Captain Laurence Athelstan Salt
Unit : Battalion Headquarters, subsequently "D" Company, 12th Battalion The Devonshire Regiment.
My name is Laurence Athelstan Salt, born at 61 Courthill Road, Lewisham, London SE13 6UK, on the 9th February 1920, eldest son of Thomas John Salt and Norah Agnes Salt (nee Harris).
On the 28th August 1943, I was posted to the 12th Devonshire Regiment stationed at Bulford where I arrived on the 6th September. In July they had become part of the newly formed 6th Airlanding Brigade alongside 2nd Bn Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry and 1st Bn Royal Ulster Rifles. We were part of the British 6th Airborne Division. The emphasis was on fitness. We did 1 hour of PT every day with marching or moving across country. I attended flying instruction courses at Brize Norton and went up in gliders towed by Whitley bombers. The physical training continued and in December we practiced river crossings: I had to cross a deep river by swimming at 6.30 in the morning; the water was very cold and I caught a nasty cold. We marched a lot, on one occasion, we landed by glider then marched 66 miles over two days and then a final assault at the double across country.
There were various assault courses to complete which I would describe as many death defying obstacles placed in a row and all made as grim as humanly possible. In the February assault course, five chaps were taken to hospital; we had to cross the River Tees in two places, out of our depth, crawl through mud with Brens firing over our heads and scale cliffs then spend the night outside. In March we had an exercise on Exmoor with live ammunition, spending the night on Dunster Sands. At that time General Montgomery paid us a visit and was very chatty.
At the beginning of 1944 I was a Second Lieutenant in the 12th Devons, the Loading Officer responsible for ensuring the gliders carried the correct weight of men and/or equipment. In fact there were not enough gliders on D-Day and only "A" Company went in by glider at that stage I was assigned to D Company which comprised 7 officers and about 100 other ranks. The Officer Commanding D Company was Major John Bamfylde, second in command was Captain John Warwick-Pengelly and my fellow subalterns were Lieutenant Peter Taylor, Lieutenant G ("Stinker") Reakes, Lieutenant F. Ogden and Lieutenant Derek Grange.
On the 2nd June, we were assembled at Bulford Camp in readiness to take part in Operation OVERLORD, the invasion of France. On the 3rd June, we left Bulford for Grays near Tilbury Docks where the officers were briefed on the invasion plans, then embarked with Major Bampfylde and 163 all ranks (which numbers included D Company) on landing craft Number L.C.I. (L) 3117 at Tilbury and by 1430hrs that day we were anchored off Southend. On board, the officers briefed the men. The next day, we sailed for Sheerness only to be recalled at 1940hrs to return to anchor inside the Thames Estuary Boom off Southend.
On the 6th June, we received confirmation that the invasion was on and we sailed at 0445 hrs in convoy to the rendez-vous point South of the Isle of Wight and then for the landing beaches with 12 cargo liberty ships and 2 destroyers. In the straights of Dover, the convoy suffered shelling but no casualties were sustained. Whilst in the Channel, we saw the main glider force, which included the 12th Devons A Company, fly over to France. Landing took place at 1000 hrs on the 7th June in the White Sector at Queen's section of Sword Beach by the village of Hermanville near Lion-sur-Mer, West of Ouistreham without casualties, under the protection of the guns of HMS Warspite. There was a moderate swell and we had to jump into about 4 feet of water (it was about 4 hours before high water). We assembled in the area code named "HOMER" West of Ouistreham at 1600hrs. There was sporadic shelling of the beach and a small amount of sniper fire but generally the area had been cleared of Germans.
