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Sergeant Gordon Harris

Sergeant Harris' notebook

Sergeant Gordon Harris

 

Unit : Royal Army Medical Corps, attached to Brigade HQ, 3rd Parachute Brigade

Service No. : 7263936

 

Sergeant Gordon Harris was a member of the Royal Army Medical Corps, attached to 3rd Parachute Brigade Headquarters, and he died as a result of his wounds on the 6th June 1944. Together with 19 others of Brigade Headquarters and the 224th Parachute Field Ambulance, he flew to Normandy aboard Dakota KG.414, chalk number 273, of 48 Squadron. The aircraft was hit by flak to the North of Cabourg, suffering damage to the rudder, port engine and wing, but despite the rudder being unserviceable it managed to return to Down Ampney after dropping the parachutists. Due to the poor conditions, it is likely that the aircrew mistook the River Dives for the River Orne, as the stick was dropped near Gonneville-sur-Mer, approximately 8 miles to the East of DZ "V". Of the 20 aboard, 5 were killed in action, 1 did not jump, and the remainder were taken prisoner, as is recorded in the following table.

 

No.1

No.2

No.3

No.4

No.5

No.6

No.7

No.8

No.9

No.10

No.11

No.12

No.13

No.14

No.15

No.16

No.17

No.18

No.19

No.20

227054 Capt. W.E. Church

5835418 Pte K.G. Wright (1)

6405303 L/Cpl A.H. Reeves

7263936 Sgt G. Harris (2)

T/277637 Pte D.F. Delahunt (3)

2599286 L/Cpl T. Furlong

14415632 Pte L.R. Stocks (4)

76447 Lt-Col. D.A. Thompson

97002515 Pte Bunny

230888 Capt/Rev. J.C. McVeight

77672 Major A.A. Kyrle Pope

4032412 Pte A.J. Rayner

97005087 L/Cpl Chitty

97003811 Pte R.A. Tingle (5)

4859445 CSM A.E. Lord

3386281 Pte G. Johnson (5)

5127192 Pte A.F. Rollason

14219523 Cpl H.H.B. Neathy

14511807 Sgmn A.C. Mann

554395 Sgt Pullen (Jump Master)

HQ 3rd Para

HQ 3rd Para

HQ 3rd Para

HQ 3rd Para

HQ 3rd Para

HQ 3rd Para

HQ 3rd Para

224 Fd Amb

224 Fd Amb

HQ 3rd Para

HQ 3rd Para

HQ 3rd Para

224 Fd Amb

224 Fd Amb

Defence Platoon

HQ 3rd Para

HQ 3rd Para

HQ 3rd Para

HQ 3rd Para

224 Fd Amb

M.O.

Batman

Medical Orderly

 

Padre's Batman

Sgmn J Section

Sig Ord

CO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Runner, 1 Sec Def Pl

Runner, 2 Sec Def Pl

Sigmn DR, J Sec

Sigmn DR, J Sec

APTC

POW

KIA

POW

KIA

DOW

POW

Did not jump

POW

POW

POW

KIA

POW
POW
KIA

POW

POW

POW

POW

POW

POW

 

Notes.

1) KIA at Villers-sur-Mer 15/06/44, during the raid of Ville Lucie.

2) KIA 06/06/44. Initially buried at Ste Foy de Montgomery, now at La Deliverande IX-A-09.

3) Died of Wounds. Initially buried at Dozulé, now at Ranville VA-C-03.

4) Ordered not to drop due to sickness.

5) KIA at Douville-en-Auge 07/06/44, initially buried at Douville.

 

 

It is not known how Sergeant Harris came to be wounded, but the following letter describes the circumstances of his discovery by French civilians:

 

June 27, 1952

 

Mr. J. Harris

12 A Broad St.,

Ramsgate, Kent

ENGLAND

 

Dear Mr. Harris,

 

I have been absent from my office for nearly a month and for that reason I have been unable to answer before today your letter of May 25th. Quite simultaneously I have received a reply from Mrs. E. King, 95, Montagne Tibbles House, Queens Crescent, Chalk Farm, London, N.W.S. and from J.A. Maxwell of Maxwell & Maxwell, 83 W. Graham St., Glasgow C-4, Scotland. Therefore I am sending copy of this letter to both.

