National Archives catalogue number ADM 202/108.

 

Abbreviation

1176

222230

Arty

Att

A/Ty

BLA

Cdo

CO

Comd

Comn

Coy

Det

Dis

Est

FDL

FOO

Fwd

Gp

HE

HW

IA

Incl

IO

Junc

LMG

Lt

M
MFC

MG

MMG

MO

MT

OC

OR

Posn

Pt

PW

RA

RAMC

RAP

Regt

RM

SB

Sec

SP

Sq

SS

Tac
Tp

Map Reference

22nd July, 22:30 hrs

Artillery

Attached

Acting/Temporary

British Liberation Army

Commando

Commanding Officer

Command

Communication

Company

Detach

Disabled

Establish

Forward Defended Locality

Forward Observation Officer

Forward

Group

High Explosive

Heavy Weapons

Inter-Allied

Including

Intelligence Officer

Junction

Light Machine Gun

Light

Mortar

Mortar Fire Control

Machine Gun

Medium Machine Gun

Medical Officer

Motor Transport

Officer Commanding

Other Ranks

Position

Point

Prisoner of War

Royal Artillery

Royal Army Medical Corps
Regimental Aid Post

Regiment

Royal Marine

Stretcher-Bearer

Section

Start Point

Square

Special Service

Tactical

Troop

 

Month and year : July 1944

Commanding Officer : Lt Col C.F. Phillips, R.M.

 

1st July 1944

Place: Sallenelles

 

Capt R. Plessis att Cdo from SS Gp.  Assumed duties of IO.

 

3rd July 1944

Place: Sallenelles

 

1830 - Cdo relieved by 46 Cdo.  Moved to reserve area West of HAUGER.

 

7th July 1944

Place: Hauger

 

Cdo mounted guards on bridges over R. ORNE and CANAL DE CAEN A LA MER sq 1176.

 

11th July 1944

Place: Hauger

 

Cdo relinquished guard on bridges.  Cdo returned to fwd area SOUTH of SALLENELLES.

 

12th July 1944

Place: Sallenelles

 

Lt E.F. Gower RA joined Cdo and assumed duties as IO vice Capt PLESSIS.  Capt PLESSIS' attachment ceased and he returned to Tac HQ SS Gp.

 

15th July 1944

Place: Sallenelles

 

Lt Col C.F. Phillips det on duty.  Maj P.M. Donnell assumed comd.

 

19th July 1944

Place: Sallenelles

 

Lt Col C.F. Phillips from det on duty.  Resumed command.

 

23rd July 1944

Place: Sallenelles

 

0445 - Fighting Patrol of Cdo raided enemy FDLs.  1 PW taken and 3 deserters.  vide Appx C att.  Cdo relieved by 46 Cdo.  Moved to reserve area West of HAUGER.  Took over guard on bridges over R. ORNE and CANAL DE CAEN A LA MER.

 

28th July 1944

Place: Hauger

 

0700 - One civilian enemy agents captured by fwd tps.

 

 

Month and year : August 1944

Commanding Officer : Lt Col C.F. Phillips, R.M.

 

1st August 1944

Place: Amfreville

 

Relieved 3 Cdo area AMFREVILLE 1274.

 

6th August 1944

Place: Amfreville

 

Moved from AMFREVILLE by march route to relieve C & D Coys HALLAMSHIRES area SANNERVILLE 1468.  Lt ADAMS and 5 ORs joined Cdo.  Lt ADAMS posted to X Tp.

 

10th August 1944

Place: Sannerville

 

Lt WHENHAM and 33 ORs joined cdo.  Lt WHENHAM posted to Q Tp.

 

11th August 1944

Place: Sannerville

 

Lt BORNE and 1 OR killed on enemy minefield.

 

12th August 1944

Place: Sannerville

 

Cdo B Echelon moved from HAUGER to RANVILLE 1075.

 

16th August 1944

Place: Sannerville

 

Fighting Patrol provided by X Tp sent out to investigate report of general enemy withdrawal.  Capt WOOD and 1 OR wounded by enemy boob trap.  Lt STICKINGS assumed command of A Tp.  1 enemy PW confirmed report of general enemy withdrawal.

 

17th August 1944

Place: Sannerville

 

B Tp followed by X and HW Tps advanced to ST PAIR 1666, thence to bridges on River [?]CES at 175642 and 184649.  6 PW captured.  Both bridges completely destroyed by enemy.  X and HW Tps remained in area LA FOLIE 1765 with one Sec at JAUVILLE 1865.  B Tp withdrawn to former position at SANNERVILLE 1468.  Lt STICKINGS promoted to A/Ty Captain.

 

19th August 1944

Moved at 0500 hrs by march route to area West of GOUSTRANVILLE 2271 with HQ at LE MANOIR 2171.  Lt GOWER (IO) and 3 ORs wounded.