We left "Homer" assembly area at 1700hrs and marched inland towards the bridge over the Caen Canal, now known as "Pegasus Bridge", which had been captured in the early hours of the 6th June by the 2nd Oxford & Buckinghamshire Regiment commanded by Major R.J. Howard. We passed Café Gondree (owned by Monsieur & Madame Gondree) which was the first house in France to be liberated. We marched over the bridge, which had some damage from bullet and shell fire but on the whole was not seriously damaged, then over the bridge on the River Orne, held by the 7th Parachute Brigade, to Le Bas de Ranville and took up defensive positions, relieving the 12th Bn Parachute Regiment on the left flank, at 1800 hrs. A Company, which had landed the previous day by glider, joined us that evening shortly after which, around 2200 hrs, we were subject to heavy mortar fire. An hour later, the position was machine gunned and bombed by enemy aircraft. Three other ranks were killed, 16 wounded. The Germans were using a new type of anti-personnel bomb which was not very pleasant.
On the 9th June, I was ordered to take a recce patrol to confirm that the enemy positions on the reverse of the slope and in an orchard opposite our positions had been abandoned. The Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel GR Stevens, accompanied us. As we approached the slope, we came under heavy mortar and machine gun fire from the enemy positions and had to withdraw under a smoke screen set up by A Company and our own defensive fire of light machine guns.
On the same day, I wrote to my parents "I am somewhere I France and there seems to be a bit of a war going on... I have never felt better but at times I must admit to being a little frightened but I seem to be getting over that now and feeling quite a veteran of the battle front!... I think they (the Germans) were taken a bit by surprise - still they are showing lots of fight. Shells are continually streaming over our positions and now and again the Hun replies with a short burst of shelling and so life goes on... The French villages here are very pretty and the people for the greater part are very glad to see us although being swept again by another war can't be very amusing for them."
The first major German attack was on the 10th June, tanks and infantry against the flank held by the 6th Airborne Division; we were able to halt the attack but suffered some losses. We remained dug in at Ranville over the 7th - 11th June frequently mortared and shelled by the enemy, suffering a number of casualties.
On the 12th June, I wrote to my parents, at the time not knowing of the attack on Breville which was to take place that evening. "I would not have missed this show for the world and I am proud of being part of many who have taken a vital part in the success of the landing. The Btn is in wonderful shape and fighting magnificently and are as happy as fighting cocks. The CO inspires too - he has the heart and confidence of each and every man and is doing wonderfully. We as a Btn are lucky to have him as our CO."
On the evening of 12th June at about 1930 hrs, our Company Commander, Major Bampfylde, informed Captain John Pengelly that D Company was to attack Breville and should move to the start line at Le Plein about 3 miles away for 2145 hrs. D company, on very short notice and with no proper briefing and now comprising about 80 men, was ordered to move to Amfreville to attack Breville with the 12th Bn Parachute Regiment, comprising about 300 men and a tank squadron from the 13/18th Royal Hussars. The village was used by the Germans to launch attacks on the British positions; it had been attacked twice by the 5th Battalion The Black Watch but without success and with heavy casualties. The village was held by the German 346th Infantry Division part of the 858th Grenadier Regiment and overlooked our positions and the Caen Canal and Orne River bridges. We set off along the track parallel to the River Orne and then on a track towards Amfreville which was steep at times, about a yard wide in places, overgrown and cut up by earlier shelling and trenches, transporting our heavier equipment in handcarts. We got to Le Plein, just next to Amfreville, around 2200 hrs.
As we approached the assembly point by the church in Le Plein a shell landed amongst us causing some casualties - we all hit the deck! We were then ordered by Captain Pengelly to an orchard on the edge of Amfreville just below Breville from where the attack would start. All the time we were under shell fire and subsequently Captain Pengelly was wounded.
British heavy artillery was concentrated on the Breville to soften up the defences. Unfortunately, some shells fell short, killing Major Bamfylde as well as Lieutenant Colonel Johnny Johnson the CO of the 12 Para and wounding Captain Pengelly and Lieutenant Taylor. Lord Lovat CO of the Lovat Scouts, was also badly wounded by the shelling. As a result, none of the Platoon Commanders were fully briefed and none of the Section Commanders had any orders at all. We just knew we had to capture Breville but without any attack plan!
