1 Tp on water pt. 2 Tp rd and track maint.
21st August 1944
0200 - OC issues orders for move fwd to DOZULE area.
0800 - 2 Tp moves fwd and clears route into DOZULE. 270mm shells removed from x rds. 1 Tp move up and contact 8 Para Bn leading adv through DOZULE. Town shelled and burning. Armd Bulldozer clears rd and 2 Tp assist local fire bde to fight fires. 3 Tp on route maint in area of crossings over canal. Sqn HQ moved to [?] and Fm DOZULE. HQ 2 and 3 Tps billeted comfortably for night. 8 Bn capture ANNEBAULT and 1 Tp bivouac in area 3 Bde HQ.
22nd August 1944
5 Para Bde pass through 3 Para Bde.
0800 - 1 Tp carry out engr recce ANNEBAULT area. 2 and 3 Tp route maint and establish Stellar Water Ter on stream for direct pumping to water tank vehs.
1400 - 5 Para Bde attempt assault crossing of R. TOUQUES in and SOUTH of PONT L'EVEQUE. 3 Tp move fwd into town with Armd Bulldozer in attempt to fill gaps and pass Cromwell tks of Armd Recce Regt over river. Fires burning and mortar and shell fire. Second gap reached but further work impossible due to flames and enemy fire. OC recced River NORTH of town for crossing and was observed and mortared. Suitable FBE site found at Chateau. 1 and 3 Tps withdrawn to DOZULE and Bulldozer left with one sec at fwd RV.
2030 - 2 Tp and FBE br coln move to fwd RV with view to building br if sit permits. In harbour all night.
23rd August 1944
0900 - Lt INMAN recces PONT L'EVEQUE for possibility of continuing work on gaps for tk crossing.
0930 - CRE and 2IC also recce area. Much shelling and mortaring and spreading fires in town. Decision taken to cancel further RE work in town. Lt FORSTER attempted recce NORTH of town but found area under observed fire. All Tps withdrawn and rest during day.
1230 - OC contacts 5 Para Bde and 4 SS Bde and recces river line SOUTH of PONT L'EVEQUE for crossing for SS Bde with CO Marine Commando.
2330 - 1 Tp move off with Assault boat br to PIERREFITTE in order to build br for Jeep tpt of 4 SS Bde attack over river.
24th August 1944
0300 - 4 SS Bde op cancelled 1 and 2 Tps withdrawn and br colns returned to Fd Park adv br det.
0900 - 2 and 3 Tp bathed at Mobile Bath Unit in DOZULÉ.
1000 - Orders received for construction of crossing NORTH of PONT L'EVEQUE. Enemy having withdrawn during night. 1 Tp recce party moves out and main party collects br coln on move up to town.
1100 - 3 Tp move fwd with assault boat rafts to construct Jeep class br near FBE site.
1200 - 2 Tp move fwd to RV in res. Lt WADE recces route on far bank into PONT L'EVEQUE over fds.
1600 - Route open with two brs one for Cl 9 Tpt and light br for Jeep Tpt. 350 vehs an hour taken over both brs. OC recces route in PONT L'EVEQUE for further adv.
1800 - Sqn Tac HQ at chateau by FBE br. 2 Tp fwd in sp 5 Para Bde clear track for Jeeps through debris of blown rly/rd br. Tp bivouacs in fwd area. Lt bulldozer clears route in Town. 3 Tp lay Sommerfield Track and maint exit routes from crossings all night.
25th August 1944
1 and 3 Tp on br and route maint in vicinity of crossings. 2 Tp replaced by a tp of 591 Para Sqn. OC carries out recce of area TOUQUES - TROUVILLE and establishes sqn HQ in chateau 5 km NORTH of PONT L'EVEQUE. Sqn in sp 6 Airldg Bde for adv along coast. 2 Tp moves fwd with lt bulldozer and fills crater near TOURVILLE. OC recces river crossings in area of 12 Devon and Oxf and Bucks bns fwd of La RIVIERE Ste SAUVEUR. 2 Tp move to CONTEVILLE.
26th August 1944
1 Tp move to Sqn location. 2 Tp only actively employed filling rd craters.
27th August 1944
As for 26 Aug.
