National Archives catalogue number WO 171/1239.




13/18 H














Att / Attchd
































































Mor / Mort




O Group





Ox & Bucks LI


































Sta / Stn









X Rds


Map Reference

13th/18th Hussars






Advance / Advanced







Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders







Bridge / British


Black Watch





Commanding Officer








Defensive Fire

Division / Divisional

Drop Zone



Forward Defended Locality


Forward Observation Bombardment





General Officer Commanding












Intelligence Officer

Isle of Wight


King's Shropshire Light Infantry

Light Anti-Aircraft

Landing Craft Tank

Light Infantry

Light Machine Gun

Liaison Officer


Magnetic / Magazine




Machine Gun


Medium Machine Gun

Medical Officer


Motor Transport

Officer Commanding


Orders Group

Operation Order

Observation Post


Other Ranks

Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry








Prisoner of War



Royal Artillery

Regimental Aid Post

Royal Army Service Corps


Royal Engineers




Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers




Regimental Medical Officer



Small Arms

Small Arms Ammunition


Shell Report


Self-Propelled / Support (if lower case)


Special Service









Wireless Telegraphy





Month and year: June 1944

Commanding Officer : Lt. Col. R.G. Pine-Coffin


1st June 1944

Place: Tilshead


1000 - CO briefs Bn for operation OVERLORD cinema TILSHEAD.


1500 - Div Int Conference HARWELL - escape cards issued.


2nd June 1944

Place: Tilshead


Coy Briefing - 1800 hrs Conference at Bde HQ HARWELL.


3rd June 1944

Place: Tilshead


Coy Briefing - 1800 hrs Conference at Bde HQ HARWELL.


2100 - Co-ordinating conference with Major HOWARD "D" Coy 2 Ox & Bucks.


4th June 1944

Place: Tilshead


Visit to FAIRFORD Airfd to fit chutes and meet aircrew and return to TILSHEAD.  1800 hrs Conference at Bde HQ HARWELL.


5th June 1944

Place: Tilshead


Bn moves to rest camp in FAIRFORD PARK where short service was held by Rev PARRY - 1900 hrs bn moves to airfd - 2320 hrs Bn takes off.


6th June 1944

Place: Ranville


0100 - Bn completed drop but went into action with Coys at half normal strength due to some plane loads being dropped in wrong places and one load not dropping at all.


Place: Le Port and Benouville


0325 - Bn occupied objective and held it against various counter-attacks "A" and "B" Coys being heavily engaged.  Cas - killed 3 Officers, Capt Parry (Padre), Lt Bowyer and Lt Hill, and 16 ORs.  Wounded 4 Officers, Major TAYLOR, Capt WEBBER, Lt HUNTER & Lt TEMPLE & 38 ORs.  Missing, 170 ORs did not R.V. after drop.  Appx I.


1325 - Bn of Commandos passed through bn posns.


2200 - Stick from a/c which failed to drop arrived by glider - included Major TULLIS and Lt THEOBALD and R.M.O. Capt YOUNG.


2230 - Bn of Royal Warwicks arrived and put in an attack on BENOUVILLE.


7th June 1944

Place: Le Port & Benouville


0015 - Bn relieved by Royal Warwicks.


0045 - Bn arrived in Bde res and rest area at 105734.  Odd ptys of men rejoined the bn at various times during the day.


Place: Le Hom


1330 - Bn moved out and took up a defensive posn in area 112735 (Div res).


8th June 1944

Place: Le Hom


Bn posns shelled and mortared at various times during the day, some times heavily.


2100 - Bn seaborne pty arrived.


9th June 1944

Place: Le Hom


1111 - Shell burst in area of Bn HQ.  3 ORs killed - 8 ORs wounded.


1340 - L/C Spendlove (missing at time of drop) reported fighting with SS Commandos.


1450 - Shell burst over "B" Coy area.  4 ORs wounded.


2140 - Enemy a/c bombed bn area.


2150 - Enemy a/c strafed "B" Coy area - 1 man wounded.


10th June 1944

Place: Le Hom


0500 - "B" Coy area shelled for 30 mins - 2 ORs killed, 1 OR wounded.


1025 - Pty of enemy at 119740 reported believed destroyed by bn mortar and MG fire.


Place: Le Mesnil


1535 to 1809 - Bn completed successful attack on enemy in woods between bn posn and LE MESNIL taking up final posn in LE MESNIL.  Cas - wounded 1 officer Major NEAL, and 10 ORs.  Estimated 30 enemy killed - 90 take prisoner.  Appx II.


11th June 1944

Place: Le Mesnil


0630 - 2 prisoners captured.


1500 - "B" Coy area shelled and mortared.


1530 - Bn visited by BBC representatives.


2330 - Lt THOMAS (B Coy) shot and wounded by Coy sentry.


12th June 1944

Place: Le Mesnil


1502 - Shelling and fire from NORTH, Bn stands to for an hr and "A" Coy moves to 138726 to support 1 Canadian Bn.


2155 - Unknown missile lands in "B" Coy area.  6 ORs wounded.


13th June 1944

Place: Herouvillette


1030 - Bn moves to and takes up posn in HEROUVILLETTE.


1225 - A and C Coys rejoin Bn.


1245 - Slight shelling of "B" Coy area.


1530 - Slight shelling of "C" Coy area.


1940 - Bn area attacked by 4 or 5 Typhoon A/C and swept by cannon fire.  No cas.


2335 to 2350 - Bombing around bn area.


14th June 1944

Place: Herouvillette


0415 to 0430 - Bombing around bn area.


2245 - Bombs (mortar) landed in "C" Coy area.  One NCO killed 3 ORs wounded.


15th June 1944

Place: Herouvillette


1640 - Enemy shelling near "B" Coy area.


1650 - Two enemy maps found at 122722.  One marked.


16th June 1944

Place: Herouvillette


0145 - 2 bombs fell 300 yds from Bn HQ.


0425 to 0850 - Bn area heavily shelled and mortared.  4 Tanks observed 600 yds SW of "C" Coy 0730 hrs.  Cas 2 ORs killed and 4 ORs wounded.  Bn mortars return fire of enemy in wood to E of "B" Coy area.


0910 to 1030 - A Coy move to and clear wood.  Cas 1 Offr wounded (Lt McDONALD) 3 ORs wounded.  10 enemy killed, 11 POW taken (5 wounded) Armd Cars moved to support "B" Coy during "A" Coy attack.


1700 - CO attends Bde Comd's conference and receives orders for change over with 8 Para Bn.  Coy Comds given orders on return.  Appx III.


2030 - Adv Pty of 8 Bn arrived and own adv pty departs under 2IC.


17th June 1944

Place: Le Mesnil


0700 - Bn moves to area SE of LE MESNIL and takes up posn (Bn HQ at 140720).  Appx IV.


1140 - Shells land in bn area.


1615 to 2000 - "B" Coy patrol out.  Reports locality of 4 enemy mortars.  Posn shelled by our arty for 3 mins.  Enemy then reported gone but enemy seen in farm near mortar posn.


2210 - "C" Coy sniper killed 2 enemy snipers.


18th June 1944

Place: SE Le Mesnil


0300 to 0515 - Intermittent shelling round bn area.


0645 - "C" Coy area mortared.


0650 - SP gun firing from very close to Bn posns.


0755 - One OR killed and one OR wounded of "A" Coy by shell fire.


0830 - Two FW190 a/c flew over bn area.


1030 - Bn "O" Group called, attack to be made on farm, discovered by patrol.


1430 to 1440 - Own arty barrage down on enemy in farm.


1440 - "B" Coy commences attack.


1530 - Own main force split - counter-attack expected.


1540 - "B" Coy under heavy mortar fire.


1545 - "B" Coy makes way  back.


1630 - End of battle.  6 PW taken, no of enemy killed estimated 30.  Own cas, 3 Offrs wounded (Capt PARRISH, Lt FARR, Lt POOL), 2 ORs killed, 16 ORs wounded.


1655 - Salvoes of mortar bombs land in Bn area.  Possibly mortars.


2005 - CO's "O" Group.


2100 - A/Div Armd Recce in posn in bn area.  Wiring pty sent out.


19th June 1944

Place: SE Le Mesnil


0518 to 0635 - Recce pty from "C" Coy goes to investigate farm and reports slight movement.


0930 - C Coy bring in wounded prisoner (9 Coy, 858 Gren Regt).


0915 [?] - C Coy patrols report having seen enemy, 6 men and one dog in wood and enemy in bldgs at 147724.


1620 - Patrols report in.


2000 - SOS arty crump brought down on farm area.


2132 - Small pty of enemy seen on track near "C" Coy.


0455 to 2400 [?] - Intermittent shelling and mortaring of bn area.


2220 - A Coy reports gun firing from area 148722 (wood and track junc).


20th June 1944

Place: SE Le Mesnil


0035 - Firing and 3 verey lights seen NE of bn area.


0430 - "C" Coy patrol reports in.


0600 - Area N of bn shelled (7.5. SP gun possibly)


0815 - Ind Para Coy joined bn strength (about 40).


1015 - 6 FW 190 flew W to E over bn area.  Sec of enemy opened fire on left fwd pl "C" Coy.  Fire returned.


1640 - Enemy patrol seen at 145723.


1700 - Fighting patrol from Ind Coy attacks enemy, preceded by heavy mortar fire, and supported by "C" Coy.  Cas Capt DE LA TOUR of Ind Para Coy killed, Major BARLETT wounded, 4 ORs Ind Para Coy wounded.


1600 - Div Comd visits bn - 1615 War Correspondent visits bn.


1731 - Counter mortar fire from enemy lands in bn area.  2 ORs of "C" Coy killed.


1735 - 3 PW brought in.


1750 - Heavy shelling of bn area.  Shelling and intermittent mortaring continued, till 2300 hrs.


21st June 1944

Place: SE Le Mesnil


0005 to 0300 - Recce patrols out.


0930 to 0936 - Mortar fire on bn area.  80 mag to sound of firing.


0940 - Enemy lays smoke between A and C Coys.


1230 to 1745 - Intermittent shelling of and near bn area.  Major TULLIS wounded, 2 ORs killed, 6 ORs wounded.


1820 - Wiring pty from 12 Bn reports.  Commences work at 1830.


1850 - Rocket shells land near bn area.  170 mag to sound of firing.


2130 - Bn informed by 7 Black Watch of mines laid close to area.


22nd June 1944

Place: SE Le Mesnil


0335 to 0415 - Bn area shelled.


0900 - A and B coys change over posns.


0930 - Ind Para Coy leaves bn for Div HQ.


1600 - "C" Coy of 12 Bn relieves own "C" Coy.  Own "C" Coy to rest area at Bde HQ.


1930 - Four enemy, possibly recce patrol, seen moving round orchard 149717.


2120 - Shells land in bn area.


2210 - Bn area mortared.


2330 - B Coy reports enemy vehs heard moving in "Bobs" farm area.  4 ORs wounded during the day as a result of shelling.


23rd June 1944

Place: SE Le Mesnil


0225 - B Coy patrol returned and reported having seen small enemy sec.


1415 - C Coy patrol reports having seen 14 enemy with MG digging in.  Mortar fire brought to bear on area.


1500 - Notification from Black Watch of further mines having been laid.


1630 - Notification of change of address from APO England to "BWEF".


1725 - Mortars engage target in front of "C" Coy.  Intermittent shelling and mortaring of bn area during day.


24th June 1944

Place: SE Le Mesnil


0010 - Mortar Pl reports considerable movement of enemy from N to S.  Vehs heard in enemy lines.


0245 - C Coy patrol reports in - 0400 C Coy patrol reports in.


1250 - Bn area mortared.


1403 - Bn area mortared from bearing 170 mag.


1420 - Div Comd visits bn.


1839 to 2359 - Bn area shelled & mortared heavily.  Multi-barrelled mortars used at times.


2336 - C Coy reports firing on right of coy posns.


25th June 1944

Place: SE Le Mesnil


0001 to 0245 - Shelling of Bn area still continued but not so heavy.


0410 - Bn area heavily shelled from bearing of 75 grid.


0530 - B Coy patrol reports in.


1020 - Coy Comd of 8 Bn arrives.


1030 - CO holds bn "O" Group.


1345 - 8 Bn arrives to take over posns.


1430 - Change over completed.


1500 - Bn moves off.


Place: W of Ecarde 113757


1615 - Bn arrives in rest area.


1700 - Forces ENSA show for bn "Stars in Battle Dress" and at 1915.


26th June 1944

Place: W of Ecarde 113757


1135 - Four FW190 a/c fly over bn area.


28th June 1944

Place: W of Ecarde 113757


0930 to 1045 - CO, 2IC & Coy Comds pay visit to BREVILLE.


29th June 1944

Place: W of Ecarde 113757


1400 & 1900 - Parties from bn attend concert at LUC-sur-MER.  Lt McDONALD died of wounds in 86 Base Gen Hospital.


30th June 1944

Place: W of Ecarde 113757


1400 - CO visits area of A Coy's battle at BENOUVILLE.


1600 - Col BARLOW visits bn.


1700 - Short Memorial service at RANVILLE - burial of Lts McDONALD & HILL and 5 ORs.


2045 - Sups dropped by air near bn area.



Month and year: July 1944

Commanding Officer : Lt. Col. R.G. Pine-Coffin


1st July 1944

Place: Area of brs over R ORNE and CANAL de CAEN 113757


1900 - CO dines with Matron of Maternity Hospital at BENOUVILLE - Pty from Bn to cinema at LUC-SUR-MER


2nd July 1944

Place: Area of brs over R ORNE and CANAL de CAEN 113757


1030 - Bn Church Service held in Bn rest area - Col Barlow lunch with bn.  1500 hrs CO visits 8 Bn area - 1830 hrs RC Church Service.


2030 - CO to conference at Bde HQ.


2130 - Bn "O" Gp Conference (subject - arrival of 100 rfts).


3rd July 1944

Place: Area of brs over R Orne and Canal de Caen 113757


0900 - CO addresses all offrs and NCOs re rfts and future policy.  3 Offrs (Lts Pape, Patterson & Howard) and 100 ORs arrive.


4th July 1944

Place: SE of Le Mesnil


0815 - Bn moved from rest area to relieve 8 Para Bn in BOIS DE BAVENT.  Appx I.


1400 - 2 cas from enemy shelling.  1800 hrs Major Keene conference with OC 13 Para Bn.