Major Eddie Warren took over command of the Company following the death of Major Bamfylde. He was commanding officer of Support Company and had come along to see how the attack was going! We advanced across a cornfield towards the Northern end of Breville, then over a sunken lane that was full of dead and dying Germans as a result of our shell fire. Wounded men from 12 Para, who had advanced in front of us, were coming back towards us and there were many bodies on the ground, men of the 12th Para who had been caught on the start line by enemy fire. Some Sherman tanks came forward in support of us as we advanced. With my platoon, I made towards the area to the North of the Church crawling through the gardens of various houses and the orchards in which there were a large number of dying and wounded Germans. There was the sound of a lot of firing coming from the direction of the Church and I met up with Eddie Warren along with men from 12 Para and others from D Company, by the ruined church which was on fire. The town was captured and I remember the strange noise from the burning church as the air, heated by the flames, passed through the organ pipes. It was very eerie. At that moment, we were again shelled, apparently by our own guns and we immediately took cover. The village was already strewn with bodies of British and German soldiers, either dead or wounded and, as a result of the further shelling, more casualties were incurred by the 12th Paras and D Company.
In all, D company lost 1 officer killed (Major Bamfylde), 2 officers wounded (Capt. J. Pengelly & Lt. P. Taylor), 5 ORs killed, 5 missing and 18 ORs wounded; a total of 31 casualties out of the 80 soldiers who commenced the attack. The 12th Parachute Battalion had 8 officers and 133 ORs killed, missing or wounded out of their original number of about 300 men. I understand that the bodies of some 78 Germans were found in the village after the battle.
After that we dug in in a position on the North East corner of the village green to await the German counter attack which fortunately never came. We were relieved at 1400 hrs the next day.
Two days later, on the 15th June, I wrote "I am sitting on a 2 gall tin of cyder as I write this letter, which I have just purchased from a French farmer for 20 francs. He wouldn't take the money to start with, but I insisted in my very broken French! Please don't worry about me too much - I am fit and happy doing a job which I hope and trust will have a lasting result - let's hope it won't take long... God bless you and keep you both and pray for me."
Major Warren was then officially appointed OC of D Company with myself (promoted to Captain) as Second in Command.
On the 16th June, I was able to write to my parents "I am looking forward to a rest now - this has been a lot of strain and Oh for a bath and some fresh veg & food!... I have been giving most of my chocolate & sweets to the little French children - how they enjoy it!... I am sitting by a dug out not far from the Hun but it is very quiet - the only noise being a stray shot here and there. Good night my dears, pray hard for these chaps."
I wrote a short note to my parents on the 20th June "As I expect you will have noticed I have been promoted in the field and am now 2 i/c of a Coy and shortly will take over as adjt of the Bn. We are all happy to get a little rest soon - I think most of us could do with it - I know I could. Give my love to all - I am longing to be with you again."
From the 20th June, D Company was ordered into position to the South of Breville where there is a large chateau known as Chateau de Come. I was occupying one of the trenches in front of the Chateau on one occasion, when a Panzer came from the German lines behind the Chateau towards our trenches and was attacked by two British tanks which it destroyed before moving off. When the first tank was hit, one of my men went to pull out the tank commander, who was wounded in the turret, he got him to a trench but before he could jump in himself, the German tank fired again and the velocity force of the shell cut the man in two. He died instantly.
On the 23rd/24th June, an attack was launched on Caen and from our positions on the hill above the canal, we watched the tanks go into action but one by one, they were picked off by the 88mm German guns and soon the approaches to Caen were covered in burning tanks. The attack as called off and only a few of the tanks returned. Below us about 4 miles to the South, the Cameron Highlanders and the Seaforth Highlanders attacked St. Honorine. Later we learnt that it was called Operation EPSOM but it was not a success.