28th August 1944
"Stand easy" received. Sqn less No 2 Tp move to Chateau d'ABLON. No 2 Tp move to La RIVIERE Ste SAUVEUR.
29th to 31st August 1944
Sqn rest and clean up and sort Stores & eqpt.
Month and year : September 1944
Commanding Officer : Major J.C.A. Roseveare
1st September 1944
Prepare for move back to UK. Loading tlrs.
2nd September 1944
Disposal of eqpt and stores.
4th September 1944
Move in MT to transit camp ARROMANCHES.
5th September 1944
Embarkation postponed due to bad weather.
6th September 1944
1000 - Embarked unit on "EMPIRE GAUNTLET". All ranks receive royal attention from Merchant Navy crew and eat many huge meals.
7th September 1944
1000 - Disembark SOUTHAMPTON to the strains of Regtl band in a drizzle. Entrain for BULFORD and BEACON bks arriving 1500 hrs.
8th to 10th September 1944
Gen Adm kit issues stores checks.
11th September 1944
Sqn proceeds on leave for 14 days.
3 Para Sqn RE
Outline Plan and Summary of Events
1. 3 Para Sqn were under comd 3 Para Bde for the op with the task of assisting the bde to carry out their initial tasks and subsequently were to revert to comd CRE.
2. Sqn tasks were as follows:-
(i) Destruction of brs by H+2 hrs at
5 span masonry arch
girder (rly br)
masonry single span
(ii) Mining of rds at:- 140702, 141728
(iii) Route Recce in area
RANVILLE BREVILLE Rd Jun 140702
ESCOVILLE HEROUVILLETTE LE MARIQUET
(iv) Recce for RE stores in Jettison drops.
3. OUTLINE PLAN. D-Day 6 Jun 44. P-hour 0520 hrs. H-hour 0715hrs. 3 Para Bde gp were dropping on two DZs:-
DZ V Area 1775 - Bde Gp less 8 Bn Gp.
DZ K Area 1269 - 8 Para Bn Gp.
Sqn less No.3 Tp and det Sqn HQ were to drop with 8 Para Bn on DZ K at P-4 hrs 30 min with task of destroying brs at TROARN and BURES. No.1 Tp was to destroy TROARN br covered by a coy of 8 Para Bn in Ste SAMSON and a coy in TROARN and No.2 Tp was to destroy brs at BURES covered by a pl of 8 Para Bn. No.3 Tp and a det of Sqn HQ were to drop under comd 1 Cdn Para Bn on DZ V at P-4 hrs 26 mins with the task of destroying the brs at ROBEHOMME and VARAVILLE. One Coy of 1 Cdn Bn were to deal with enemy in VARAVILLE area and the ROBEHOMME brs were to be covered by one pl. Two gliders were allotted to the sqn on DZ K and one glider on DZ V for the carriage of additional explosive and engr eqpt. The two gliders on DZ K carried the necessary stores for attacking the piers of the TROARN br.
4. The AIR PLAN - 8 Bn Gp
Take off and flight to the coast were uneventful. It was remarkable at the airfd that there were less signs of nervous strain than before many exs. Everyone was eager to get on with the task and no one had any thoughts of being dropped in the wrong place. Hot tea was served from Thermos flasks during the flight and no one was troubled by air-sickness. Sqn less 3 Tp and two gliders took off from BLAKEHILL FARM and 3 Tp and one glider took off from DOWN AMPNEY. There was some last minute confusion at the latter airfield as one a/c went u/s and had to be replaced at the last moment. During the flight there was no sign of any of our own A/C or EA and it was noticeable that the promised beating up of the flak on the coast did NOT take place. On crossing the coast some fairly close flak came up. On DZ K the first six A/C in were to be 3 Sqn (Nos 224 to 229) followed by mortar and MMG pls of 8 Bn followed by Rifle Coys.