2100 - CO to conference at Bde HQ.


5th July 1944

Place: SE of Le Mesnil


1030 to 1500 - CO conference at Bde HQ.


1600 - Visit from COs of 2 ASH and 1 BW.


6th July 1944

Place: SE of Le Mesnil


0001 - Recce patrol from A Coy goes into BOIS DE BAVENT (Sjt Parsons).


1000 - CO attends patrol conference at Bde HQ.


0900 - Div Comd visits bn area - congratulates Sjt Parsons on good patrol.


1000 - Patrol goes out under Sjt Chidlaw to same area as night patrol previous night.  CO attends patrol conference at Bde HQ.


1300 - CO attends Bde Comd's conference, i.e. Bn raid on enemy outpost.


1900 - Col Barlow visits bn.  Representative of Air Div Recce attends CO's conference, i.e. use of Tetrarchs for Bn raid.  Bde Comd visits bn with OC 12 Para Bn.


7th July 1944

Place: SE of Le Mesnil


0001 - Recce patrol goes out under Capt Mills (Capt Rogers and Sjt Parsons) returns 0335 hrs.


0830 - CO receives orders from Bde Comd to push fwd one or two hedgerows with fwd coys.


0900 - Orders issued to OC B and C to move and to be in posn by 1200 hrs.


1200 - All in posn by 1100 except right fwd pl of C Coy.  One OR killed in B Coy.  Right fwd pl of C Coy moved fwd at 1150 and was forced to withdraw from front edge of orchard by MG and mortar fire.  Lt Atkinson and two ORs of C killed, and 2 wounded.


1800 - Patrol detailed from C Coy to recover bodies - only recovered Lt Atkinson.  C Coy's right fwd pl relieved by pl of A Coy.


1900 - Arty conc put down on BOB'S FARM followed up at 1930 by recce patrol under Sjt Harper of B Coy.


1930 - Propaganda broadcast from brickworks towards BOB'S FARM.  Observers report that the German version seemed to meet with no visible response but the Polish version caused one or two men to sit up and take notice.  At 2245 the ASH on our right repeated the performance.


2130 - Pl of A Coy relieve C Coy pl on the right flank and pl of C Coy go into C Coy's vacated res posn.


2315 - A Coy section go fwd to orchard in front of C Coy's right fwd pl posn and two bodies of C Coy killed during move fwd were recovered.  Patrol had nothing else to report.


8th July 1944

Place: SE of Le Mesnil


0830 - Bde Comd visits bn.  CO attended patrol conference at Bde HQ 1000 hrs.


1115 - CO holds "O" Gp Conference - policy as previously laid down - offensive push posts fwd on all possible occasions.  B to try to get PIAT into hedge overlooking BOB'S FARM.  Sappers (under OC 591 Para Sqn) provide bulldozer for burial of cows and digging pits for jeeps.  Also asked permission for sappers to accompany A Coy's standing patrol - this was arranged.  During the whole day, as the previous day, Bn mortars kept up a steady fire on hedgerows in front of B and C Coys - not much retaliation except with 5cs mortars in the evening at 1915 hrs and with 8cm at 2320.  At 1910 hrs a PIAT in B Coy area fired at BOB'S FARM.


1400 - Capt Woodman took a small party to RANVILLE burial ground for burial of Lt Atkinson and 3 ORs of C Coy.  Lt Archdale received a new mortar to replace damaged one, and an indent submitted at 1900 hrs for two new ones.


2100 - CO submitted a report to bde about booby traps (2 hawkins and 36 gren) found in front of B Coy area.  Bde IO pursued matter through 3 Bde HQ, 8 Para Bn and 3 Para Sqn RE and no light was thrown on it.  Infm was received that during the night 8/9 6 Airldg Bde were going to put down arty concs their front followed by propaganda broadcast.  Col Barlow visited bn 'B' Echelon during morning.  Throughout the morning, but especially from 0400 hrs onwards, sounds of tremendous concs were heard in CAEN area following terrific air bombardment the previous evening.  At 2100 hrs news was received that the day's attack had reached the high ground just NORTH of CAEN.


9th July 1944

Place: SE of Le Mesnil


During the night there were two bouts of enemy mortar fire from direction through BOBS FARM - there were no cas.  The standing patrol of A Coy fwd on the right flank had nothing to report.  At 0845 hrs Bde Comd visited Bn area.  1000 hrs CO attended conference at Bde HQ.  0930-1000 hrs PIAT attack on BOB'S FARM with 30 bombs by B Coy covered by mortars on HELLFIRE.  At 1120 hrs Div interrogator arrives with news of Battle of CAEN and at 1200 hrs representative of 2nd Seaforths on our right arrives.  From 1230-1300 hrs PIATS engage BOB'S FARM.


1400 - CO attended Div Comds conference.  1530 hrs RC padre held Mass in Bn area.  1600 hrs CO had discussion with Bty comd from 53 Lt Regt followed by 'O' group conference in which CO gave outline plan of B Coy's raid for next day.  At 1910 hrs B Coy opened fire on BOB'S FARM with PIAT, bringing answering mortar fire from area of HELLFIRE on to C Coy and Bn mortars replied.  During the evening there was sporadic enemy mortar fire on Bn area and news was received that at 2200hrs 4 SS Bde would be carrying out Mortar & MG harassing tasks and at 0045 hrs the Airldg Bde would be putting over arty conc followed by propaganda broadcast.


10th July 1944

Place: SE of Le Mesnil


0030 - Gratifying news that our Gunners were engaging enemy gun posns reports by int section's shell reports of previous day.


1000 - CO attended conference at Bde HQ with OC B Coy (Maj Keene) to tie up plan for raid.


1345 - CO holds 'O' gp conference for B Coy's raid and OC B Coy gives his plan.  Fire support is tied up with OC C Coy and OC MG Pl.


1600 - Bde LO arrives with news that additional arty support is available for party.  1610 hrs Sgt Fraser (591 Para Sqn RE) reports to OC B Coy for raid with Mor Sgt 13th Bn who gives fire support on BOB'S FARM.


1555 - Bde Comd arrives and goes fwd to C Coy area for battle.


1630 - Arty concs begin 1635 hrs B Coy had passed through A Coy 1640 hrs A Coy area and gully under very hy mortar fire and at 1700 hrs a report from A Coy indicates that B Coy is held up in gully although a part of Coy gets into fm.  1750 hrs B Coy had reported back in res coy posns with Coy Comd a cas and two men missing.  Up till 1920 hrs bn area was under hy shelling and mortaring which was replied to by Bn and 13th Bn mortars on BOB'S FARM HELLFIRE and MUSTANG.  Shelldrake repeated arty concs MIKE 15 & 17 at 18128 fired on DF SOS 5380 EAST 200 x own cas during action were 1 offr wounded (Maj Keene) 3 ORs killed and 20 wounded (one died of wounds).  During rest of night there were a few shells on bn posn causing one fatal cas in C Coy and there was considerable SA fire and arty fire away to the Bn's right flank and further SW.  Appx II.


11th July 1944

Place: SE of Le Mesnil


Bde Comd arrives at 0845 hrs and spent two hours going round bn posns.  Conference at Bde HQ at 1000 hrs was cancelled.  Capt Went spent morning organising burial of 4 ORs killed.


1430 - Bde Maj visits bn area.  At 1500 hrs burial service for 4 ORs (L/Cs Coulthard, Price Ptes Evans & Williams) was held at RANVILLE burial service.


2000 - Lt-Col Bruce Harvey OC 225 Fd Amb visits bn.


1145 - 4 deserters into bn area from 9 Coy 858 Gren Regt.


1110 - Two sections of bde del pl arrive in bn area and go to right fwd pl of C Coy.


2215 - Infm from 5 Bde that 8th Bn would relieve at 1445 hrs on 12th.  During the day Capt N.S. Coppin went to take over comd of B Coy.  During the night infm received that 152 Bde on our right were doing propaganda broadcast.


2250 - Small raiding party (enemy) on SEAFORTHS front on our right caused considerable SA fire and retaliatory mortar fire in BOIS de BAVENT.


12th July 1944

Place: SE of Le Mesnil


In the early hours of the morning there was again a considerable amount of enemy shelling NOT confined to bn area and several Shellreps were sent in.  There were no bn cas.


0655 - Excitement provided by 5 x ME 109 flying very low over area and one was seen to be shot down by AA away to the WEST.


0800 - Bde Comd arrives for what has proved throughout the campaign to be an almost daily visit to front line troops.  These visits by the Bde Comd are tremendously appreciated by tps.


0830 - CO holds 'O' Gp conference giving details of relief by 8th Bn and 0900 hrs adv parties moved off under 2IC to rest area.  At 0935 hrs RE party (591 Para Sqn) under comd bn reverted to own comd.  Distressing news received that Maj Bliss of 12 Bn had died of wounds but heartening news that Maj Wood (591 Para Sqn RE) was well and that two men of the 13th Bn were found in CAEN.  By 1520 hrs the take over was complete and by 1610 hrs the bn was in rest area.


Place: NW of Amfreville


Visit by Capt Pearson (Airborne Div Security Fund) and Lt-Col ? Wilson, AAG Airborne Forces.


13th July 1944

Place: NW of Amfreville


Parties to cinema and theatre LUC-SUR-MER and LIONS-SUR-MER 1500-1900 hrs.  CO & 2IC visit HQ 2nd Army - several members of bn swam in River ORNE and on the whole a very restful day was spent by everybody.  Bde Comd 5 Para Bde visited bn at about 0900 hrs.


14th July 1944

Place: NW of Amfreville


Parties from bn to cinema and theatre - otherwise nothing - 2 IC to 30 Corps HQ - CO and 2 IC visit 1 SS Bde.


15th July 1944

Place: NW of Amfreville


Visit by Bde Comd 5 Bde - News received of immediate awards to members of bn.  Infm that bn must have bombproof slit-trenches by 0900 hrs 16th.


16th July 1944

Place: NW of Amfreville


C of E church service 1000 hrs - RCs visit BAYEUX Cathedral.  1315 hrs General Montgomery awards decorations to Airborne Div.


17th July 1944

Place: NW of Amfreville


Order in force that no traffic was allowed in Div area and no traffic allowed over brs.  CO interviews all parachute volunteers from rfts.  2 IC reads out to all coys "Current Notes from Overseas No 44".


1745 - CO to 'O' Gp conference 3 Bde HQ (Bn under comd 3 Para Bde in Rest area)


1815 - CO holds bn 'O' gp conference - Bn at 1 hrs notice to move RANVILLE area from 0700 hrs 18 July.


1830 - Coy comds recce RANVILLE area.


1930 - CO & 2 IC to dinner with Bde Comd 1 SS Bde.  OC HQ Coy Sigs Offr and IO with RSM recce RANVILLE area.


18th July 1944

Place: NW of Amfreville


0530 - Reveille.


0545 - Bombers pass over opening big offensive.


1115 - Enemy air attack area brs and RANVILLE - Bn at 1 hrs notice to move.


19th July 1944

Place: NW of Amfreville


Bn still at 1 hrs notice to move.  Sgt Fay makes report of gun posns near URVILLE spoken of by French civilian - reported to 3 Bde.  Comd 3 Bde visits bn.


20th July 1944

Place: NW of Amfreville


Bn at 2 hrs notice to move.  1700 hrs 5 Bde Comd visits bn.  1730 hrs CO to 3 Bde 'O' gp.  1820 hrs Bn 'O' gp meeting - Bn to move up to old posn in BOIS de BAVENT 1400 hrs 21 July.  "Stars in Battledress" concert party cancelled 1630 hrs through rain.


21st July 1944

Place: NW of Amfreville


Very wet day - 1200 8th Bn representative arrives - 1330 Bn adv party leave 1400 Bn marches off.  1530 hrs Bn arrives in new area - 1710 Bde Comd visits bn.


Place: SE of Le Mesnil


Pte Talmash awaiting trial by FGCM absents himself.  Pte Childs absents himself - one cas (Pte Besley) wounded from enemy shelling.


22nd July 1944

Place: SE of Le Mesnil


0900 - Bde Comd visited bn.  0930 hrs FW 190 shot down in 1st Cdn Para's area.


1000 - CO attends conference at Bde HQ.


1400 - CO 1st Cdn Para Bn visits bn.


1430 - Sapper offr reports to CO for lifting of mines near our slit trenches.


1500 - I.O. 1 Cdn Para visits Bn.  1430 hrs Int Sgt 3 Para Bde visits bn.


1800 - Bde Maj 5 Para & Lt-Col Harvey OC 225 Fd Amb visit bn.


23rd July 1944

Place: SE of Le Mesnil


CO takes new FOO (150 Fd Regt) round coy posns.


1000 - 2 IC attends Bde conference.  1115 hrs CO's 'O' gp meeting.


1530 - CO 1 Cdn Para visits bn - in the evening an arty and mortar strafing arranged by 1st Cdn had the arty programme cancelled.  During the night two enemy Ac strafed area west of bn posns and own A/c dropped leaflets intended for enemy lines.


24th July 1944

Place: SE of Le Mesnil


0815 - Bde Comd visits bn - CO attends conference Bde HQ 1000 hrs.  There was slight enemy shelling of posns during day.  Pte Hart C Coy wounded.  More sandbags arrive for making firing posns.  Mosquito sprays provided by Bde HQ.  Leaflets dropped 23/24 and 24/25 intended for enemy consumption.  CO refuses vacancies at Corps Rest Camp.


25th July 1944

Place: SE of Le Mesnil


0845 - Bde Comd visits Bn 0845 hrs.  No Bde conference.


1020 to 1730 - Bn area mortared at intervals by enemy.


1750 - CO attends conference at Bde.


1800 - One Pte wounded in the area.


2315 - Area SW of own posns bombed by enemy.  Green and yellow flares sent up from enemy F.D.L's.


26th July 1944

Place: SE of Le Mesnil


0130 to 0330 - Enemy MG fire at intervals in front of C Coy posns.


1015 - Bde Comd visits Bn.


1350 to 1355 - Enemy mortar bombs at intervals fall right of Bn posns.


1415 to 1420 - Enemy shells at intervals fall right of Bn posns.


1615 - Lt-Col of RA visits CO.