On the 25th June, we suffered very heavy fire and that evening I was ordered to carry out a raid with 6 Other Ranks at night to capture a prisoner to get some information. The raid was cancelled at midnight due to the likely state of alertness of the enemy. The next night, Lieutenant E Strawbridge (C Company) was sent out on a patrol to replace mine, which had been cancelled, Eddie Warren said it wasn't fair on me to go as I had been on standby the night before. The patrol attacked a German position but was repelled with one man wounded.
We were frequently harassed by snipers. On one occasion, I was having a cup of tea with Eddie Warren when I heard a loud buzz past my ear. I immediately hit the deck believing it to be a sniper's bullet but Eddie assured me it was only a bee!
I wrote on the 23rd June to my parents "I hope those pilotless gadgets are not giving you too much trouble... we have had one or two fly over here and they make such a peculiar noise that we have christened them "Constipated Charlie". Do hope we find something to use against them soon... I live in a hole in the ground - quite a deep one and I have covered the bottom with straw covered by a red parachute. It is a bit damp but so far my bones seem fairly sound!... I managed to get a bath the other day in an old French farm house - it was wonderful"
I wrote to my parents on the 27th June with a complaint about the amount of rain and telling them of the stone memorial cross cut & erected by the 6th Airborne.
On the 5th July, D Company changed its position with C Company which was a bad move as at 1800 hrs, 6 mortar bombs fell on our HQ killing one OR and wounding 5 others. Shelling continued throughout the night with us responding.
On the night of the 7th July, we watched the 500 bomber raid on Caen. The American and British bombers went over us and bombed the town flat, there were only ruins left.
We had a rest period until the 10th July when we moved in to replace the 51st Highland Division which was to carry out an operation on the Northern edge of Colombelles. The operation was not successful and we were relieved by the 5th Bn Black Watch whilst we returned to the reserve area. We were pretty worn out at this stage having been on active duty and frequently under fire for over a month. In addition, we had "stand to" from 0415 to 0550 and from 2230 to 2330 with each section of 5 men having 2 on sentry duty at night and 1 during the day. During the rest period I wrote home on the 11th July from a small French café. "The war must have hit them suddenly for the tables are still laid for customers and the clock is still ticking - it is all very comfortable. I have just had some biscuits & camembert cheese - delicious! We have also procured some kidney - lunch ought to be a success. The news is good and everyone is full of confidence but the weather is foul still - it simply won't stop raining."
On the 18th July, we watched 1,000 American and British bombers flying over to bomb Caen to pieces. This was followed by an attack developing below us with the tanks of the Guards Armoured Division supported by the infantry of the 52nd Highland Division passing through Ranville and St. Honorine.
On the 21st July, the Battalion relieved the Royal Ulster Rifles at Le Mesnil crossroads, my company was the right forward company, nearest the enemy and we had to use a crawl trench for all movements as we were under constant observation from the German lines. The fact that it rained a lot made progress muddy and difficult and we were constantly standing in water. We were mortared from time to time and immediately responded with mortars from our mortar unit. At night, when the German bombers came over, the enemy put up green very lights to mark their forward positions. On the 25th July, we were relieved by B Company. On the 30th July, we relieved B Company! We were mortared that night and an anti-tank gun destroyed. All this time it absolutely poured with rain, the heaviest I had seen, it was simply hell and limited air operations which meant less top cover for us. But less for the Germans too.
I spent a day at this time visiting Bayeux and Caen and the battlefields in the area. Bayeux escaped most of the shelling and bombing and is almost entirely intact. Caen was a heap of rubble.
We were subject to periodic shelling and mortaring and continued to carry out patrols during this period. On the 6th August at 2030hrs we were shelled and Lieutenant Grange was killed. So far we had suffered two officers killed and two wounded out of an original total of 7 officers.
On the 17th August, Eddie Warren was promoted to second-in-command of the Battalion, Major KJT Stoneman was appointed Officer Commanding D Company with Captain WA Wright as 2ic. Around this time General Montgomery decorated some of the chaps from my Division and told us how valuable our work had been.