5. On bailing out at 0050 hrs there was flak and SA fire on DZ. As far as can be ascertained all six A/C dropped reasonably near the Indep Para Coy lights which were located at 124737. From cross-examination of stick comds I think all six A/C commenced to drop within grid square 1273. The sticks were fairly long in some cases due to men falling over due to the violent evasive action taken by some pilots. My A/C 224 was steady and applied flap before dropping. Directing of run-in appeared to be NE - SW to NNE - SSW. Just before the green a glider was released just above my A/C. On landing I suspected we were in the wrong posn as I could see no high ground to the EAST and STIRLING A/C were running in from all directions dropping paratps. Several gliders landed close by - they were not RE ones. My stick comd Lieut LACK and the SSM set about collecting the stick at the containers which were well conc and illuminated by the THOMAS devices which worked well. Paratps dropping around appeared to belong to every para bn in the div. I contacted Capt TAIT of the Indep Para Coy who said he had been dropped in the wrong place and this was DZ "K". I found this hard to believe. We rallied as many 8 Bn and 3 Sqn men as possible and kept them moving down to a track junc 123734. There I contacted Capt JUCKES and we re-organised. Considerable signs of battle were coming from the SW and it was obvious that the later Nos in the sticks must have struck trouble in the area RANVILLE - LE MARIQUET. Our posn was confirmed by a signpost at the X-rds at 121732.
6. On taking stock we appeared to have a recce boat, a Mk II Camouflet set, 4/500 lb of plastic explosive and 45 gen wade charges besides an adequate number of accessories, beehives etc, and the HQ link 68 set and one 18 set. We only had 6 trolleys however, sufficient anyway to carry out some form of demolition on our 3 brs. The following offrs were present - OC., Capt JUCKES, Lieuts SHAVE, FORSTER, BREESE, WADE and LACK. No 8 Bn offrs were apparent but some 20/30 ORs chiefly from the mortar and MMG pls. About 60 sprs and NCOs were present.
7. I then endeavoured to org the party for the approach march. In the absence of any 8 Bn offrs it proved rather difficult to persuade the 8 Bn ORs to take the lead even under Spr offrs so eventually the point sec consisted of Capt JUCKES, myself and few stout-hearted sprs who were not hauling the trolleys. As we moved off to the accompaniment of Mortar and MMG fire, and jeep and trailer with Med stores joined the party. The time was about 0230 hrs. approx. The route followed was HEROUVILLETTE - ESCOVILLE - Rd Junc 140703. The march which was fortunately unopposed was a feat of endurance by the Sprs hauling the heavily laden trolleys. Many were limping with DZ injuries but they all pulled their weight on the trying gradient up to the Rd. junc.
8. On reaching the road junc at about 0400 hrs two 8 Bn Offrs materialized, one was the Mortar Offr. I ordered them to take up a def posn with all the 8 Bn personnel and hold the area of the rd junc. We then redistributed the stores amongst the tpt available. All the med stores were unloaded in the timber yard, and all Gen Wade charges were loaded on the jeep and Tlr. All plastic explosive and the camouflet set were loaded on the trolleys and I ordered Capt JUCKES to proceed at once with the main body of the Sprs to attack his brs at BURES and I took LT BREESE and 7 NCO's and sprs with me in the Jeep and Tlr to attack the TROARN Br.
9. TROARN BR.
We set off down the road at a moderate pace with everyone ready with a Bren and several Stens for any trouble. Just before the level crossing we ran slap into a barbed wire knife rest rd block. One Bosche fired a shot and then went off. It took 20 minutes hard work with wire cutters before the jeep was freed. We then proceeded on, leaving behind it transpired later Spr. MOON; Two scouts were sent ahead to the cross rd 160676. As they arrived a bosche soldier cycled across complete with rifle. On being dragged from his bicycle he protested volubly and we made the mistake of silencing him with a Sten instead of a knife. The town was now getting roused so we lost no time and everyone jumped aboard while I tried to make the best speed possible, as the total load was about 3000 lbs we only made about 35 m.p.h. At the corner 163678 - here the fun started as there seemed to be a bosche in every door way shooting like mad. However, the boys got to work with their Stens and Spr. PEACHEY did good work as rear gunner with the Bren. What saved the day was the steep hill down the Main Street as the speed rose rapidly and we careered from side to side of the road as the heavy tlr was swinging violently. We were chased out of the town by an M.G. 34 which fired tracer just over our heads. On arrival at the br which was not held, we found Spr. PEACHEY and his Bren were missing. 39 Gen. Wade charges were immediately placed across the centre span, a cordtex lead connected up, and the charged fired. The demolition was completely successful - the whole centre span being demolished giving a gap of 15 to 20 feet. The time taken was about 5 minutes. I decided TROARN would not be a healthy spot to return to so we drove the Jeep up a track due NORTH towards BURES as far as possible and then ditched it. Lieut BREESE made a recce of BURES which led him to believe it was occupied. It was now about 0500 hrs. The party therefore swam several streams SOUTH of BURES and took to the woods. A good deal of M.G. 42 fire from the direction of the rd junc 140703 made me alter my plan and I decided to make for LE MESNIL which was reached at 1300 hrs.