27th July 1944

Place: SE of Le Mesnil


0130 to 0155 - Area S.W. of Bn posns bombed by enemy.  Three heavy bombs landed in area of rear HQ.  No casualties.  Capt Young buried by debris but rescued through prompt action of his batman.  White flares put up from enemy F.D.L's.


0715 - 'A' Coy report unexploded Anti-personnel mines in Coy area.  These were destroyed by Sappers.


0830 - Bde Comd visits Bn.


1000 - CO attends Bde conference.


1730 - CO holds Bn 'O' gp.


2245 - Enemy aircraft overhead (one FW 190 recognised).  Green flares sent up by enemy F.D.L's.


28th July 1944

Place: SE of Le Mesnil


0930 - Bde Comd visits Bn.


1555 - CO of 8th Para Bn visits CO.


1735 - CO of 13th Para Bn visits CO.


2250 - FW 190 A/c flying low over posns.  About 6 bombs dropped SOUTH of area, some machine gunning.  White flares from enemy F.D.L's.


29th July 1944

Place: SE of Le Mesnil


0915 - Bde Comd visits Bn.


1200 - CO holds Bn 'O' gp.


1415 to 2115 - Bn area shelled and mortared intermittently.


2245 - 2 or 3 enemy A/c (FW 190) flew over posns.  Bombs dropped to the south.  White and green flares from enemy F.D.L's.


30th July 1944

Place: SE of Le Mesnil


0515 - Enemy A/c FW 190 over Bn posns.  Bombs believed dropped in south.


0815 - 13th Bn adv party arrives.


0930 - 13th Bn arrives.


0930 to 1015 - Posns handed over and Bn moves out.


1015 - Bde informed take over complete.


1017 - Bde Comd visits posns.


Place: NW of Amfreville


Bn in Rest Area near River ORNE.


31st July 1944

Place: NW of Amfreville


Bn in rest area.  CO attended conference Bde HQ 1130 and 1500 hrs.  Parties attended cinema shows at LUC-SUR-MER 0930 and 1500 hrs.  1900 hrs CO held bn 'O' gp conference and at 2000 hrs a recce of the BAS de RANVILLE area was carried out.



Month and year: August 1944

Commanding Officer : Lt. Col. R.G. Pine-Coffin


1st August 1944

Place: NW of Amfreville


0930 - Pty attended cinema show at LUC-SUR-MER.  Recce of new area carried out by Coy Comd's during morning.


1500 - Pty attended cinema show at DELIVRANDE.


1530 - Bn moved off to new area in LE BAS DE RANVILLE (Div Reserve)


Place: Le Bas de Ranville


1630 - Bde Comd visited bn.  Also 0900 hrs.


1945 - Bn completely in posn.


2130 - CO held conference.


2nd August 1944

Place: Le Bas de Ranville


0830 - Ptys leave for beach and cinema under Capt Archdale.


1100 - Adjt & QM attend conference at Bde HQ.


1830 - CO held Bn "O" Group.


3rd August 1944

Place: Le Bas de Ranville


0830 - Ptys left for beach and cinema.


0845 - Pty left for rest camp.


0915 - CO attends conference at Bde HQ.


1030 - Bn held practice manning of battle posns - bde comd inspected coys.


4th August 1944

Place: Le Bas de Ranville


0030 to 0115 - Enemy a/c flew over area.  Bombs dropped but none in Bn area.  Green flares sent up from area of enemy FDLs.


0915 - CO conference to Bde HQ.


2030 - CO at conference at Bde HQ.


5th August 1944

Place: Le Bas de Ranville


0830 - Parties leave for ENSA show at DELIVRANDE.


6th August 1944

Place: Le Bas de Ranville


1000 - C of E services held.  CO conference at Bde HQ.


1200 - CO held Bn O Group, also at 1730 and 2100.


2210 - Bde Comd visits CO.


7th August 1944

Place: Hauger


0630 - Bn moves off to new locations in HAUGER area.


1000 - Bn in posn.


1115 to 1215 - Bn area shelled and mortared.  Five cas (one fatal).


1230 - Bde Comd visited Bn.


1400 - IO and Mortar Sjt attend CM conference Bde HQ.


1730 - CO held Bn O Group.


1830 - Coy Comds commended tour of bn area.


8th August 1944

Place: Hauger


0500 - A Coy patrol returned.


0825 - Sounds of tracked vehs heard on road to B Coy's front.


0830 to 0915 - Bn area shelled and mortared.


0845 - Bde Comd visited bn.


0900 - CHARLIE OP established.


1000 - CO attended conference at Bde HQ.


1700 - CO holds O Group to arrange changeover of Coys and Pls.


2210 - B Coy report enemy tracked veh heard in area of rd EAST of LONGUENARL FARM.


2310 - A Coy report white and green very lights sent up from left and right of front over enemy FDLs.


9th August 1944

Place: Hauger


0500 - One OR wounded by grenade thrown by own tps at returning patrol.


1100 - CO holds discussion with outpost pl comd (Lt Thomas) and briefs C Coy afternoon patrols.


1300 - Two C patrols go out.


1430 - Enemy MG fire from at least 800 yds distance (mag bearing 65) on C Coy posns.  One man wounded.


1900 - Patrols report in.


1915 - Bde Comd visits bn.


2305 - Own mortar fire by order of CMO at target 145770.


10th August 1944

Place: Hauger


0215 - C Coy patrol reports in.  Two men missing.


0425 - Two missing men of patrol report in.


0830 - Bde Comd visits bn.


1515 - Patrol goes out.


1845 - CO holds O Group.


2230 - Fighting patrol under Lt Howard goes out.


2240 - A/C heard (? enemy) flying overhead NE/SW.  One A/C dropped row of flares some distance NE of Bn posns.  One a/c dropped red flare.  A/C caught in searchlight beam intersections for about [entry ends].


11th August 1944

Place: Hauger


0305 - Enemy firing heard to left of outpost.


0330 - Four men of patrol (Sjt Padly and 3) reported in.  Sjt and two of this party wounded.  (One returned for duty) Lt Howard and four ORs missing.  Patrol was machine gunned by enemy at close range from 146755.  This patrol not dressed in airborne eqpt.


0535 - Six medical personnel reported in.


0540 - Two bren teams reported in.


0630 - Patrol went out under Sjt Owen C Coy 142755, to try to locate any of missing who might be wounded and trying to get back.  This party was relieved at 0815 hrs by a sec of B Coy.


0815 - Sjt Norman of B Coy together with IO patrolled to try and locate missing personnel.  Penetrated to 146753 and NORTH to 145754 and later observed from area of small hut 145755.  Nothing was located and patrol returned at 1200 hrs.  Relieving patrol under Sjt Green was mortared at 143754 and sustained two cas, one wounded and one slightly wounded.  At 1000 hrs CO attended patrol conference at Bde HQ.


1900 - Bde Comd visited bn.  During the night, bn was not to any patrolling but 12 Bn were sending out standing patrols to 143754, 144755, 145756, Capt Archdale joined C Coy from A.  During the day rfts arrived from England (13 ORs under Major Taylor J.N., M.C).  A large proportion of these were specialists and were absorbed into HQ Coy.  They were all residues.


12th August 1944

Place: Hauger


During night 11/12, MG had been heard to left and right of our outposts, but there were no incidents on our front.


0900 - Adv recce of Belgian Gp arrived in bn for preliminary take over.


1000 - 2 IC attends conference at Bde HQ.  12 Bn reported that the enemy during the 11th had moved an MG fwd to 145755 which remained in posn night of 11/12.  Infm also received that our arty was going to "stonk" area 148750 during the day, suspected an OP there.  Adv parties moved off during the day under 2IC to recce area LE BAS DE RANVILLE.  Order for handover issued by CO and during the afternoon, adv parties of Belgian NCOs came to bn and went to their opposite Nos.  The Bde Comd visited bn during evening.


2100 - CO requested 13 Bn to patrol wood left of our outpost posn as this constituted a definite gap where the enemy could approach.  13 Bn agreed to sweep this wood immediately and to leave a patrol for the night.


13th August 1944

Place: Hauger


During morning, handover to 1 Belgian Ind Coy took place and bn moved to new area BAS DE RANVILLE.


1700 - CO held offrs conference after attending Div Comds conference at 1100 hrs.  The jist of all these conferences was a "gingering up" in the Div to stamp out slackness, and the Div Comd's letter was reproduced to Coys.  Details of Bde Comd's inspection on 15th given to Coys by CO.  A rearrangement of offrs was ordered.  Major Rogers reverted to Capt as 2IC A Coy, Capt Mills, Theobald, and Archdale all reverted to Lieuts, - Mills remained as IO.  Theobald relinquished appt of Sigs Offr and went to B Coy.  Archdale remained in C Coy.  RC Mass held in Ranville Church.


1000 - CO attended conference at Bde HQ.


1430 - CO held a conference with Coy Comds re trg in this area.


14th August 1944

Place: Le Bas de Ranville


1000 - Day spent in cleaning up and adm check in preparation for Bde Comd's inspection on 15th.  CO attended the usual daily conf at Bde HQ.


2100 - QM attended conf at Bde HQ.  Bde Major arrived and explained that it was suspected that an attack might be made on the lockgates at OUISTREHAM.  The CO went off to recce with Div Comd at 2115 and A Coy were given a warning order to move.  The whole bn was at one hr's notice to move by MT.


2200 - CO gave out his orders - A Coy left by MT 2230 take up a def posn on the lockgate.


2215 - Bde Comd visited the bn.


15th August 1944

Place: Le Bas de Ranville


0930 - Bde Comd's general inspection of the bn at 0930.  A Coy still in posn near lock gates.  Instrs were issued for Inter-Coy football match (result of sports meeting held on 14 Aug).  From evening standto B Coy were at 10 mins notice to move to sp A Coy.


16th August 1944

Place: Le Bas de Ranville


0915 - A Coy relieved by a Coy of 12 Bn - arrive back with Bn 1015.  2IC issued instrs re use of trg area.  HQ Coy went to LUC-SUR-MER for bathing and cinema.


1800 - Int Conf held at Div.


17th August 1944

Place: Le Bas de Ranville


0830 - News received by IO that enemy was withdrawing on Div front and that Div was following up.  Bde at 1 hr's notice.


1100 - CO to Bde HQ for conference.  News received that 3 Bde had reached TROARN and BURES and crossed river.


1620 - After recce by IO, bn to area rd triangle 140703 by tpt.  Warning order received from LO Bn to move off at 0430 18th.


18th August 1944

Place: Troarn


0755 - Bn marches off, reaches TROARN and crossed river.  In posn from 205701.


1840 - Warning order received at 1840 for Bde attack and Bn moved off at 2330.


19th August 1944

Road shelled whilst moving up to the start line (2 ORs killed 2 wounded).


0120 - CO informed plan changed.  Bn advances across rly and contacts enemy at 0550.  Advance continues to PUTOT-EN-AUGE and completed.  Enemy cas - 14 killed, 50 PWs.


0945 - 13 Para Bn pass through posns.  Intermittent shelling during night.


20th August 1944

Patrol sent out.  C Coy moves to search BONNEMONT.  Village cleared with very little opposition.  One PW sent in.  C Coy stays in adv posns.


21st August 1944

Place: Bonnemont


Bn moves to Chateau 248721 and joins C Coy.  Orders issued for move at 0215 hrs 22nd.


22nd August 1944

Bn moves by tpt to 418013 and then by march via "TAUNTON" 468017 to occupy high ground in area 5000 (PONT L'EVEQUE).


1500 - Bn moved to posns nearer river and relieved 12 Bn who retired for a rest.  Intermittent shelling during night.


23rd August 1944

0830 - C Coy moved into PONT L'EVEQUE by jeeps until under fire and then on foot.  Cleared town as far as rly stn then ordered to withdraw.  1 NCO killed several ORs wounded.


24th August 1944

C Coy patrols report town clear.  Bn moved to join C Coy and then whole bn continued by march route preceded by B Coy cycle patrol which contacted enemy at ST BENOIT Xrds 583068.  Rest of the bn reached blown br 575056.  A and B Coys continued over rly and took high ground either side of road.  Bn HQ moved up to 579059 and bn est firm base in area.


25th August 1944

Bn ordered to take up defensive posn and Coys moved fwd to Xrds and village.


2130 - Warning order issued for move following morning.


26th August 1944

Place: Pont Audemer


0445 - Bn moved off by march route to PONT AUDEMER preceded by Armd Recce to catch up with enemy.  Town reached at 1130 and reported clear by Recce but brs blown.  Bn took up posn in town A and B Coys on river edge.


1230 - Enemy mortar bombs fell on town.


1600 - Bn came under comd of 56 Inf Bde (49 Div).


2130 - Orders issued for move next morning to rest area.


27th August 1944

0645 - Enemy projector fired at towns, several fires started.  Bn moved off in tpt to rest areas in two parties at 1015 and 1215.


28th August 1944

Place: South of Honfleur


Bn HQ area 5412, A and B Coys pay recreational visit to TROUVILLE by tpt (start 1215).


29th August 1944

Place: South of Honfleur


0930 - HQ and C Coy visit to TROUVILLE by tpt.  Orders issued for bn's return to UK.


30th August 1944

Place: South of Honfleur


1400 - A and B Coys pay visit to TROUVILLE by tpt.  Remainder of bn had hot baths and change of laundry under Div arrangements.


31st August 1944

Place: South of Honfleur


2230 - Patrol 8 briefed by IO for recce following morning at 0600, of large wood west of BEUZEVILLE, in search of enemy harbouring there.



Month and year: September 1944

Commanding Officer : Lt. Col. R.G. Pine-Coffin


1st September 1944

Place: South of Honfleur


0600 - Patrol and IO went out on recce of wood WEST of BEUZEVILLE and returned at 1000 hrs.  All infm was false as no trace was found of any enemy in wood or of any recent occupation.  Bn adv pty to UK moved off at 1100 hrs.


2nd September 1944

Place: South of Honfleur


0815 - Bn proceeded by march route to Bde assembly area and from there at 1030 by tpt via PONT L'EVEQUE, DOZULE, TROARN, PEGASUS BR, DOUVRES to area FERIERS where they debussed.  Journey continued by tpt at 1800 to transit camp area ARROMANCHE.  Bn had hot meal and spent night in camp.


3rd September 1944

0615 - Bn MT pty left Rest area at 0615 hrs.