At this time we were briefed on Operation PADDLE which was the breakout from the Breville area towards the River Seine. We were consolidated in the area by Longuemare crossroads and on the 20th August the battalion were transported from Le Plein to an area near Troarn which we reached around 1930hrs. We were just settling down when we were ordered to leave and move forward which we did at 0200hrs the enemy having apparently drawn back. It was very dark and very wet. We were all tired out by the time we stopped at 0630hrs. We were then ordered to move towards Branville so D Company moved through C Company towards a crossroads when we came under mortar and machine gun fire but were able to establish positions close to Branville. C Company advanced the next day and occupied Branville as the Germans had pulled out.
I was able to write home on the 23rd August "... we are moving quite fast and we are hardly long enough in one place to write letters. We are all in great form and enjoying the chase. The scenes in the towns and villages as we liberate them are most touching, so different from Normandy. Crowds gather and often block the road - there are tears joy - flowers are thrown or tied on the jeeps - and kisses - well I think I have received more from old men than women! Every village so far has rung the church bells all day everybody is so happy. It is a wonderful reward to see such happiness."
On the 24th August, the battalion arrived at Touques and the same afternoon a flying patrol comprising 19 Platoon led by Major Warren, riding on a gas driven baker's van, a Citroen lorry and a fire engine (the occupants wearing the fire fighters brass hats!) occupied and freed Honfleur although a few Germans still resisted there. The rest of the Battalion left Touques at 1715 and marched via St. Philbert and Equemanville reaching Honfleur at 2200hrs. D Company was based near the Hotel Angleterre.
On the 25th August, B Company advanced to be astride the road La Riveiere to St. Sauveur and then to push for the bridge over the river at Fiquefleur. A & C Companies advanced and both came under attack. We were sent to the high ground East of Ablon to cover the withdrawal of C Company who had been counter-attacked on two sides and were ordered to withdraw. The next day the Germans pulled back and we advanced over the bridge and on to Berville which had been captured by Royal Ulster Rifles. From there, we moved to Conteville where we rested for 24 hrs before moving to Figuefleur.
On the 1st September we were transported back through Pont L'Eveque, Dozule, Troarn, Herouvillette, Ranville, across Pegasus Bridge to La Deliverande. We embarked on the 2nd September from the harbour constructed at Arramanches on board LSI Princess Astrid (a former cross channel steamer) arriving in Southampton on the 3rd September from where we left for Bulford Camp and 14 days leave. After the leave period we resumed training with a heavy emphasis on street fighting as this was what was anticipated when we returned to fight in Europe.
Out of the 49 officers of A, B, C & D Companies who left on the 6th June for France, there were 28, including myself, who were not either killed, evacuated or wounded between that date and the 1st September. Six were killed in action.
I was recalled from leave to Bulford and on the 22nd December left for Dover where we had spent the night in a transit camp at Old Park Barracks. We left for Calais on the 23rd December on an Isle of Man steam packet "Ben-My-Chree" to meet the threat of a breakthrough by the Germans through the Ardennes. We were transported from Calais through St. Omer, Bethune, Ypres and Tournai to Waereghem and arrived there on Christmas Day.
The next day, on Christmas Day, we moved to Dinant in an area to the East of the River Meuse, covering the road from Ciney and Celles which included the protection of Dinant Bridge over the River Meuse. Patrols were sent out but no Germans encountered. It was bitterly cold and began to snow.
During December I continued my duties as Adjutant of the Regiment, which included keeping the War Diary but on the 1st January, Captain TDD Bowman took over my duties as Adjutant (although officially the changeover date was the 30th January)
On the 2nd January 1945 we moved to Houyet on the River Lesse on a hill overlooking the village where we dug trenches in the grounds of and to the East of Chateau Royal D'Ardenne, facing to the South in order to resist any attack from the right flank of the German forces. The snow was thick on the ground. Three days later, on the 5th January, we marched via Wellin to Tellin where we took over the positions of the 12th Para Battalion, which was on the front line, the Germans being in occupation of Bure. D Company was dug in to the South of the Church and our orders were to defend the town.