10. BURES BRS.
Capt JUCKES led his party through the BOIS DE BURES and reached the brs unopposed at about 0630 hrs. Work was immediately commenced on the demolition of the brs. Lt. SHAVE and one sec worked on the track br and the remaining 2 Tp. Sprs amounting to about 1½ Secs with Lt. FORSTER on the Rly. Br. Local protection was provided by Sprs of No.1 Tp. While this was proceeding, the main body of the 8 Bn were arriving in the area of the track junc. 152699 being less than 100 strong but having been dropped on the correct DZ. They had with them the two Jeeps and trls loaded with explosive and the small RE party which had landed in the correct place and at the correct time in their two gliders. Lt. WADE was sent back from the brs to find Lieut. LACK and his trolley which had fallen behind owing to the infirmities of the Sprs pushing it. On the way he contacted a Jeep and tlr. which was on its way to the BURES brs. Information had reached the C.O. 8 Bn than 2 Tp were working there and he despatched this Jeep and Tlr to them. Lt. WADE then attempted to reach the TROARN br with the Jeep and Tlr. on his own. On nearing the town however, FRENCH locals warned him that the Germans were on the alert and that there was no possibility of him getting through alone. Lt. WADE therefore returned to the BURES brs. with the Jeep and tlr. and then proceeded to Recce the Troarn br on foot. On the way he found the ditched jeep used by OC and party and found the br. demolished. Finding no sign of life, he then returned to BURES. Both brs were blown by 0930 hrs and a steel punt was also sunk. The tps were all pretty tired by now and Capt. JUCKES decided to have breakfast before moving off. He himself reported back to 8 Bn in the Jeep and the CO visited the br sites. An attempt was made to unload a jeep and 6-pdr. gun which were in a crashed glider 100x from the Rly. Br. in the river. The CO put a time limit on these efforts and the tps withdrew to the 8 Bn Area by 1215 hrs. The CO 8 Bn then decided it would be a good idea to attack the TROARN Br again but would only release a Pl for the purpose. The party formed up in the following order of march under comd of Capt. JUCKES:-
One Pl 8 Para Bn comd by Lieut. C. BROWN
Protective det RE under Sgt SHRUBSOLE.
Jeep and tlr with 40 Gen. Wades and Lieut. Wade & 6 Sprs.
Rearguard det. RE under Lieut. SHAVE.
Route taken was EAST to BURES and then down rd SOUTH towards TROARN. A firm base was established at rd. track crossing 166683 with the working party and Lt. SHAVE'S party. At about this pt some sniping had commenced and alarmist reports were received from the FRENCH of the action the Germans would take to cut off the party. However, it was decided to proceed and the Pl of 8 Bn. pushed on into the Town and proceeded to drive the enemy up the street in a WESTERLY direction. The reargd was then brought in to the ORCHARD immediately NORTH of the houses. Sgt. SHRUBSOLE'S party were then pushed into the Town and worked their way down the hill towards the brs. They came under fire and a small battle ensued in which one German was killed and five surrendered. The way was now clear to the br and the working party on the jeep proceeded straight down to the br and laid their charges across the next span to that already destroyed and successfully demolished it. The total gap was now about 35/40 feet as the pier was almost completely demolished by the second explosion. The sluice was not attacked as it did not afford a passage to vehs. Some boats and punts were sunk. The party then withdrew in good order through TROARN by the route they came. The Inf. Pl. was withdrawn through Lt. SHAVE'S rear guard and the return march was completely successful. The br was blown at about 1500 hrs and the party were back at 8 Bn. by 1630 hrs.