1615 - Bn moved off by march route to embarkation point ARROMANCHE and was conveyed by troopship "EMPIRE JAVELIN" by LCT.  Ship spent night in anchorage.


4th September 1944

0700 - Ship took up posn in convoy which set sail at 0800.  Heavy swell encountered during channel crossing, convoy arrived and anchored off COWS IofW.


5th September 1944

Place: Southampton


0945 - Ship moved into SOUTHAMPTON harbour anchored for an hour then moved into quayside.  RASC band on quayside to welcome ship.  1220 Bn commenced disembarkation.  Hot meal had in shed and train boarded.  Train left at 1345 and arrived BULFORD siding 1515.  Bn marched to barracks.


6th September 1944

Place: Bulford


0900 - Check of all bn's kit and stores commenced.  One OR of Bn proceeded to London to make recording for broadcasts.


7th September 1944

Place: Bulford


0900 - REME visited Bn to inspect instruments and weapons.


8th September 1944

Place: Bulford

Bn proceeded on 10 days' leave.  Subsequently extended to 14 days.


12th September 1944

Place: Bulford


Bn received orders to mobilize.


21st to 22nd September 1944

Place: Bulford


Bn returned from leave.





7th (L.I.) Bn The Parachute Regt. O.O. No.1

28 May 44.

Ref maps FRANCE 1:250,000 Sheets 40/16 NE, SE, SW, NW.  Sheets 40/18 SE, SW.

               FRANCE 1:100,000 Sheet 7F.



1.  Enemy

        See Int. Summary attchd.

2.  Own Tps

        (a) 6 Airborne Div with 1 SS Bde under comd is protecting the left flank of 3 Br Inf Div by denying to the enemy the use of the area between the R.ORNE and DIVES NORTH of the rd TROARN 1667 - SANNERVILLE 1367 - COLOMBELLES 0770.

        (b) 5 Para Bde and att tps is seizing intact the brs 098748 and 104746 and securing a br head on the EAST and WEST banks.

        (c) 3 Para Bde and att tps are carrying out harassing ops on the NORTH of the Div sector until relieved by 1 SS Bde.  On relief 3 Para Bde is protecting the EAST flank of Div sector.

        (d) 1 SS Bde (less 4 Commando) are clearing enemy posn at STE AUBIN D'ARQUENAY 0877 and moving to relieve 3 Para Bde.

        (e) 8 Br Inf Bde is part of 3 Br Inf Div and will relieve 5 Para Bde on brs 098748 and 104746 NOT before H plus 5.

        (f) 6 Airlanding Bde Gp is landing at H plus 12 hrs and securing a firm base in the area ST HONORINE LA CHARDONERETTE 0971.

        (g) A composite force under COL R.G. PARKER is establishing a base in area EMIEVILLE 1265 and patrolling offensively towards TROARN 1667, VIMONT 1561 and CAEN.

        (h) Add tps under comd 7 Para Bn:- Det 591 Para Sqn RE (6 men), Coup de Main Force (see para 5, for part of op only).



3.  7 Para Bn will:-

        (a) Secure intact and hold brs 098748 104746.

        (b) Establish a br head on WEST bank of CANAL DE CAEN.

        (c) Destroy or neutralise enemy bty at 107765.



4.  General.

        Seizure of brs by Coup de Main Force - quick reinforcement of coup de Main Force - crossing of obstacles by existing brs (or other means if brs blown) and occupation of br head posns.

5.  Phases.

        (a) Coup de Main op.

        (b) Drop and form up.

        (c) Crossing of R.ORNE.

        (d) Crossing of CANAL DE CAEN.

        (e) Occupation of br head posns.


        (a) Comd.  MAJOR R.J. HOWARD 2 OXF BUCKS L.I.

        (b) Tps.  One coy and two pls 2 OXF BUCKS LI with, under comd, one pl 249 Airldg Fd Coy RE.

        (c) Tasks. i.  To seize intact brs over CANAL and R.ORNE at 098748 and 104746 and hold them until relieved by 7 Para Bn.

                        ii.  To remove all charges and cut or remove all demolition circuits on the brs.

                        iii.  To secure br head on WEST bank of CANAL to cover crossing of the CANAL by 7 Para Bn.

                        iv.  To prepare ferries for crossing of R.ORNE and CANAL by 7 Para Bn if brs are destroyed.

        (d) Landing.  3 gliders will land in immediate vicinity of each br and as close to brs as possible.

        (e) Time.  Gliders land P minus 5 hrs.

        (f) Control.  Coup de Main Party comes under comd 7 Para Bn on arrival of 7 Para Bn at the EAST br.

        (g) L.O.  LIEUT MACDONALD will fly with Coup de Main Party and contact OC 7 Para Bn at Bn RV by P minus 4 hrs 15 minutes (see para 7 (o)).


        (a) DZ  DZ "N.

        (b) Time.  P minus 4 hrs 30 minutes.

        (c) Pathfinder Det.  LIEUT ROGERS and 4 ORs.  Drops - P minus 5 hrs.  Tasks - To prepare RV for rem of bn and block approach to DZ from PONT TOURNANT.  Eqpt - Op eqpt (less packs) plus bugle, Aldis lamp (with green mask) and coy direction signs.  Det will rejoin Bn when Bn has formed up.

        (d) DZ Protection Force.  One offr and one pl 13 Para Bn.  Drops P minus 5 hrs and blocks road approaches as folls:- Rd junc 116749, X rds 125739, X rds 116736.  Adv Bn HQ drops with DZ Prot Force.

        (e) Flight Table.  Attchd at Appendix A.

        (f) Run in.  NE to SW.

        (g) RV  SOUTH side of COPSE 110745.

        (h) DZ drill.  Normal.

        (i) Control Pt.  NE corner of COPSE 114745.

        (j) Aids  Flashing Aldis lamp (green), bugle, coy direction signs.

        (k) Bren gps.  Bren gps will NOT remain on DZ as in normal Bn DZ drill.

        (l) Kit bags.  Kit bags painted white (containing ferry material) will be brought to RV by any tps seeing them on the DZ.  Two men will carry each kit bag to RV.

        (m) Speed.  Speed off the DZ is ESSENTIAL TO SUCCESS.

        (n) Bicycles.  Bicycles will be brought into RV by those finding them as in normal Bn DZ drill.

        (o) L.O.  LIEUT MACDONALD will report to OC 7 Para Bn at RV at P minus 4 hrs 15 minutes with the foll infm:-

                i. Whether brs have been captured by Coup de Main Party.

                ii.  Whether brs are intact or not.

                iii.  Whether Coup de Main Party has gained footing on WEST bank of CANAL.

                iv.  Location of Coy HQ.


        (a) Preliminary.  C Coy to move from RV when complete or when at not less than 80% strength at discretion of OC Coy.  OC C Coy will move off without further orders and will infm CO by runner when he has moved.


                        i. Annihilation of br garrison at 104746.

                        ii. Seizing of br if intact.

                        iii. Recce of crossing area if br is blown.

        (b) Signals.

                "Garrison destroyed but br blown"  2" Mort parachute flare.  Victory "V" on bren gun.  Victory "V" on bugle or hunting horn.  If this signal is repeated it will not be so repeated at intervals of LESS than one minute.

                "Garrison destroyed and br fit for crossing by inf."  Same signals as above but given twice in quick succession.

        (c) C Coy will remain as firm base on EAST bank of R. ORNE until relieved by Rear Bn HQ (see para 8 (c)) who are later relieved by A Coy (see para 10 (b)).

        (d) Route to river - As given at briefing.

        (e) Order of march - B Coy (bridging & recce party).  Adv Bn HQ.  A Coy.  Rear Bn HQ (following in own best time and relieving C Coy at 104746 until, in turn, relieved by A Coy (see para 10 (b)).

        (f) Crossing of river.

                i. By br at 104746 if intact or only partially destroyed.

                ii. By dinghy ferry if br is destroyed.


        (a) Assault on br garrison.  A Coy will assault br garrison at 098748.  Route and start line as given at briefing.

        (b) Covering fire for assault.  LIEUT MACDONALD and two Bren gps of C Coy will cross R.ORNE with B Coy and provide covering fire from left flank.  They will move up to EAST bank of CANAL as left protection after success of A Coy.

        (c) Signals - as for crossing of R.ORNE (see para 8 (b)).

        (d) B Coy.  Move to right of A Coy's start line and under cover of A Coy's assault, cross river in recce boats and destroy enemy posns on WEST end of br.

        (e) C Coy.  (after relief by Rear Bn HQ see para    will move to area of A Coy's start line and remain there as reserve.

        (e) Crossing of CANAL.

                i. By br at 098748 if intact or only partially destroyed.

                ii. By dinghy ferry if br is destroyed.

        (f) Dinghy ferries.  B Coy and Det 591 Para Sqn RE will be ferry coy and will carry/inflate/launch dinghies and recce boats, recce crossings, establish ferries and provide rt flank protection for both crossings.


        (a) Ground vital to def of br head.  LE PORT and wooded escarpment area 095750.

        (b) A Coy (less one pl) area 093745.  One pl A Coy - Area between brs 098748 and 104746.  (One sec of this pl relieves Rear Bn HQ at br 104746 - part of this sec to be placed EAST of the R.ORNE until relieved by 12 Para Bn.)  B Coy (less one pl) - Area wooded escarpment 095750 and LE PORT.  One pl B Coy - WEST end of br 098748.  Bn HQ - 098751.  C Coy (less two pls) - with Bn HQ.  R.A.P. - Bldgs 095746.  Morts. - 097746.  A/Tk. - One sec A Coy, two secs B Coy.  MMG - Brigaded.  One sec each A & B Coys.

        (c) Battle Outposts. - to be found by C Coy.

                i. Strength. One pl.  Location. 107765.  Tasks. Destroy or neutralise enemy bty.  Occupy the bty posn.

                ii. Strength. One sec.  Location. On SW approach to X rds 093766.

                iii. Strength. One sec and pl sgt.  Location. Wood 076758.

                iv. Strength. One sec, pl HQ (less pl sgt).  Location. Rd junc 086746.

                        Tasks for all battle outposts.  To infect approaches to the br head area and by offensive action force early deployment and delay enemy colns.

                        Withdrawal orders for all battle outposts.  No withdrawal except on orders from Bn HQ.  When ordered to do so outposts will withdraw on Bn HQ.

11.  Arty.  FOB and party will move with Rear Bn HQ and will est OP in br head area.  Sp available (after first light).  One cruiser (HMS MAURITIUS).

12.  Construction of defs.  Posns will be sited and constructed with a view to repelling inf and tk attack after first light.

13.  Priority of work.

        i. Construction of deep slit trenches.

        ii. Mining of rd approaches to br head.

14.  A.A.

        (a) Aircraft will not be engaged unless they are committing a hostile act or their markings definitely establish their hostile identity.

        (b) Fire will NOT be opened on hostile aircraft closely pursued by our fighters.

15.  MMG.  All Bn MMGs are brigaded under LIEUT BOWLER, 7 Para Bn.


        (a) Passage of 1 SS Bde through br head.

        (b) Relief of bn in br head.

17.  Passage of 1 SS Bde through br head.  1 SS Bde expect to pass through br head about H plus 3 to H plus 4.  45 RM COMMANDO will cross CANAL by improvised crossing about 104760; remainder 1 SS Bde will cross by existing brs or improvised crossings near sites of existing brs.  Route.  ST AUBIN D'ARQUENAY 0976 - LE PORT - br 098748 - br 104746.

18.  Relief of Bn in br head.  Bn will be relieved in br head area by 8 Inf Bde NOT before H plus 5 hrs.  On relief Bn will come into Bde res in area WOOD 105740.

        (b) The leading elements of 8 Brit Inf Bde will be one Coy 2 E Yorks R with one Sqn 13/18 H (SHERMAN TKS and ARMD CARS).  They will approach br head from ST AUBIN D'ARQUENAY and the leading coy MAY be contacted before 1 S.S. Bde.


ADMIN.  See Admin Order No 1 (issued separately).



19.  HQs  Div 106737.  Bde 110, moving to buildings 106741.

20.  L.O.  LIEUT DUTTON, LO 1 SS Bde will jump with Rear Bn HQ and will remain with this party until br head is secured; he will then join the battle outpost on the SW approach to X rds 093766 and contact leading elements 1 SS Bde at first opportunity.

21.  Recognition signals.

        (a) With all Brit tps (incl 1 SS Bde) - Celanese triangles.

        (b) By 1 SS Bde (less 45 Commando) - Piper, green berets, Union Jacks.

        (c) By 45 Commando - Green berets, Union Jacks.

        (d) By C Sqn INNS OF COURT - Blue pennants, celanese triangles.  Yellow smoke if shot at.

        (e) By 7 Para Bn - Bugle, scrimmed helmets.  Union Jacks.

        (g) By 2 E YORKS - Bugle, Union Jacks, Black Flag with white rose (one carried in each coy) scrimmed helmets, garnished pack haversacks.  NOTE: 2 E YORKS helmet is one of the new type and is deeper at the rear than the normal inf type steel helmet.  2 E YORKS will sound "Defaulters" as a bugle recognition call.  The reply will also be "Defaulters".

        (h) By 13/18 H - SHERMAN tks marked with usual five pointed star - Each tk will bear bold number in RED painted on turret.  Numbers will be from 20 to 40.  Tks will display yellow pennant and smoke if fired at.  Tks may be preceded by Armd Cars also bearing usual five pointed star.

22.  Wireless Silence.  Wireless silence until H hour or until enemy are engaged on specific objective.

23.  Enemy line.  On landing all existing enemy line will be cut.  Exchanges, buried cable and test points will not be damaged.

24.  Pigeons.  Pigeons for emergency comns to base will be carried (number not yet notified).

25.  Tac R Broadcast.  4790 mcs - every second clock hour commencing H plus 1.

26.  Pass words.  Pass words and answers will be issued daily.  Pass words are laid down by 1 Corps.

27.  Line Comn.  Lines will be laid to bns from Bde HQ as soon as HQs are established.  Line to 7 Para Bn will be first priority.  Bns and Bde HQ will be on the same line in the early stages therefore the foll ringing code will be used:- Bde HQ 1 Ring.  7 Para Bn 2 Rings.  12 Para Bn 3 Rings.  13 Para Bn 4 Rings.  All subscribers 5 Rings.  Separate lines to each Bn will be laid as soon as possible.