On the 5th January, the 13th Parachute Battalion attacked Bure re-enforced by the Ox & Bucks, capturing the village by that evening with heavy casualties but not clearing the Germans completely from the town. The survivors withdrew through our lines early in the morning of the 6th January.
On the 7th January, there was heavy shelling and mortaring with shells bursting amongst the trees. Lt. FE Cooke of C Company was killed and Captain EC Strawbridge of the same Company, who had been through the Normandy campaign, was wounded. Patrols towards Bure and Grupont met German resistance and losses suffered. In total 4 were killed and seven wounded that day with one missing (he was wounded and found the next day).
On the 8th January patrols indicated that the Germans had started to draw back and under Operation Skate, the 12th Devons started to move out with D Company leaving Tellin on the 9th January at 2300hrs to occupy Grupont which was heavily mined. The next day, B Company which had been ambushed whilst heading for Mormont, returned to Grupont.
A sad occasion occurred at Bande where soldiers of the 6th Airborne acted as bearers at the funeral of 34 young men ranging in age from 17 to 21 years, who had been herded into a cellar at Bande by the Nazis after they had re-occupied the town and shot one by one. Only one young man escaped. Equally sad was the murder of the Burgomaster of Grupont who was shot by the Germans and whose body was found in woods near Mormont on the 15th January.
From the 11th January, D Company remained in Grupont, A Company in Awenne, B Company in Mormont and C Company at Masbourg until being ordered to withdraw on the 17th January to Mesnil, St. Blaze, Blaimont and Heer, D Company being at Heer. We stayed at Heer until the 24th January when we left in road transport at 0730hrs in freezing snowy conditions arriving at Boekend near Blerick, a town on the West bank of the River Maas, around midnight. We rigged up the open jeeps with wooden boards in an attempt to keep the cold out! The next evening we took over from the 2nd Gordons at Blerick opposite the Germans who were on the East bank at Venlo. D Company were initially assigned a reserve/counter-attack role based at a place called Boekend.
The next few days were spent in patrolling, training for attacking through woods and in landing craft, interspersed with periodic mortaring and shelling by the enemy. On the night of the 2nd February the Church spire at Venlo was blown off, presumably by our guns and the Germans increased their mortar fire that day, perhaps in retaliation!
On the night of the 6th February, the Germans launched an attack by boat across the river but this was repelled by shell, mortar and machine gun fire. Over the next couple of days, the shelling of our positions increased but our guns and mortar responded. Since we had arrived by the River Maas, it had continued to rise and flow fast which limited the number of boat patrols and made them difficult because of the current.
On the 16th February we were informed that the US 75th Division would take over our positions and we would move to an area North of Brussels. The 75th Division recce patrol with its Commanding Officer arrived on the 20th February with the rest of the Division the next day. The Germans obviously realised something was going on and welcomed the Americans with increased shelling! We left that evening, travelled overnight and arrived at Ninove, North of Brussels at 0630 hrs on the 22nd February.
On the 24th February, we flew from Nivelle Airport to Broadwell Aerodrome near Oxford and transported from there back to Bulford. We were given block leave from 2nd to 9th March.
At Bulford, we were issued with our orders and whilst most of the Battalion moved to Gosfield airfield near Braintree for embarkation on the gliders to Hamminkeln, I was required to be in charge of the Residue of the Battalion left at Bulford, much to my disappointment but it was probably Providence as the Battalion suffered quite a number of casualties, 80 killed, 30 wounded and 30 missing.
I eventually embarked by boat on the 21st April arriving the next day in Europe. I joined the Battalion together with two other officers, Lts. Sanders and Storey, Sgt. Perry and seven ORs on the 28th April at Stadorf, near Uelzen, where D Company was encamped. My friend Major Gerry Palmer was in charge of D Company.