 

20th August 1944

Crossed tributary of River DIVES at 236717 and occupied reverse slope position on right of 46 Cdo, one mile SE of PUTOT EN AUGE 2471.  1 OR killed and 1 OR wounded.

 

20th to 21st August 1944

Night approach march in support of 41 Cdo.  Captured DOZULE 4673 and occupied position South of town.  HQ established Brickworks 2672.  1 PW taken.  1 OR killed, 1 OR wounded.

 

22nd August 1944

Advanced by march route to FONTE DE LA CRESSONRE 5002 SW of PONT L'EVEQUE.

 

25th August 1944

Y Troop disbanded.  Capt Wray to Tac HQ SS Group.  Lt O'Brien posted to X Tp.  Lt Dickie to HQ at IO.  27 ORs to Q Tp, 12 ORs to X Tp, 1 OR to A Tp.  Lt ADAM transferred from X to A Tp.  Cdo moved by MT to area 1 mile SW BEUZEVILLE 6307.

 

25th to 26th August 1944

Night approach march to ST MACLOU 7068.

 

26th August 1944

Liberated TOUTAINVILLE 7310.

 

27th August 1944

2 PW taken.

 

31st August 1944

Moved by MT via PONT AUDEMER 7609 to LE HARIDON 0419 when Cdo debussed.  Crossed River SEINE by infantry assault boats at DUCLAIR 0420.  Advanced by march route to ST PIERRE DE VARANGEVILLE 0822 and from there to BARENTIN 0927.

 

 

Appendix A (July)

Summary of Casualties in 47 (RM) Commando

 

 

 

 

Killed in

Action

Died of

Wounds

Missing

Believed

Killed

Missing

Believed

POW

Wounded

Evacuated

Suck

Posted Away

Unsuitable

A

Offrs

TSMS

Sgts

Cpls

Mnes

1

-

1

-

13

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

3

1

1

5

14

-

-

-

-

1

-

-

1

-

-

B

Offrs

TSMS

Sgts

Cpls

Mnes

-

-

-

-

1

-

-

-

1

-

-

-

-

-

1

-

-

-

-

1

-

-

2

-

16

-

1

1

-

1

-

-

-

-

2

Q

Offrs

TSMS

Sgts

Cpls

Mnes

1

-

-

1

x 8

-

-

-

-

1

-

-

1

-

4

-

-

-

-

-

-

1

-

2

18

-

-

-

-

1

-

-

-

-

1

X

Offrs

TSMS

Sgts

Cpls

Mnes

-

-

-

-

4

1

-

-

-

1

-

-

-

-

1

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

2

2

x 12

-

1

-

-

1

-

-

-

-

1

Y

Offrs

TSMS

Sgts

Cpls

Mnes

-

-

1

-

9

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

2

-

1

2

6

1

-

-

-

2

-

-

1

-

2

HW

Offrs

TSMS

Sgts

Cpls

Mnes

-

-

1

-

2

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

2

8

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

HQ

Offrs

TSMS

Sgts

Cpls

Mnes

-

-

s 1

e 2

2

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

1

-

1

1

2

11

1

-

-

1 e

17

1

-

-

1 e

-

-

-

-

-

-

TOTAL

 

48

4

8

16

118

12

8

Notes:-    x  incl 1 L/Cpl RAMC

                s  incl 1 Sgt 10 IA Cdo

                e  incl 1 Cpl 10 IA Cdo

 

 

Appendix C

 

Subject:- Raid on Enemy FDLs

4 SS Bde                47/417.G

 

Attached is a report of a raid made on enemy FDLs NE of LA GRANDE FERME DU BUISSON on 23 July, by a fighting patrol from 47 (RM) Commando.

 

I would like to draw your attention to the determination, skill and coolness under fire of the patrol commander Lt O'Brien; to the initiative and resourcefulness of Sgt Horsfield who, when Lt Collett became a casualty took charge of his party in a very able and determined manner resulting in the discovery and capture of the officer PW; to the courage of Cpl Ostle who, although seriously wounded, brought back Lt Collett from a minefield to safety.

 

(C.F. Phillips)
Lt Col RM

OC 47 (RM) Cdo

24 Jul 44

BLA
TG

 

 

Patrol Report        47 (RM) Commando

Date:- 23 Jul 44.

Time Out/In:- 0445/0530.

Type:- Fighting Patrol.

Task:- To obtain PW.

Composition:- Lt O'Brien (in command)

                       Lt Collett

                       15 ORs

                       Capt Campbell (attached)

Note:- Two Bren guns were taken, remaining personnel were armed with TSMGs.  Each rank carried 2 x No 36 grenades and 1 x No 77 Grenade.