11. STRAGGLER PARTIES.
Tps jumping towards the ends of sticks and who landed in the RANVILLE area became closely engaged with the enemy at once. There was considerable firing and confusion and there are many reports of Sprs being captured and subsequently escaping. Individual reports all show that extremely offensive action was taken against the German in all cases. The late Sgt. JONES killed eight of his captors with their own weapons. Spr. THOMAS although wounded (He was shot during his descent) killed 3 Germans with two 36 Grenades. SQMS BROWN, although injured on the drop killed a large number of Germans with his Sten. A small party of 5 sprs. with Sgt. DOCHERTY and Lieut. BEAUMONT moved off with Major HEWETSON of the 8 Bn. and about 20 Inf. towards HEROUVILLETTE where they met Captain FOX and 8 Sprs with one trolley of explosive. The combined party was heavily engaged by M.G. fire in the town and only escaped by climbing several walls and leaving the trolley. The Inf. suffered about 10 casualties here. The RE suffered 2 cas. The party made their way x-country to the rd. junc 140703. An enemy armd C. and tk were engaged SOUTH of this pt and contact was made with 8 Bn at about 1400 hrs. Other individuals and small parties made their way to either Rd junc 140703 or X-rds 140728 in accordance with the pre-briefed plan. Captain A.J. JACK was captured immediately on landing in the Anti-paratp Kommando HQ escaped in the early morning and arrived at LE MESNIL at 0900 hrs. The only offr. missing was Lieut. E.V. KNOX who was known to have been shot during his descent but who was alive on landing. No trace has been discovered of this offr since.
Immediate steps were taken at Bde HQ at LE MESNIL by the Bde Staff and the RE present to locate A.Tk. mines for the blocking of the rd. junc 140703. The jettison drop appeared to be scattered over a wide area and a large number of containers were in enemy occupied territory. Some Mk.V. mines began to arrive early evening time and at 2200 hrs. minelaying was commenced by 2 Tp with about 80 Mk. V. A.Tk. mines. The fd. was completed by about 2359 hrs and No.2 Tp then returned to Sqn. HQ at LE MESNIL at 0200 hrs D+1.
13. Dets. of HQ and 1 Tp not involved in the minelaying moved out of the 8 Bn. Area to Sqn. HQ arriving about 1600 hrs D.Day.
During D+1 day further supplies of Mk. V. A.Tk. mines were made available from Div. and a minefield was laid in LE MESNIL during the night by HQ personnel of the Sqn. under Lt. WILLIAMS and Sjt. SHRUBSOLE. About 100 mines were laid in a road and across a field under S.A. fire. No cas. were sustained.
3 TP. ACTIVITIES
15. There a/c with paratps and one glider with Jeep and tlr were involved. The dropping again was extremely inaccurate, the majority being dropped about 1 km EAST of the DZ in flooded areas and outside the village of VARAVILLE. One a/c took such violent evasive action that the paratps all fell down in the a/c and the stick stretched from VARAVILLE to ROBEHOMME, the last man out Lt. WILLIAMS landed on top of the hill SOUTH of the church at ROBEHOMME - surely a record length of stick about 3 km. As the whole area was flooded and intersected with ditches, it was impossible for sticks to RV at their containers. The THOMAS lighting devices worked well and indicated the posn of the containers submerged 2 to 3 ft.
16. Lieut. INMAN collected 12 sprs and 3 containers of explosive and after much hard work in crossing numerous ditches reached VARAVILLE where he found Lt. BAILLIE who was alone. 5 sprs and 200 lbs of explosive and accessories were left with Lt. BAILLIE who proceeded to destroy the br. successfully making a gap of 15 ft. This was completed at 0440 hrs.