 

It was with real emotion that I read the three letters. When I started to correspond in order to try and locate the family of Gordon Harris who died during action at the same place as my young brother Philippe, I had the impression that I was looking for my own relatives. I am certainly very happy to have succeeded.

 

I must confess that I was not too lucky with the Army Records whom I contacted in that connection. I have a couple of letters from them, in answer to my own, stating in effect that they were studying the case. Fortunately, I kept the notebook, - it could have been lost otherwise.

 

I do regret to revive your sorrow but, on the other hand, I am certain you are anxious to get as many news as possible concerning your son. Your son was seriously injured as per information I had from the Mayor of Gonneville-sur-Mer (Mr. Victor Miocque) and the Parish Priest (Father A. Lechartier). They stated this happened during action in the early morning of June 6th. The English and Canadian paratroopers had landed at Gonneville shortly after midnight. The same day the population had been prevented to go out. On the next day when peasants were allowed to go out, the injured paratrooper was found in a bush. At first, they did not think his condition too critical and they were considering the possibility to hide him. The Mayor and the Parish Priest who knew but a few words of English were brought to him. He was perfectly conscious but could not easily talk. After he was well-examined, it became evident (there were no doctors there) that he had to be rushed to the hospital that was administered by the occupants. Although they were unable to obtain more information from the Germans, it seems he died with them inside a few hours. Having had this information six years after, it is not impossible, that there was a little confusion concerning the facts.

 

One of the peasants who had found the injured came back to the same spot to see if there was anything left on the ground that would belong to him. He found the notebook which, apparently, had been intentionally half-hidden, - probably with the hope that someone would find and return it to his family. They could hardly keep any personal things during action. When the notebook was handed to the Parish Priest he hid same as Germans were going to private houses in search of documents to try and prove that local people had contacts with paratroopers. When the Administrative Services of the Army came at Gonneville-sur-Mer later on, the Mayor returned all the belongings he had found on Allied Soldiers (everything that was brought to him by the local inhabitants) whenever it was possible to be there before the Germans; and the notebook was so well hidden that he could not find it that day. I believe this was fortunate in some way. In fact, all the belongings of my brother for which the Mayor holds a receipt from the Army Authorities were apparently lost by them as they were never returned to us. When they learned that from us, they decided at Gonneville to keep the notebook until they could meet someone capable to make necessary enquiries to find the family.

 

I have given all these details though I do not like very much to talk about those circumstances as they remind me my two brothers who died in action. They were the youngest of a 14-family and I was considering them more or less "my own sons". Our only hope is that "their sacrifice was not made in vain, that it will contribute to protect the generations to come".

 

I am sending the note-book with this letter and I am returning to your daughters (Mrs. King) with a copy of this letter the two photographs she was kind enough to send to me.

 

Yours very truly,

 

Jacques Rousseau,

Director

 

 

The following is a transcript of the entries which Harris made in his notebook in the days before D-Day:

 

May 26th. 44.

Waiting for D day. We are isolated not able to go out for our last booze up. Just as well. Too many people talk.

 

29th.

Today we are shown our planes and positions for jumping. DAKOTA C.47 - No.4 behind the M.O.

 

Wonder what height they will let us go at, hope rear planes are not too close behind.

 

30th.

Brig comes round today. Officers have been "briefed". Where will it be - France - Norway I wonder.

 

Funny somehow I knew it would be France. Take-off 2400 tomorrow, drop on Jerry around 2 am.

 

Up to the airfield fitted chutes. Hope mine opens O.K. I want a little smack at Jerry same as everyone else.

 

Tomorrow is the great day. I think take off by plane at dusk arrive in France about 2 am.

 

Wish I were on the opposite page like Ken though, but the sooner we get it over the better. Look out Jerry here we [come].

 

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