28.  Code words.

        HAM   Br at BENOUVILLE 098748 captured intact.

        JACK   Br at BENOUVILLE 098748 captured but blown.

        JAM   Br at RANVILLE 104746 captured intact.

        LARD   Br at RANVILLE 104746 captured but blown.

        VICE   Enemy posn 107765.

29.  Frequencies.

        38 Set.  F22 8.1-8.2.  F25 8.4-8.5.  F28 8.7-8.8.  F17 7.6-7.7.  F23 8.2-8.3.  F26 8.5-8.6.  F20 7.9-8.0

        18 Set.  F13 7.2-7.3.

30.  P hr.  Civil twilight.


[Signed Pine-Coffin]

Lieut. Col.

Comdg 7 (L.I.) B, The Paratp Regt.

In the Field.



APP "A" to O.O. No.1



Serial No.

Aircraft Chalk No.

Personnel Carried.

Containers and Contents.

Chute / Evenlite Colour.

Cycles to be thrown.

Spare Dinghies cycle chutes.

Spare falls and cycle chutes.




"C" Coy

6 (Packs)





All containers to be jettisoned at end of DZ




6 (Packs)









9 (6 for trolleys 3 for res mors)









4 (Trolleys)









9 (3 spare PIAT & Bomb, 2 res mors, 2 mor bombs. 1 Res Mk VIII Z. 1 PIAT bombs.


























Advanced Bn HQ


















"B" Coy































































"A" Coy































































Rear Bn HQ and Attached










8 (Mortars)





Containers to be released by last man's strop




8 (Mortars)









8 (MGs)









8 (MGs)












































        (a) Time of arrival at airfd - To be notified later.

        (b) Draw Chutes, fit and return to store - D-2.

        (c) Emplaned by: To be notified later.

        (d) Take off: To be notified later.

        (e) Time of drop - P-4 hrs.

        (f) One additional spare fall will be strapped to the cycles thrown from serials 4, 9, 14, 20, 24 and 27.

        (g) The two spare falls shown against serials 26, 28, 30 and 32 will be lashed in pairs to a cycle chute.

        (h) Water steralization outfits will be strapped to the cycles thrown from serials 3, 12, 19 and 31.

        (i) Order of forfeiture of aircraft is serials 32, 31, 11, 22, 7, 4, 9 and 18.



7th Bn (LI) The Parachute Regiment O.O. No.1.




The area in which 6 Airborne Div will operate is the CAEN "campagne" in the department of Calvados in the province of NORMANDY.  In general the country is gently undulating with numerous orchards and woods - open country is cultivated fields.  The RIVER ORNE and the CANAL DE CAEN ALA MER form a double waterway in a flat marshy valley which to the WEST slopes up to some open undulating country studded with small villages.  To the EAST the ground rises up to a thickly wooded area and thence down to the valley of the RIVER DIVES which is artificially flooded by the enemy to a depth of 9".  The roads in the area all centre on Caen - about 15' - 20' tarmac surface generally lined with thick hedges on banks and ditches.  A single track narrow gauge rly along the EAST of the rd from CAEN - BENOUVILLE (097747).  The RIVER ORNE is tidal below CAEN and its width is from 125' - 150' with tree lined banks.  Banks 6' - 10' slope quite steeply.  The villages in the area, especially RANVILLE (110736) and BENOUVILLE (097747) consists of small cottages and farmsteads which straggle over an area up to 1 miles in length.  Each has its church and chateau.  Most open spaces in the area have been obstructed with anti airldg obstacles.



Although a wholesale evacuation of civilians has been carried out by the enemy, there will be a considerable number of essential workers left in farms, etc.  They have been cruelly treated by the enemy but at the same time they will have been bombed by the Allies, so in the early stages there may be some anti allied feeling but in general it may be expected that the population will be ready to do anything to help in a small way against the BOCHE without big scale co-operation.  Separate order will be issued for the treatment of civilian refugees.  The NORMAN is a horse dealer and a notorious cider drinker and always he loves success in anyone and appreciates a sharp deal but is a stickler for justice and should be handled justly and frankly but firmly.


3.  TOWNS.

BENOUVILLE (097747) has a population of 589 spread over small farmsteads with a big chateau which commands a good view SW and NE along the ORNE VALLEY.  The Mayor's name is M. THOMAS.  RANVILLE (110736) stretches over 1 miles along each side of a valley running SE from the ORNE VALLEY.  The distinctive feature is the church (rather large) with separate bell tower.  There is good cover in the village.



        Def Policy  The enemy's method of def on NORTH coast of FRANCE is to hold the coast line with coastal divs, which have often a very long coastal sector to defend.  Since ROMMEL took over the defence of the Army gp in the NORTH especially between ST MALO and CALAIS there has been a reshuffle resulting in the strengthening of the coastal divs with "build up" divs 20-50 miles inland which are often Pz Divs held as mobile counter attack force to be committed when the enemy has appreciated our intentions.  The Coastal area is held by coy strong points, often constructed round battery posns (incl German Navy GD Bty and GAP Flak Btys) which are mined and wired.  The general layout is to have two Regts along the coast with the third in res (if the Div has a third regt) some 5 miles inland.  The coastal regts similarly have two bns fwd on the coast and one in res about three miles inland.  The hy weapons of the hy Coy are sub-allotted to the three rifle coys and are often in fixed posns.  Coastal divs are in addition allotted a sqn of tks of obsolescent type to assist local counterattack.  Each bn is likely to have a duty coy standing by which could be on the move within 15 mins of the alert going and in the case of the res bns this coy will probably have some form of tpt (possibly requisitioned).  Aerial recce will have revealed some time before the seaborne invasion starts that it is about to start so that a "state of alarm" will probably exist - meaning that tps remain fully dressed to turn out to "Action Stations" on the alert which is given by a bugle.  The recent strengthening of defs in the NORTH of FRANCE include concrete casemating of gun posns and the construction of concrete bunkers as amn and personnel shelters.  Areas suitable for airldg have been obstructed by poles or mines.  There is no trace of areas having been mined in the 6 Air Div area.

        TPS LIABLE TO BE MET WITH  (Locations on Map enlargement in briefing Room.)

                711 INF DIV.  Disposns. Coastal sector between ORNE estuary and SEINE estuary.  STR. Probably only two regts both fwd on coast.  Only about 75% strong in personnel 100% in sp weapons - has a cyclist coy as recce element.  PERSONNEL. Low category men 35-40 or Young soldiers - may have proportion of Russians, etc.  COUNTER ATTACK. May have counter attack force of sqn (about 10) R.35 FRENCH TKS.  ROLE. Probably containing - backed up by very strong arty posns on ground EAST of RIVER DIVES.  Estimated at 40% static and 15% counter attack - All known div signs reproduced in Appendix to this order.

                716 INF DIV.  DISPOSNS. Occupies Coastal area from incl FRANCEVILLE (1579) to CARETNAN (    ).  Consists of Two Regts 736 & 726 both fed on coast.  Possibly a third Regt which may consist of Russian Bns - The 642 "Eastern Bn" is believed to be under comd 716 Div and HQ believed in Chateau de BEAUREGARD (0772) 736 Regt (HQ at BIEVILLE (0674)) has two bns fwd on the coast and a reserve bn in the area immediately NE of CAEN.  The Div has been in present location since May, 1942.  It has a large proportion of foreigners and of FRENCH, BRITISH and POLISH WEAPONS.  Its capabilities compared with a normal field div are assessed at 40% in a static role and 15% in a counterattack role.  The Div is believed to have a small counterattack force of obsolete German and French tks which are believed to be in the BIEVILLE (0674) - BEUVILLE (0675) area.

                352 INF DIV.  Have moved up on to the coast to the WEST of 716.  It has 3 regts - str unknown with little arty.  Consists of elements of Divs reforming after Russia with proportion of foreigners, men aged 35-40 and young soldiers.  It is believed to have an allotment of half tracked vehicles making it fairly mobile for counterattack.  Part of it may be used in CAEN area, and could be there within three hours of the alarm being given.

                21 PZ DIV.  Moved recently from the area of RENNES (    ) to area FLERS-FALAISE (1436).  Now believed to be over a fairly wide area incl CAEN-LISIEUX (    ).  It is probably organised to operate in Independent Battle Gps.  The Div is known to have 300 tks, about 90 of which are PANTHERS, with Mk III and Mk IV and possibly French Somuas.  Battle gps of this div would probably be able to engage beach defs before midday of D day.  Its arty regt has at least one bty of SP guns and a mixed bty with a proportion of French Schneider 155mm.  It is not clear what particular form its recce unit takes, so m/cs, light and heavy armd Cs, armd OP and half tracked armd C may be expected.  Tps are reported to be smart and elite aged 18-30 years with a percentage of Poles.  The Div may well operate in three battle gps each comprised of about:- 100 tks incl Panthers, One - two bns of lorried inf, 14 guns incl SP, 14 A Tks guns.  The strongest Battle gp would have the Armd Recce Unit which is not normally split.  The Role of this div is probably counterattack one in the CAEN area - elements of its battle gps could be in the Div area soon after first light on D Day.  The Div is not likely to be committed as a whole until our intentions are quite clear, and it is not likely to attack at night, although it may move at night.

                12 SS PZ DIV "HITLERJUGEND".  Is occupying a wide area SOUTH and SE of LISIEUX and is probably holding crossings over RIVER SEINE.  This div also will probably operate in separate Battle Gps.  It is believed to be up to str in personnel and eqpt, and therefore have a tk regt incl a bn of PANTHERS.  Its arty will incl some SP guns, probably, HORNETS and FERDINANDS.  This div is believed to be the best now in the WEST and consists of young NAZI fanatics with a nucleus of NCOs who have seen service in RUSSIA.  It will probably not be committed before 21 Pz but will be held to be used as the situation demands.

                17 SS PZ DIV "GOTZ VON BERLICHINGEN.  Reported to have moved from the THOURB area to area NORTH of RIVER LOIRE.  It may have moved into the area of RENNES vacated by the 21 Pz Div.  Previously reported to have only one tk Bn (48 PANTHERS) or one assault gun bty, it may now have a tk regt which would mean that it has been increased to a Pz Div although probably not up to full str.

                Other res Pz Divs  179 Pz Trg Div in the area BEAVVALS-NANTES.  1 SS Pz Div which moved from Antwerp area to vacated THOUARS area.  3 and 5 Para Divs are believed to be operating in a ground role as light fairly mobile Divs in BRITTANY.  The Para Trng establishment at AMIENS might be able to provide two or three Para Bns which could operate in an airborne role in the Div Area for Counterattack to regain vital areas.  Certain Units will probably have 'Anti Parachutist Commandos' detailed of Pl or Coy strength, in a high state of readiness and equipped with M.T.

                G.A.F.  HQs of certain LAA btys are situated in CAEN.

                NAVAL.  There are about 250 naval personnel in CAEN but not arty or AA Units.  There are two or three Minesweeping trawlers based on Ouistreham, and R boats put in there.  These vessels might be used up the canal de CAEN according to necessity.

                DETAILS OF STRONG POINTS.  Details of the brs at 105747 and 099748 and strong pt at 108765 and details of defs at RANVILLE (110736) are shown on the latest air phs annotation.  Other strong pts in this area are at 094767, 132765, 089717 (W.T. Installation), 072713 (W.T. Installation) ?, 068717 Hutted camp and amn dump ?  Details of these posns are available in defence overprint in briefing room.

                ARTY.  4 gun bty reported at QUARRY 114750 is probably a dummy posn - no sign of activity.  Other bty posns capable of firing into Bde area are at - 076782 - a tp of div med bty.  103779 - a tp of Static Med Guns.  117797 - 6 med French hows.  155776 - 4 gun med bty mined & wired.  246780 - rocket projector bty ?  257809 - 6 gun hy bty.  Details of these and other posns available from def overprint.  The morale of tps manning army CD btys - normally men of age about 40 - is likely to be low.  There will probably be horses in the area of div btys.

                COMNS  Buried civilian cable runs from BAYEUX - CAEN - PONT L'EVEQUE with a branch to OUISTREHAM and LUC-sur-MER.  Other civil lines are overhead.  Mil lines are usually buried.  There is a RADAR Sta at HOULGATE 255812 and a sigs sta at LONGUEVAL 090716.


                        WATER.  Deep limestone wells are the chief source - these are usually safe - streams and wells near villages likely to be polluted by sewage.  There are frequent water towers in the area into which water is pumped from wells (examples at BENOUVILLE at ST AUBIN D'ARQUENAY).  Enemy action will probably be to cut off sups to towers, demolish reservoirs and seal wells, but it is not likely he will achieve 100% destruction of sups in inland villages.

                        ELECTRICITY.  Main sup plant for area is at CAEN.

                        DUMPS, ETC.  104760 - petrol pump for refuelling motor launches - capacity 500,000.  BLAINVILLE 0873 - shipbuilding yard building tankers for German Navy.  BIEVILLE 046738 - There is a possible amn dump in woods SW.  At 044730 there may be a SAA dump and the bldgs at 055739 may be a dump.

        LATE INFM.  711 Div is reported to have an allotment of Assault Arty.  Deduction: If on coastal div received assault arty then it is possible that a similar allotment will be made to 716 Div.  Infm has been received of three other Divs in the NORTH of FRANCE - 91 Inf Div, 84 Inf Div and 85 Inf Div.  These are fairly mobile divs, probably 50% lorryborne with two or three sqns of tanks in sp e.g. 84 Inf Div is believed to have 70 FRENCH tks.  Of these Divs, 91, is believed to be to the WEST of 716 and in the area round the SOUTH of the CHERBOURG peninsula: it might be used for counterattack in CAEN area.  85 Inf Div is believed to be in the CALAIS area and 84 is EAST of the RIVER SEINE - not therefore a threat in the early stages.



Appendix I

Action Fought at RANVILLE and BENOUVILLE brs on night 5/6 June and day 6 June 1944.



The role of the battalion was to seize and hold the bridges over the R. ORNE and the CANAL DE CAEN at 103745 and 098748 and to establish a bridgehead on the West bank of the CANAL until relieved by seaborne tps.  The bridges were to be captured intact if possible.  In addition a batty posn at 105765 (thought to be abandoned) was to be neutralised and occupied.