 

Plan:- To make a "quiet" raid on the enemy FDL between 147766 and 145766 just before first light and, when surprise was lost (as was inevitable), to support the patrol with one Lt Regt RA, four 3" mortars, one sec MMGs, seven Bren groups and four 2" mortar teams.

 

Arty.

The Lt Regt RA was to fire concentrations on three targets, 142767 ("COW"), 149770 ("LION") and 145771 ("TIGER"); to fire for 5 mins at normal rate at call.  Subsequently to fire at call with reference to these targets.

 

3" Mortars.

The four 3" Mortars were to fire HE and smoke on likely enemy approaches and located enemy mortar positions 300-400 yards inside enemy FDLs.  Both the FOO (Lt Regt) and MFC (3" M) were with CO at his command post 143761.

 

MMG

One MMG, area 142761.  Task - to give right flank protection.

One MMG, area 137765.  Task - to give left flank protection.

 

LMG and 2" Mortars.

    The Brens and 2" mortars, under comd of Capt WRAY, were to provide a "firm base" 350-400 yards from enemy FDLs.  He was ordered to place five brens fwd on line of hedge A-B and two back in area C in order to provide depth within the "firm base" and to facilitate the withdrawal of the fwd brens.  The task of the fwd brens was during the attack to neutralise enemy FDLs on right and left of objective and subsequently to cover the withdrawal of the patrol.  At least two Brens were ordered to be sited in the area of bomb craters at D.

    One pair of 2" mortars, area D, under comd of Lt STICKINGS.

    One pair of 2" mortars, area B, under comd of Lt LLOYD.

2" M tasks:

    (a) During attack to put down HE and smoke on enemy side of objective so as to screen patrol.

    (b) During withdrawal to put down HE and smoke on enemy FDLs.

 

Start Pt:-  Hedge junc 143764.

Start Time:-  0445 hrs.

Route fwd:-  Right side of hedge (shown as a stream on 1/25,000 map) running NE from SP.

Signal for withdrawal of patrol (to be fired by patrol comd) RED signal star.

Signal for withdrawal of "firm base" (to be fired by Capt WRAY) GREEN signal star.

 

The ground as far fwd as A-B was secured early the previous day, 22 Jul.

 

The personnel providing the "firm base" were in position by 222230 in order to reduce movement the next morning.

 

RAP was est LA GRANDE FERME DU BUISSON, consisting of one MO, Chaplain, 4 nursing orderlies and 1 Mne.  A relay post, consisting of 1 Sgt and 3 ORs was est about 135764.  It was a 1300 yard carry from the FARM to our lines.  Two SBs were posted about pt A.  There were 8 stretchers at FARM and 2 with relay post.

 

Comns.

At 0445 hrs, comn was est as shown in the diagram.  Line comn with 3" K baseplate posn was dis ten minutes later as a result of enemy mortar fire.

 

What happened.

    At about 0100 hrs, enemy fired lights and single shots from the area which was to be raided by our patrol and Major WALTON went fwd to join sentries at hedge junc 143764 (Pt A).  On approaching Pt A, Major WALTON gave the password; he heard whispering but got no reply.  Thinking that his position had been disclosed to the enemy, he remained lying down looking NE along the hedge.

    About 30 yds away, he saw two figures scramble through the hedgerow and run down the centre of the field towards LA GRANDE FERME.  They were too far away to challenge for fear of disclosing his presence to enemy in their FDLs; the light was not good enough to see whether they were our tps or not.

    These were two enemy deserters who surrendered to the Standing Patrol at the farm.

    About 0315 hrs, these two were brought into Cdo HQ for preliminary interrogation.

    The following information was disclosed:-

    (a) Enemy had mined along hedge between 142765 and 144767 but the track along hedge up which patrol was to move was not mined.  (PW were employed as mine carrying party on the night of their escape).

    (b) Only one single strand of wire 10 yds in front of FDLs.

    (c) Sentries armed with MGs were posted at intervals 30-40 yds along whole enemy front, two on front of objective.

    (d) There were likely to be few enemy in area selected as objective for raid.

    (e) That 11 Coy was being withdrawn that night and that 9 and 10 Coys would be "Standing To" as a result.

    The patrol comd was given this information and patrol passed SP at 0447 hrs.  Patrol moved in file either side of path running down the right of hedgerow and 2-3 yards from it.  Six minutes later, when the patrol was 30-40 yds from enemy FDLs, Lt Collett, who was leading, stepped on a mine and surprise was lost.  The explosion also wounded Sgt Gutteridge.

    Almost immediately, two enemy MGs opened up, one from directly ahead and another slightly right, followed by lights, more MGs (all firing a proportion of tracer) and later the enemy mortared the area of the farm.