17. Lt. INMAN having handed over the explosive left at once for ROBEHOMME with 7 Sprs and one trolley. In VARAVILLE at 181757 he contacted Capt. SMITH and Lieut. HOLLOWAY and 3 Sprs. Capt SMITH went back to the br. at VARAVILLE, and the remainder (2 offrs and 10 OR's) proceeded through PETIVILLE where infm was obtained that BAVENT was held. The party therefore took the flooded fds and after 1 km. left the trolley and carried the explosive on their backs. At 0900 hrs, ROBEHOMME was reached and Sgt. POOLE contacted. It was then learned that Sgt. POOLE who had dropped nearby had destroyed the br with 30 lbs of explosive collected from Cdn. Inf. The party proceeded to the br and blew two craters on the home side at 1100 hrs. The covering Cdn. Inf. party patrolled the river bank and left one Bren Gp for protection of the working party. They were not present when the main attack came in the form of some enemy lorry-borne inf. before the job was complete. The demolition was successful but the working party were pinned by fire. By use of their own Bren Guns however, the party were able to withdraw to ROBEHOMME at 1300 hrs.
18. L/Cpl. HILL reported that glider with Jeep and trailer were in 3 ft. of water at 178724 near BRICQUEVILLE. Attempts to recover equipment that day were frustrated by enemy fire from BAVENT direction.
Strength of tps at ROBEHOMME now about 120. Det of 32 from 12 Bn. attempted to move through BAVENT and were captured. Minor enemy attacks were beaten off.
19. Tps now org as 3 pls mixed inf and Sprs under Capt GRIFFIN (1 Cdn Para Bn). 2 Pl attack on BAVENT unsuccessful. Lt. HOLLOWAY comd mixed pl containing inf and 21 sprs. Recces of routes NORTH and SOUTH of BAVENT carried out during day. L/Cpl. HILL and party despatched at 1300 hrs to recover equipment from glider. Returned successfully at 2000 hrs with all equipment except m/c's and camouflet tubes. 1600 hrs. L/Sgt. WREN and 7 Sprs blew two craters at rd junc 193736 LE HAIN being unable to find correct site of culvert at 198743 owing to floods. Rd blocks of Mk. V mines were laid at 182727 and 184727 to render feature tank proof. At 2000 hrs Cdn. Recce patrol returned having contacted Bde HQ at LE MESNIL and brought orders for party to return by night. Rd blocks were lifted and Cdn. Pl proceeded to silence MG post at 168724 at 2300 hrs. Main body 162 all ranks moved off at 2330 hrs. Arrived LE MESNIL 0330 hrs D+2.
20. Capt. SMITH, Lt. BAILLIE and party after completion of the demolition of VARAVILLE br returned to LE MESNIL at 0900 hrs D. Day.
21. Lt. WILLIAMS who was dropping with a small HQ party with the primary task of locating the jettison drop A. Tk. mines landed on top of the hill at ROBEHOMME and contacted two Sprs and proceeded to make for LE MESNIL via PONT DE LA DIVETTE. BAVENT being held he struck SOUTH and picked up a number of 8 Para, 13 Para and 1 Cdn Bn tps in the area of STE LAURENT FE. Lt. CROXFORD was in comd of the Cdns who formed the majority of the party. The party struck WEST through the BOIS DE BAVENT but on nearing the main rd running SOUTH from LE MESNIL enemy armd vehs were encountered. The Cdn. offr was no longer to be seen so Lt. WILLIAMS took comd of the party and they made their way NORTH to LE MESNIL. Major NICKLIN 2 i/c. 1 Cdn. Para Bn. was contacted with a few more Cdns near LE MESNIL which was reached about 0900 hrs.
22. The majority of the rds to be recced had already been covered by various members of the Sqn during their wanderings on D. Day. However, at 1600 hrs. Lt. MARSH was sent off on FC to carry out the recce tasks as laid down in the O.O. and he reported back some 4 hours later. The circuits could not be completely covered as some of the route was still in Enemy hands and Lt MARSH was frequently fired on.
23. All initial and secondary tasks were carried out and in the words of our late lamented Adjt, one could fairly say - 3RD SQN DOES IT AGAIN!
(sgd) J.C.A. ROSEVEARE, Major, R.E.