The bn was to drop at 0050 hours (D Day) on DZ "N" (118749-113737) and RV on the NORTH end of WOOD 112745.  A pathfinder force, which included a small detachment from the battalion (Lt Rogers and 4 ORs), dropped 30 mins before the bn.


In order to try and secure the bridges intact a Coup de Main force landed as close to the bridges as possible at 0020 hours (D Day).  This force consisted of a company and two pls of the OXF & BUCKS LI (with certain attchd tps), under MAJOR HOWARD (OXF & BUCKS LI) and was carried in six gliders.  Lieut MacDonald travelled with this force for liaison duties between Howard and myself.


The Coup de Main operation was successful and as a result of this success it was not necessary for the bn to cross the water obstacles by dinghies as had been expected.


These dinghies were carried in kit bags, together with the necessary ropes for making the ferries, either on the legs of men or attached to bicycle chutes and thrown out by the number ones of certain sticks.  30 dinghies and 12 Recce boats together with a large number of ropes (falls) were carried in all.


The dropping was not too accurate and, although the bulk of the battalion was dropped on the DZ, there were many who were put down several miles wide.  Speed in forming up was an essential part of the bn plan; this was difficult for the following reasons:-


(1) The sticks were very scattered (the large number of kit bags undoubtedly slowed up the exits and resulted in some sticks being unduly long) and the aircraft seemed to come in from all angles, which confused those who were using the line of flight to get their bearings.


(2) The enemy had manned positions on the DZ itself and there was a good bit of MG fire across the DZ which resulted on some casualties.


(3) The heavy kit bags containing the boating material slowed the men up a lot.  The normal drill of coming in to the RV at the double was quite impossible.


Despite these difficulties however the men came in pretty well and by 0130 hrs I had about 50% of the riflemen and bren gunners in.  There were no mortars, MMGs or wireless sets in though.  I could hear Howard's success signal and knew that he had captured the bridges and that they were crossable so at 0130 hrs I set off with my initial attack force (A. B. C coys and the Adv Bn HQ.  The plan was for Rear Bn HQ to follow up in its own best time, so I left the 2 i/c (Steele-Baume) to collect in all he could and follow us up, choosing his own time for starting.


As the bridges were intact I took my force over them with all speed and ordered them into their prearranged bridge head positions in BENOUVILLE (see OO for details).  I had arranged in ENGLAND with Howard to do this if he should be fighting on the West of the CANAL when I arrived, my positions were outside the area he was likely to be in with his small force, and by working round into them I could not only assist him but would also save time.  It was 0140 hours when I crossed the CANAL bridge with this force.


The occupation of the bridge head positions called for some hasty decisions and reorganisation as no complete platoon (or even section) existed as such.  It was only possible to gauge the positions of the companies by the sound of small arms fire as there was no wireless.


When I judged that the positions had been occupied at about 0210 hours I ordered Howard (who came under my command at this stage) to withdraw his men over the CANAL bridge and made him responsible for the RIVER bridge and the area between the two bridges.


Steele-Baume and Rear Bn HQ which still included no mortars, MMGs or wireless, joined me on the West of the canal at 0220 hours.


From then on it is not really possible to give a clear story of the fighting which was very confused and fierce and almost continuous.  The loss of the wireless was particularly handicapping.


B Coy were much troubled by snipers in LE PORT and were also heavily attacked in their position on the wooded escarpment at 096750.  Soon after daylight the lack of mortars and MMGs became uncomfortably apparent and a modification of the original dispositions was called for.  The situation generally, at first light, was as follows:-


(1) A Coy were fighting in their area but runners failed to reach them, no runners came back from them and there was no wireless.  The company appeared to be surrounded because B company were on occasions attacked from the South i.e. their (B Coy's) left.


(2) The RAP (in A Coy area) had been overrun and the MO (Wagstaffe of 225 Para Fd Amb) was missing, the Padre (Parry) had been killed at the RAP.  This was found out by the IO (Mills), who had gone to try to contact A Coy.  The Bn MO (Young) was also missing after the drop.  He arrived by glider the next day together with his stick, which had not been dropped.  This stick also included OC HQ Coy (Tullis).


(3) B Coy were finding it difficult to retain their hold on the wooded escarpment and had only been able to dominate the southern half of LE PORT.


(4) C Coy was almost completely split up into battle outposts.  I had altered the original orders to these outposts about the withdrawal as I could not communicate with them by wireless and did not consider runners reliable enough for such an important message.  I ordered them to withdraw on their own initiative but only if under heavy pressure.  None of them did so withdraw.


(5) The rifle companies were at about 50% strength (less casualties which they were suffering at the time); a few personnel of the mortar and MMG pls were available but armed only with pistols.  These I retained at my HQ to augment the counter attack force which consisted of C Coy (less two pls and commander (Missing)).


I decided to hold the enemy on the line of the road running North-South from LE PORT to BENOUVILLE.  The plan was:- B Coy was to infest the Southern half of LE PORT and the small wood on the North side of the rd junc at 097748 and to prevent any breakthrough to the bridge from the North.  I held my counter attack force in the area of my HQ from which it could cover the small wood at 097748 by fire and was well placed to launch a c/a.  The gallant fight being put up by A Coy, I hoped would prevent any large scale attack developing from the South.  If it did so develop however the country was fairly open to the South of the bridge itself and I placed one pl of B Coy (Thomas) in this position and felt confident that he could at least delay any attack from that direction for sufficient time for me to be able to take any necessary action.  In a real emergency I would have brought a portion of Howard's force back to the West side of the bridge.


This plan worked well and during the course of the day's fighting the enemy launched eight separate attacks in addition to nagging constantly with small parties and occasionally armoured cars.  My weak spot was the flank immediately North of my HQ i.e. an approach down the bank of the Canal or round the SW of LE PORT.  This was covered only by Bn HQ personnel and was continually threatened by small infiltrating parties of enemy and snipers.  Excellent work was done by the mortar officer (Archdale) who led numerous small patrols to break up parties attempting to come in this way during the course of the day's fighting.


I estimate that the organised attacks were delivered by about a company each time.  The enemy showed little initiative and repeated the same attack time after time, fortunately the dispositions suited the approach he chose.  He usually attacked from the North West or West.  Heavy casualties were inflicted on the enemy (many more would have been inflicted if I could have used mortars and MMGs) and all attacks were beaten off.  No further closing in on the bridge end was therefore necessary.  The snipers in LE PORT were a constant source of trouble and excellent work was done by 5 pl (Poole) in dealing with them.  At one time a PIAT (Cpl Killeen) was used most successfully against snipers in the tower of the church in LE PORT.  The snipers too showed little initiative and twelve bodies were later found in the church tower.


At 1200 hrs on D Day the piper of 1 SS Bde could be heard in ST AUBIN 0876.  This was a pre-arranged recognition signal but I did not give the answering bugle call as this would have meant that the way was clear for the SS Bde to come through.  Until the whole of LE PORT had been cleared this was not the case.  However the leading element of the Bde (No.6 Commando) succeeded where the Germans had failed and found my weak spot.  At 1330 hrs the first Commando troops entered my HQ area from the North having worked round the SW of LE PORT.


The SS Bde assisted in the clearing of clearing of LE PORT and the piper led the first part of them over the bridge at about 1400 hrs.  Snipers returned to the Northern half of LE PORT after the SS Bde had passed through and they were never completely cleared from there.


Relief by 8th Inf. Bde was expected not before H plus 5 hours i.e. 1225 hrs and all ears were strained for the pre-arranged bugle recognition call ("Defaulters") which was to be sounded from St AUBIN by the leading unit (E. YORKS) which was to relieve the battalion in its bridgehead position.


Further attacks were launched on the battalion position during the afternoon.  At one period, as a novelty, two gun boats came up the CANAL.  Fire was held until they reached the bridge when one of them was put out of action by a PIAT fired by Howard's force from the bridge area.  The second one turned round and made off quickly while the first one opened fire with its gun (which was remote controlled) and shot up my HQ area.  There were several lucky escapes and only one slight casualty.  The crew of the boat were taken prisoner.


The same boats, or similar ones, had been shooting up the battle outpost at the battery position 105765 (Lieut Parrish).  This outpost found that the position was, as thought, abandoned and so they occupied it themselves and remained there all day without incident other than the trouble with the gun boat.  This trouble cost the outpost one killed and one wounded.


About 1900 hrs the 2 i/c A Coy (Webber) appeared at my HQ and gave me the first real report of his company.  The coy comd (Taylor) was a stretcher case, Webber (himself wounded, but capable of movement) was commanding, the other officers were all casualties (one dead, one missing after the drop and one wounded but carrying on) and the coy was, as suspected, surrounded and hard pressed but nevertheless intact and fighting back hard.  A counter attack was clearly necessary to enable them to collect in their wounded and regroup.  I detailed the platoon of C Coy who formed my c/a force (Lieut MacDonald) for the job and replaced them temporarily with a platoon drawn from Howard.  Webber led this platoon to A Coy area which involved working their way through the attacking Germans.  The platoon was however not strong enough (it was only about 17 strong) to launch an attack that had sufficient effect on the attackers and in the end re-inforced A coy and was itself surrounded.  Its presence brought a little relief to the company however.  A Coy had then been fighting for 17 hours, unassisted, against superior numbers of infantry supported by tanks and SP guns.  A Coy destroyed one Mk IV Tk and one SP gun with gammon bombs.  The company was in good heart but tired and further weakened by casualties.


The position at this stage was not very comforting because, although I felt confident of holding off attacks for some considerable time to come, there seemed no prospect of relief for the battalion and I could not be certain how things would go during the night, especially if the enemy made a really determined attack with a large force.


The GOC (6 Airborne Div) sent a special LO to GOC (3rd Inf Div) to explain the situation and to urge for relief for the battalion.  GOC 3rd Inf Div immediately visited the area himself and ordered up the 2 R.Warwicks to take over.  I understood that the 3rd Inf Div had been under the impression the bridges had been recaptured by the Germans and that a large scale attack by them (3 Div) would be necessary to get them back.  This attack was to be put in the following morning.


The E.Yorks had had heavy casualties on the beaches and were unable to reach St Aubin, much less relieve the battalion in BENOUVILLE.


The Warwicks came up very quickly (arrived 2115 hrs) but the take-over involved an attack to relieve A Coy and evacuate their casualties.


The battalion finally passed back over the bridge (CANAL) at 0100 hrs on D plus 1 day after handing over its positions to 2 R.War.R.


The bridgehead had been held by the battalion then for 21 hours.


Casualties are difficult to estimate as the exact strength of the unit was not known at the time of move off from the RV and the fact that casualties were evacuated in two different directions i.e. either over the bridges by 225 Para Fd Amb or back to the beaches by seaborne Fd Amb; they were however estimated at the time as follows:-



18 (including 3 offrs i.e. Parry, Bowyer, Hill)



FIELD 29th June 44

[Signed R.G. Pine-Coffin.]

Lieut.Col. Commanding 7 (L.I.) Bn The Paratp Regt.



Appendix II

Wood Clearing Action Fought with Tank Support at LE MARIQUET


On 10th June 1944 the battalion was in position at LE HOME 113737 i.e. at the SW corner of the DZ it had landed on four days earlier.


Except for occasional shelling life was quiet.  The seaborne personnel of the bn joined the airborne part in the position.


At about 0930 hrs on the 10th the MMG and mortar pls in the area of rd and track junc 112729 reported parties of enemy on the DZ in the area 124735.  These were at long range but considerable damage was done to them by mortar and MMG fire and the snipers (including myself, who claim one at 1,750 yds) had a real field day.


It later transpired that these enemy had broken onto the DZ from BREVILLE 1374 and, after abortive attempts to cross the DZ itself, had made for the wood at LE MARIQUET 1273.  Here their presence was particularly undesirable as they lay between the 5th and 3rd Para Bdes, which had not actually made contact at this stage.  The flank bns of each Bde i.e. 13th at RANVILLE 1173 and Canadians at X rds 1372 would have been in danger of overreaching themselves if they had extended their positions to include these woods.


The battalion was therefore ordered to sweep the woods and to clear the enemy out of them.  It was thought that there was about a company of them in there.


A sqn of 13/18 H (Sherman tks) was to support the attack and the bn (less C Coy, which was in a detached position covering Bde HQ in RANVILLE) was to do the job that afternoon.


Time for planning was short and this planning was not made easier by the facts that:-


(1) It was raining hard.

(2) The tps in the area where I met the tank comd i.e the East end of wood 113745 (which had been the bn RV after the drop) insisted that there were two platoons of enemy forming up for attack at a distance of about fifty yards to the East.  This supposition was based on the fact that snipers were in certain of the gliders on the DZ and small parties of enemy could be seen moving about amongst them.  There appeared to be no real reason to assume that they were about to attack but the general atmosphere was not conducive to a careful reconnaissance or the typing up of details for a tank cum infantry attack.


The plan was made however and was as follows:-


Tanks would move across the DZ and fire into each wood in turn and would indicate when they had finished firing by means of a smoke shell fired into the wood in question.  The infantry would then enter and clear the wood.


From the infantry point of view it was essential to maintain the momentum of the attack and so I ordered a very simple plan which catered for each wood in turn being swept and then mopped up by one company while the other company passed through the first and carried out the same manoeuvre in the next wood.  The two companies were to leap frog thus on to the final objective.  Advance Bn HQ was to always be just behind the leading company and Rear Bn HQ just behind the other one.


The woods in question were:-

W wood

X wood

Y wood

Z wood






After clearing Z wood the battalion was to secure rd junc 133726 and send out patrols to contact 3 Para Bde in the area X rds 1372.


I detailed B Coy to clear woods W, Y and Z and A Coy to clear wood X and to secure the rd junc at 133726.  The infantry start line was the East face of wood 118733 and the time of start was 1600 hrs.


The attack started at the appointed hour but difficulty was experienced from the start in co-ordinating with the tanks.  These latter came up in pairs and it was hard to know when they were all up as I understood that a sqn was being used but actually only six tanks appeared at any time.  It was also very hard to know when they had finished firing because on only one occasion did I see a smoke shell fired and on several occasions there were tanks on fire which produced so much smoke themselves that it was difficult to see what was happening.  All six tanks were eventually hit and burned out, this happened before the assault on Z wood was begun and the assault on this wood was carried out without tank support.  Fortunately the wood was unoccupied and the support was not necessary.