    At first the enemy automatic fire was high but this was quickly corrected and fire became low and directed for the most part along hedges.

    All our supporting weapons opened, as soon as the first round was fired, in accordance with the pre-arranged plan.

    At least one more mine went off before enemy FDLs were reached.

    The patrol entered the enemy posn through a gap in the hedge, which runs along the line of enemy FDLs.  One party, under Lt O'Brien, turned right; the second party, now commanded by Sgt HORSEFIELD, (Lt COLLETT having become a casualty) went to the left.

    It was difficult to find the enemy slit trenches and they were mostly found to be empty.  The enemy must have withdrawn from the area as positions from which enemy MG fire had been directed, were now found to be evacuated.

    Three enemy were killed, one so seriously wounded that to have taken him back would have been so difficult that he was left.  One wounded German officer and one OR were captured.  The man escorting the last mentioned PW had to assist in carrying back our own wounded and, not feeling able to cope with both, shot to wound the OR PW and left him.

 

    The RED signal star for withdrawal was then fired and the patrol left the enemy position about Pt E, but not before GREEN signal star had been fired by Capt WRAY as a signal for the "firm base" to withdraw and the five brens on the "firm base" ceased firing.  This GREEN signal star was fired about 1 mins, certainly not more than 3 mins, after the RED signal star.  However the arty and 3" mortars continued to provide cover, especially with the smoke of 3" mortars.

    The patrol moved diagonally across to rejoin the track when Lt O'BRIEN, hearing that there were still wounded forward along the track, returned with Captain CAMPBELL, Sgt HORSEFIELD and Cpl ESTHER, in order to bring them back.

    The Medical Officer and 4 ORs went forward to Pt A where three wounded stretcher cases were picked up and carried back to the farm.  Three other stretcher cases had meantime been brought in.  Six walking wounded, including the German officer, were also treated at the farm.

    Out total casualties were:-

            Seriously wounded            1 Offr

                                                     4 ORs

                           wounded            1 Offr

                                                     6 ORs.

    All the casualties except one were wounded by shrapnel or splinters from mines and mortars.  The one exception belonged to the "firm base", and he was shot by one of our own brens.

    The patrol commander reported that the supporting fire appeared to be very accurate and effective, especially the screening of the withdrawal.  Some of the 2 inch mortar bombs fell dangerously close to the patrol whilst it was on the objective.

    All fire ceased at about 0515 hrs and all our tps were back as far as LA GRANDE FERME by 0530 hrs.

 

    At about 0415 hrs, a solitary figure was seen to pass a bren group sited at 142766, going in the direction of the farm.

    He was too far away to challenge quietly or to intercept and owing to the nearness to zero hour for the raid, he was allowed to proceed unmolested.

    This figure also proved to be an enemy deserter who surrendered to the standing patrol at the farm.

 

Lessons of the Raid.

1.  For the previous eight days, 47 Cdo sent out patrols which were ordered to pin-point enemy positions, sentry posts and weapon slits, to observe their habits and to discover when they were visited, their meal hours and where their MG and mortar defensive fire was put down.  Standing patrols were established without intermission by day 300-400 yds from enemy FDLs and by night listening posts within 50 yds.  The result was a very complete picture of the enemy layout and, equally valuable, a very large proportion of the unit who had operated in this area by night.  Time spent in this recce certainly was not wasted.

 

2.  The raid took place ten minutes too early as the light was not good enough to locate and search enemy weapon slits.  It was a very dark night.

 

3.  The opinion previously held that any light signals in the presence of the enemy are unsatisfactory was confirmed.  The hand signal stars (used instead of Verey lights) were not seen by many, partly because they were obscured by our own smoke and partly because they didn't stand out from the welter or pyrotechnics put up by the enemy, including a prolific use of tracer.  Light signals must be duplicated by some other means.

 

4.  2 inch mortar is an unsatisfactory weapon for close support at night.  It is almost impossible to observe and, on this raid, it is very likely that some of the casualties were caused by our own 2" HE bombs.

 

5.  Some form of comn between the Command Post and "firm base", or alternatively between the Command Post and a Check Point past which all members of the patrol withdraw, must be provided.  On this occasion it was impossible to tell whether the patrol was sufficiently clear of the enemy posn to enable the range at which the arty and 3" mortars were firing to be shortened to his FDLs.

 

6.  Where speed of evacuation of casualties was essential (FDLs a mile apart and the enemy might well have tried to interfere) more SBs should have been well forward, certainly as far as the "firm base".  On this occasion there was time lost getting stretchers forward from the farm to the place where casualties had been carried bodily by other members of the patrol.

 

7.  The tonic effect of a successful raid had a tonic effect on a unit which had been sitting on a defensive position for over a month.