On the 29th April we marched over eight hours via Bienenbuttel, Vastorf and Horndorf to Radenbeck and were billeted in the village in preparation of crossing the River Elbe which we did at midnight on the 30th April over a temporary bridge constructed near Launeburg, resting at 0600 in the Bickhausen area after marching all night. We saw a German jet fighter that day trying unsuccessfully to drop a bomb on the bridge over the River Elbe. That evening when we marched on to Schwanheide.
On the 2nd May we left on transport for Wismar passing many Germans fleeing from the Russians and masses of abandoned equipment. Major Palmer was ordered to stay with D company at Gadesbuch to take charge of a POW cage with about 20,000 prisoners were they had been short of food and water. A few days later we moved on to Hohen Viecheln about 10 miles South of Wismar on the Schweriner See. Here official contact was made with the Russians with our Lieutenant Colonel Gleadell attending dinner with their Commanding Officer. We set up road blocks and arms dumps to deal with the masses of refugees and surrendering German soldiers.
It was near this village that I visited a concentration camp which I found most distressing. A man came up to me and put his arms round my neck to thank me; it was then that I realised the person was a woman, not a man, but she was so thin it was impossible to tell. I took some photographs there but when I later tried to have them developed in England, the chemist refused to return them to me as the ghastly nature of the camps was still being kept secret. I later discovered that the camp was known as Malchow Concentration Camp situate at Dorf Mecklenburg about five miles North of Hohen Viecheln. It was a sub camp for Ravensbruck and housed about 5,000 women.
On the 6th May a Thanksgiving Service was held at Wismar Church. We stayed in Hohen Viecheln for about two weeks, rounding up the Germans, doing maintenance, Church Services and various parades. On the 17th May we left on transport for Fassburg airport near Luneburg and then flew to Greenham Common airfield landing at 1700 hrs. We went to Bulford for 3 days to sort things out before being granted 28 days leave.
The 12th Devons records show that after crossing the Rhine, the Battalion travelled 369 miles in 41 days of which 168 miles was on foot and 201 in transports. During the campaign in Normandy between the 6th June and the 29th August 1944, the Devons had 14 Officers and 212 Other Ranks wounded and 4 Officers and 33 Other Ranks killed.
On the 28th August 1945, I was posted from the 12th Devons to 14 Holding Bn with instructions to report to the Special Reserve Training Unit for a short course as Team Officer Civil Resettlement Unit (CRU) and then posted as Team Officer to 17 CRU. I was released from the Army on the 22nd July 1946.
I was awarded King George VI Coronation Medal, the 1939-45 Star, the France & Germany Star, the 1939-45 War Medal and the Defence Medal.
REFERENCES AND SOURCES
Letters written by Laurence Salt to his parents between 1939 and 1945.
Laurence Salt's Service Record
12th Devons War Diary from D Day to 26 August 1944 ref WO 171/1279
12th Devons War Diary from 2nd December 1944 to 28th February 1945
12th Devons War Diary from 1st March 1945 to 31st May 1945 ref WO 171/5172
'Go to It' the Illustrated History of the British Airborne Division. Peter Harclerode. Caxton Editions, London. 1990
'The Bloody Eleventh' The History of the Devonshire Regiment, Volume III 1914 - 1969. WJT Aggett. The Devonshire and Dorset Regiment, Exeter. 1995.
British Airborne Troops 1940-45. Barry Gregory. Macdonald and Jane's. London 1974
"With the Sixth Airborne Division to Normandy". Lt. Gen. R.N. Gale CB, DSO, OBE, MC.
Pegasus Archive Website: http://www.pegasusarchive.org/varsity/war_12thDevon.htm accessed 2013
Laurence and Marion Salt had three children, Christopher James born 11th January 1946, Richard Thomas born 1st September 1948 and Alexandra Mary born on the 6th January 1953. Laurence died on the 22nd May 1994 aged 74 years and Marion died on the 17th January 1999 aged 80 years. Both are buried in the Cemetery at Budleigh Salterton Devon.
RICHARD SALT 22nd January 2019
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