The clearing of W wood went without a hitch and several Germans were killed (Major Neale was wounded) and A Coy duly passed through and cleared X wood, where several more Germans were killed.  Two of the tanks were ablaze at this stage.


The remaining tanks then fired well into Y wood and A coy gave covering fire for B coy's approach to it.


When B coy entered the West of Y wood a white flag was raised from the NE corner of it.  The wood was thick and it was difficult to sort out the situation as, of course, B coy in the wood were not aware that the Germans were trying to surrender.  About 40 were taken prisoner here and the sorting out of them delayed A Coy, who should have followed B coy closely into the wood in anticipation of the next stage.


When I eventually got A coy on the move again I found that Rear Bn HQ had got ahead of Adv Bn HQ and was, in fact, at the East end of Y wood (which B coy had completely cleared) and I found my 2 i/c (Steele-Baume) busy marshalling a batch of about 40 more prisoners whom he appeared to have partially stripped.


At this stage I modified the plan as the delay over the prisoners had caused a slowing of the momentum which I was anxious to avoid; I therefore ordered B Coy to sweep Z wood immediately and held A coy for ten minutes and then sent them off at best speed by the road to secure the rd junc.  Adv Bn HQ went with A coy and Rear Bn HQ with B coy.


The final stage was something of an anti-climax as there were no enemy either in Z wood or at the rd junc.  3rd Para Bde were in fact at the rd junc themselves and there I contacted an RE captain who was in command of a party found by 3rd Para Bde whose area was centred on the rd junc.


Casualties suffered by the battalion were:-




Nine (includes one officer (Major Neale))



29 Jun 44.

[Signed R.G. Pine-Coffin.]

Lieut.Col. Commanding 7th (L.I.) Bn The Parachute Regt.



Appendix III

Action Fought at HEROUVILLETTE


The battalion moved to HEROUVILLETTE 1272 on 14 June 1944 and assumed responsibility for holding this important bastion of the divisional bridge head West of the R.ORNE.


The village had been held previously by 2 OXF & BUCKS (who had had a battle there) but at the time of take over was occupied only by troops Div. Park Coy R.E.


St HONORINE LA CHARDONERETTE 0971, immediately to the SW was held by the enemy and ESCOVILLE, within mortar range to the South, was not occupied by either side.


The RE had taken over the positions of the OXF & BUCKS but I did not altogether like them and occupied rather different ones myself.  I felt that a mobile striking counter attack force, located where it was unlike to be committed, was essential if I was to do anything more than just sit tight and shoot off anyone who came to attack us.  I therefore kept A coy (two platoons strong only) up my sleeve and disposed C Coy on the St HONORINE flank and B coy on the ESCOVILLE one.


The other two flanks (East and North) I did not consider likely to be attacked and entrusted to the RE, who remained in the area even though I had taken over from them.


A coy were dug in in an orchard 121723 which was ideally central for the purpose I had in mind for them.


The country was suitable for tank action but I was strong in anti/tank guns.  I had 13 in all, four 17 prs and nine 6 prs.  These had been sited before I took over by Maj Dixon of A/Tk Bty and all were in good sound positions.


The Germans had all the ranges of course following the recent battle with OXF & BUCKS in the same area and as a result shells frequently landed in the village without any warning ranging shots.  The slit trench discipline of the bn was excellent but a few casualties were inevitable under the circumstances.  One had an uncomfortable feeling that the Germans also knew the location of many of the positions as they had occupied the village for several years and ran a school or depot (engineer) in C coy area.  The underground shelters and trenches here were very elaborate.


ESCOVILLE presented a problem as it was normally unoccupied but could be quickly and secretly occupied by either side and was, in fact, at a later date.  The bn was at low strength (approx 60%) and I had no men to spare for such excursions, however attractive.  I did however feel compelled to maintain a small patrol in ESCOVILLE itself during the hours of daylight to see that the enemy did not occupy it without my knowledge.


On 15 June I got eight further anti/tank guns - all 17 prs and four of them self propelled.  These SP guns were particularly valuable as they could be used to cover possible gaps but the others, which were quad drawn, were not so effective as it was not an easy matter to fit suddenly into an already well covered area so many extra guns.  I gave them emergency stations and parked them under cover (in C coy area) until it should be necessary to occupy them.  When this occasion did arise (the next day) they were either slow off the mark or else very unlucky because they had one gun put out of action by shell fire while in their parked area.


A troop of Derby Yeo (armd cars) came into support on the same day and relieved me of the ESCOVILLE patrol by placing an armd car in that village (with wireless link to my HQ) from first light in the morning until last light at night.


At 0425 hrs on 16 June the village was suddenly and heavily shelled.  The first shells were from "Moaning Minnies" and one of them struck the side of the house I was using as my HQ.  At this hour practically everyone was in their trenches and the casualties suffered from the shelling, sudden and heavy as it was, were negligible.  An attack seemed not improbable however and this was confirmed when the armd car patrol found about 200 Germans in the usually empty ESCOVILLE at first light.


The dog-leg wood between ESCOVILLE and my position offered the enemy a good covered line of approach and start line for an attack.  I therefore ordered B coy to keep a close watch on this wood; they could not enter it because a previous unit had laid a mine field between my positions and the wood and this field had not been charted.  After several hours B coy reported signs of movement and it became almost a certainty that an attack was pending.


I would have welcomed an attack from this direction because B coy were in good positions and although they were understrength they had increased their fire power by including several German MGs, which they had captured in previous battles, into their position - there was also the uncharted minefield which would have accounted for some enemy for certain.


The battalion mortars, with an OP in B coy area, put hundreds of bombs right onto the right part of the wood and I later thickened this up with artillery.


Enemy tanks were spotted first to the SE of ESCOVILLE and then to the SW of it.  When they were SW of it a most annoying thing happened.  One of my 17 prs, in a very good position, had a tank which was thought to be a Tiger in their sights but at a rather long range; this tank was coming in nicely and the gunners were just beginning to rub their hands in anticipation of a kill when one of the armd cars appeared on the scene and opened fire on the tank with its 2 pr gun.  This had no visible effect on the Tiger but caused it to spray the area with MG fire (killing the gunners on my 17 pr) and then move off.


The enemy infantry attack still had not been launched by 1000 hrs so I decided to make up their minds for them, and ordered A coy to enter the dog-leg wood at the western tip and sweep it as far as the Chateau at ESCOVILLE.  They entered the wood at 1800 hrs and duly carried out their task.  The mortars dropped their bombs onto the wood up to the moment of entry by the sweeping party but I lifted the artillery onto ESCOVILLE itself and the southern exits from it.


It was possible to get some idea of how the sweeping was going by observation from B coy area and it looked to be going well as indeed it was.


The party returned after two hours without about 20 prisoners and reported killing many more in the wood itself.


The attack, if it was going to have developed into one, was completely broken up and no attack was launched from that direction or any other.


Battalion casualties during the day were:-



One (from shelling)

Six (includes Lt MacDonald who died from his wounds on 29 June)



30 Jun 44.

[Signed R.G. Pine-Coffin.]

Lieut.Col. Commanding 7th (L.I.) Bn The Parachute Regt.



Appendix IV

Period Spent in BOIS DE BAVENT


On the evening of the day of the action at HEROUVILLETTE I received orders to relieve the 8th Bn in the BOIS DE BAVENT sector the following day.  This was part of a change over of the two Para Bdes and was ordered because the mental strain of the close fighting in the wooded country was a great test and the 3rd Para Bde were even more tired than we were even though we had had more fighting.  I sent the 2 i/c (Steele-Baume) with a small advanced party to the new area that night (16th June) and he arrived just in time to receive the evening's shelling of the area.


At 0700 hrs on the 17th the move began (it was not to take place if an attack was taking place or was considered likely on any sector of either Bde's fronts - HQ 6 Airborne Div gave the order).  I had to leave one company at HEROUVILLETTE and take over the new sector with the other two companies so that for a period on the 17th I was responsible for both areas, with the 8th bn on the move between them.  Luckily nothing developed in either area during this nerve-straining period.


The area for which the battalion was responsible in the BOIS area was bounded on the North by the 13th Para Bn, on the South by the BOIS DE BAVENT, on the East by the enemy and on the West by the road BREVILLE-TROARN.  Actually a track encircled the area and I decided to regard the area within this track and the main road (1472) as sacred to the battalion and to allow no German to enter it.  The 8th Bn positions, I found, were rather too close in and good fields of fire were sacrificed as a result.  I therefore adjusted them to my liking and this resulted in my holding the area with the following lay out.  Two companies forward with that on the right rather further forward than that on the left.  The right hand forward company had a detached platoon actually in the BOIS itself and the left forward company's position was sited to refuse that flank.  The third company (less one platoon) was in reserve for patrolling and counter attack purposes and was located just in rear of my HQ and actually just West of the main road.  The detached platoon of this company was in positions covering a side of the BOIS on the right of my HQ.


I forbid all cooking in the trenches and cooking was done centrally just in rear of the reserve company.  This was not a popular order as food got cold before it reached the front positions, (although containers were employed) but probably saved some lives.


The fields of fire were short (about 150 yards at the best) despite the most advanced positions I was occupying.  The country was ideal for infiltration.  The position was not a comfortable one and the mental strain experienced by the 3rd Bde could be well understood.


I decided to hold firm in my area sacred to the battalion and to so frighten the enemy by means of aggressive patrols and raids that he would avoid my position and so not discover my comparative weakness.  The battalion was seriously depleted by casualties at this time and definitely was weak and was also approaching the time when it would lose efficiency through battle weariness as it had been in almost continuous action since dropping on the night 5/6 June.  It was essential to make an impression on the enemy and to make it quickly.


Contact patrols were sent out from the forward companies at once and snipers were given a large area to operate in with orders to frighten the enemy.  A recce patrol was briefed to examine LA PRIEURE 1572 on the first night.  This was never sent out however as the contact patrols reported enemy activity in the area of buildings at 146724.  The recce patrol went to this area instead and reported fully several positions, including mortars, which they pin pointed there.


This was just what I had hoped for and it had come sooner than I had dared hope.  I therefore laid on the first offensive demonstration which was a daylight raid by B coy (the reserve and patrolling company) against this building area and timed it for the following afternoon.


In the meantime the snipers were doing excellent work and each claimed two victims on their first day, except one who having spurned a shot at 200 yds because he "was after the longer stuff" failed to see another target and so got none.


B company's raid took place at 1430 hrs on the 18th and involved artillery and mortar support.  It was an expensive effort but was well carried out and was extremely successful.  The position was well shot up and about 30 enemy were killed there and the others given a good fright.  What was more important though was that six prisoners were taken and some of these talked freely when interrogated by the IO (Lt Mills).  From them was obtained:-


(1) The general lay out of the German positions facing the bn.

(2) An idea of the German intentions.

(3) The location of their battalion HQ and of one of the company HQs.

(4) The areas occupied by their two forward companies.

(5) The designation of the battalion and companies concerned.


The area of the third company was established fairly accurately by Capt Keene, who led the raid.


Casualties suffered were:-



Three ORs (One CSM and two (killed by shorts from own artillery))

Nineteen (including 3 offrs i.e. Parrish, Poole, Farr)


The fatigue situation was now rather serious; I had hoped that the reserve company would have had an easy time and intended to use that area for resting purposes.  Now the occupants of that position were more tired than the rest of the battalion having carried out the raid, and had little prospect of being able to rest.


On the night of the 18th I started wiring my front and flanks on the advice of the Bde comd.  A party of RE, augmented by men of the left forward company, put up a complete line of wire during this night.  This wire was, of course, no obstacle in itself but it was tactically sited and the subsequent thickening of it was a non-specialist job and was carried out as opportunity offered.  The presence of the wire was a great comfort to the forward troops.


The 19th was a comparatively quiet day with the usual contact patrols and snipers active in front of the position.  The enemy shelled and mortared the position accurately from time to time and the artillery organised a counter-mortar drive for which the good work of the Int. Sec. with their accurate shelling reports and bearings was invaluable.  A wounded POW was brought in by a contact patrol.  The GOC visited the area and ordered the Independent Para Coy to come up and relieve me of patrolling and raiding duties so that the reserve company could really rest (between the periods of shelling).


The Independent Para Coy (1 offr and 40 only) arrived on the morning of the 20th and I briefed them at once for my next offensive demonstration.  This was to be a prisoner-grabbing raid by a small party on the enemy's left i.e. track junc 148720 and was to have artillery and mortar support.


The raid was delayed because the enemy occupied the start line (driving out a small standing patrol I had there) and a platoon of the right forward company had to attack and drive them out; this platoon was led by the coy comd (Maj Bartlett) and was successful but Bartlett and one OR were wounded.  Good work was done here by my 2 i/c at Rear Bn HQ who not only arranged with the gunners to hold the artillery support until I called for it but also arranged for the guns to remain laid on the line until I said I would not want them further; this enabled me to bring fire onto the area without delay at any time and was used to cover the withdrawal of the patrol (which would not have been possible with a timed programme) and also enabled me to put down a extra concentration of fifteen minutes after the raid which might well have caused casualties amongst Germans who had come up to find out what had happened.


The wind was blowing from East to West that afternoon so I ordered two smoke bombs to be put down by the mortars just North of the objective at the time of the approach of the patrol (1700 hrs).  The enemy fired blindly into the smoke, as is his habit, from the area where his reserve company was expected to be (thus confirming my suspicions); a tremendous volume of small arms fire was produced.  No casualties were caused to the patrol but it is likely that some were caused to the forward German troops themselves, it had the effect of making them keep their heads down anyway.  The raid was successful and three prisoners were collected.  About a dozen enemy were killed in this small area selected and these included two with an MG and four in what appeared to be a mortar pit.  Capt de Letour, who led the raid and was the only officer with the Ind. Para. Coy was wounded and died later the same day from his wounds.


Other casualties were:-




Two ORs (by counter mortar fire)

One (excludes Maj Bartlett and one mentioned above)

Ind. Para. Coy.


Two ORs


Another officer came out to command the Ind. Para. Coy on the 21st and the company itself left the area on the 22nd.


The 21st and 22nd were comparatively quiet days except for the normal shelling and mortaring.  I was now compelled to draw in my horns rather as the men were extremely tired (so tired in fact that the normal double sentry at night had had to be altered to one third, and later one half, on duty at a time).  Those who not actually on duty could not get much sleep either because stand-to was at 0500 hrs and 2245 hrs.  Men fitted in some sleep during the day when not needed for contact patrols, sniping or wiring etc and with the low strength of companies these duties came round very quickly to each individual.


It was noticeable that as I got less aggressive so the enemy got bolder and reports of movement on his front, patrols (sometimes with dogs on leads) moving round my right flank in the BOIS, digging in in areas well forward of his known front line and uncomfortably close to mine were constantly coming in on these days.  The shelling and mortaring also increased considerably and a few casualties occurred every day despite the most excellent positions and slit trench discipline.


The morale of the men was superb but they were very tired and it would have been dangerous to launch them on anything but the simplest of short range patrols.  This was particularly galling because I knew that the battalion if fresh, and at anything like its normal strength, could have cleaned up the whole front in an afternoon's fighting.


On 22nd June I changed over A (left forward) and B (reserve) companies as B coy had then had 48 hrs in the rest area with only shelling to worry them.  C company (right forward) was also relieved by a company of the 12th Para Bn (which came under my comd) and went back to rest in the Bde HQ area.


The 23 June was an ominously quiet day with almost complete freedom from shelling and mortaring but with further reports from the contact patrols of enemy activity including some disquieting reports of vehicles in the area which suggested the arrival of enemy re-inforcements or fresh troops being brought in.  I laid on another raid on that afternoon to be carried out on the enemy left flank which now appeared to extend South of the track junc at 148720.  It was to be carried out the following night with artillery and mortar support by a small party from the new company of the 12th Para. Bn.


The object of the raid was to get a prisoner to find out if the enemy had been reinforced (or changed) and to give him another fright so as to check his recent boldness.  It was timed for 2330 hrs and was to consist of the coy comd (Maj Bliss) and eight.


The GOC visited the bn area again on the 24th and announced that, the tactical situation permitting, the Bde would be relieved by the 3rd Para Bde the next day and would go into the Div rest area.  I sent the 2 i/c off with the advanced party that night in anticipation.


Just before the raiding party was due to start the enemy began a most concentrated shelling and mortaring of the bn area.  The amount of explosive rained down was really staggering and practically every type of weapon seemed to be used from six barrelled mortars ("Moaning Minnies") to S.P. guns.  It was extremely accurate and continued all through the night but was at its most intense between 2230 and 0330 hrs.  All telephone lines were broken and several wireless sets were hit so communications became very difficult.


Soon after midnight the Black Watch on my right (South) reported that a heavy attack was being launched on their positions from the south and requested help from me.  I was not prepared, or able, to send men so did what I could with artillery as my wireless link with Bde was still working (the gunner's own wireless had been hit).  I later found that this had been most effective and the BW were very grateful.


The patrol started on its mission as arranged but the artillery and mortar support (which was not inconsiderable) was quite inaudible in the noise of the enemy shelling and it is hard to say how effective it was.  The men of the patrol were literally blown off their feet when they tried to move and Bliss found it impossible to carry out the complete mission.  He suffered no casualties luckily but was unable to get a prisoner.


The weight of the enemy shelling gave the impression of an impending attack no infantry appeared and no one in the battalion even fired a round.


The casualties were very slight i.e.


12 Para B.




4 ORs

2 ORs

10 ORs


It is interesting to note that the battalion (whose slit trench discipline was extremely good as a result of their experience) suffered far less casualties than the less experienced 12th Bn.  Men in slit trenches, with good head cover, being completely safe from anything except a direct hit in the trench.


Of the four battalion casualties two were hit by an unlucky shell on their actual trench while the other two had left their trenches at just the wrong moment.


Two-man trenches are definitely preferable to one-man ones.  A man in a slit trench by himself during a concentration feels desperately lonely and often feels that everyone else has been killed and he is about to be; he will often risk leaving his trench to join a comrade just for the company and may become a casualty as he does so.


The days spent in this BOIS position were a useful experience but it was definitely expensive - 97 passed through the RAP during the eight days we were there.  But for the good trench discipline this would have been an even higher number.  The RAP was itself hit by shells on three occasions.


At 1400 hrs on 25th June the battalion was relieved by the 8th Bn and came into the Divisional rest area about 115760.



1 Jul 44.

[Signed R.G. Pine-Coffin.]

Lieut.Col. Commanding 7th (L.I.) Bn The Parachute Regt.



Appendix I

Second Period in BOIS DE BAVENT Sector


The battalion left the rest area on the morning of 4th July and returned to the same locality in the BOIS DE BAVENT that it had been in before.  It took it over from the 8th Para Bn and found that this bn (to whom the locality had been handed) had not altered the positions and had had a comparatively quiet time there.


During the rest period three officers and one hundred reinforcements were absorbed by the battalion.  These reinforcements were from Second Army Reinforcement Pool and were not parachutists but were all Light Infantrymen (KSLI).  They included three sergeants and six corporals.  They looked good types as far as I could see but were without battle experience.  I could not be sure how the men would take to them or how the new men would re-act to battle conditions, so ordered that they could be absorbed into existing sections and that no sections were to consist entirely of reinforcements.  The NCOs were to be supernumerary to my own NCOs and one officer went to each A, B and C Coys.


At the time of taking over the position again the strength of the battalion was:-

7th Bn.









Other Ranks






The companies stood at 90 for A and B (two platoons each) and 100 for C (three platoons).


I regard this second visit to the BOIS sector as one of the most difficult periods for the following reasons:-


1. The sector itself was a most trying and difficult one as explained in my appendix attached to the War Diary for June 1944.

2. The men were not really rested after their week in the rest area as this was right under the muzzles of our own guns (which fired practically without ceasing day and night) and also the weather had been very bad.

3. The men knew the sector and had found it trying before; they also well remembered the heavy casualties suffered there last time.

4. The parachutists themselves were battleweary and needed careful leadership as a result.

5. The new reinforcements were new to battle and so also needed careful leadership.

6. I was desperately short of leaders as a result of past battles.


The enemy seemed quieter than before and the shelling and mortaring were lighter and less frequent and, in view of this, the GOC formed the opinion that the enemy might be pulling out and leaving only a weak crust to contain us on this sector.


Division and Brigade laid plains to test this and several days passed during the planning without much action being taken against the enemy.  The plans considered included a night attack by the 13th Para Bn through my positions (abandoned for various reasons) and a day raid by my battalion from its own positions.  This day raid was not carried out either but I carried out several useful patrols while it was under consideration.  It was as a result of these patrols that the raid was not carried out.  The country was found to be most unsuitable.


In the end the policy of gradually edging forward the FDLs was laid down and I set to work on this.


The left forward company (B) had little difficulty and soon established themselves within 200 yds of BOB'S FARM, with an OP considerably closer.  This company also had good results on shooting up the farm with a PIAT, which was found to be extremely accurate (used as a mortar).  A few PIAT bombs produced far more visible damage than even the heaviest artillery concentrations.  On one occasion an outbuilding was set on fire but fortunately burned out without setting off the farmhouse itself.


The right forward company (C) did not have such a satisfactory time as they were very close to the North face of the BOIS DE BAVENT, which was thick and contained German positions which changed frequently.  They did, however, establish themselves but not without the loss of Lt Atkinson (pl comd) and two ORs (all killed).


My FDLs had thus shifted to within 200 yds of the enemy on the left flank, 150 yds in the centre and an unknown distance on the right flank.  The outpost screen on the right (a section by night and two snipers, each with an attendant sten gunner, by day) was actually level with the German front line in the centre.  It was a most peculiar situation.  I was anxious about this right flank and so kept the two hedges in front of the right outpost posn under almost continuous mortar fire with a view to making them untenable by the enemy.  This appeared to be successful as no trouble arose from this quarter.


The 13th Para Bn (later changed with the 12th Para Bn) on my left had adopted the same policy but had not managed to get forward to anything like the same extent which resulted in my position becoming something of a salient.  I made certain adjustments to my reserve company because of this, moving two sections into the scrub just East of my HQ.  This protected my HQ from any enemy who should try to work through the BOIS to my rear and also helped to close the gap which naturally resulted from the forward move of the forward companies without a similar move by the rear troops.


It was now not possible for me to edge forward any further by this method as I was facing the enemy FDLs across one field along the whole of my front.  I therefore planned a raid aimed to clear up a large section of the enemy front while occupying his rear positions by mortar and artillery fire and the whole operation timed to co-incide with a diversion by artillery, mortars and the sound of small arms fire well to the north.  This raid seemed very likely to produce the information required by the GOC i.e. whether the enemy were in strength or whether he was only pretending to be, so permission was granted for it to be carried out.


The left forward company (B) was to carry out the raid at 1630 hrs on 10th July.  A Coy (Reserve Coy) was to take over from B Coy as left forward company by 1600 hrs.  B Company was to come into reserve on completion of the raid.


The raid itself was very similar to B Coy's previous most successful raid on this farm area, except that this time, as I was much further forward, I intended to cover the move across the enemy FDLs by small arms fire from the front of the right forward company (C).  For this purpose I had eleven automatic guns on C Coy's FDL i.e. three captured MG 34s (which all broke down as it happened), six brens and two vickers.  All fired straight to their front to a timed programme (supplemented by smoke signals to be thrown out by the attackers) except one vickers which fired on the right i.e. towards the BOIS to discourage any interference there.


The raiding company moved out by means of the gully, with two sections moving on the track to the North, and added its own PIAT concentration to the mortar bombs already coming down on the farm.  Again the PIATs produced the most spectacular results and greatly encouraged the troops moving to the attack.


The two sections moving down the track were pinned down as the started by an MG in the farm area and the rest of the company encountered great trouble from booby traps in the gully itself.  The going in the gully was extremely difficult as the bottom was filled with water and mud and the men were waist deep in it most of the time; also it was wired and the trip wires for the various booby traps were at about the level of the surface of the water and mixed up with the defensive wiring.  Casualties occurred at this stage but the company pressed on and actually [?]rmed and occupied the farm itself.  They encountered anti-personnel mines in the farm area and the company commander (Maj Keen) was wounded by treading on a "Shu" mine (presumed).  He remained in control however and here the shortage of leaders was painfully apparent.  If ever a time existed when sound leaders were needed it was this moment; the company was under strength (two platoons of 25 only) and Keen had only one officer (Lt Pape - Canadian reinforcement).  The leaders that were there did magnificent work but there were not enough of them and it was clear that the plan would have to be modified as it could not be carried out fully.


The 2 i/c (Maj Steele-Baume) therefore authorised Keen to cancel the sweep along the enemy FDL and withdraw from the farm area provided he got all his casualties back with him.  Wireless communication was through the 2 i/c at Rear Bn HQ and at this point my set was temporarily not working.  Keen did this withdrawal successfully but the enemy followed up the company and brought two MGs to bear on the gully from close range.  Excellent work was done here by Sgt Lucas who placed himself by a tree on the gully side with a bren gun and engaged the two MGs in a shooting match thus enabling his company to move back down the gully in comparative safety.


The enemy opened up with a tremendous amount of artillery and mortars (including "Moaning Minnies") and fired desperately over the entire battalion area for several hours.  It was 1930 hrs before I was able to get back from my Adv Bn HQ (at C Coy's FDL) to my Rear Command Post and even then it was a most alarming journey with many quick dives into ditches.


The battalion was disappointed because it had not completed the raid as planned but the GOC was at pains to dispel this disappointment.  The volume of the enemy fire had given exactly the information that was sought.  The raid had been a "military success" as the GOC pointed out in a letter to the Bde. Comd and the battalion received considerable praise for being able to stage such a spirited effort after such a long period in the line.


The casualties suffered in the raid were:

7th Bn.






1 Offr (Keen) 22 ORs

1 Offr (Patterson) 13 ORs

2 Offrs and 35 ORs (Note several of these returned to duty after treatment and were not evacuated).


It is interesting to note that the casualties suffered by C Coy were the same number as those suffered by B Coy who carried out the actual raid.  These casualties were caused by the heavy retaliatory shelling and were, on the whole, more serious cases.


The battalion was relieved in the area on the 12th July and returned to the rest area for a really well needed rest.


Casualties during the period were:-

7th Bn.







1 Offr (Atkinson), 5 ORs

1 Offr (Keen), 14 ORs

2 ORs

1 Offr (Patterson), 12 ORs


Note the above wounded figures include only those who were evacuated from the area.


14th Jul 44.

[Signed R.G. Pine-Coffin Lt-Col]

Comdg 7th (L.I.) Bn The Parachute Regt.



Appendix II

Report on Action by B Coy in BOBS FARM 10 Jul


The plan was for the two pls of B Coy to attack in two phases - leading pl and Coy HQ were to get into fm area and establish firm bases and the second pl was to form up on the NORTH end of track running SOUTH from 147724 and clear down the line of track to 148720 and then return via track running EAST and WEST.  On the signal being given by second pl that its clearing was complete leading pl and Coy HQ were to withdraw from BOBS FARM via gully 145723.  Evacuation of PW was to take place by both the routes already indicated and evacuation of cas was to take place along the tracks NORTH and SOUTH of bn posn.  SA fire sp was under control of OC C Coy (Capt WOODMAN) and consisted of 9 LMG and 2 MMG in posns along hedgerow 146722.  From H to H+15 three left hand LMG were to fire across BOBS FARM and then all guns were NOT to fire left of a line straight to their front.  Recognition between B Coy and C Coys fire sp was to be 77 grenades thrown from right flank of B Coys clearing pl.  Arty sp consisted of fire from 53 Airldg Lt Regt RA with two btys firing on target MIKE 15 (151722) alternately slow and rapid from H to H+60 and one bty on MIKE 17 (153717) slow H to H+60 with one gun firing smoke.  Mortar programme Bn mortars were to fire with two mortars steadily on target MUSTANG 149718 and HELLFIRE 6 from H to H+20 and one mortar firing mixed smoke and HE on 148716 area.  13 Bn mortars under comd (Capt SKEATS) with fire controller (Sjt ROBERTS) with Bn HQ fired HE rapid on BOBS FARM from H to H+13.  150 Fd Regt RA had programme of concs at various suspected areas further EAST from H to H+60.  The plan of leading pl of B was for two sections to enter FARM area from left (see ph attached) and one section from the right (with line of adv down gully) followed by Coy HQ and for that force to clear FM area and take up posns as indicated.  The two sections on the left under Sjt RICKETT were held up by hy MG fire as shown and did not reach further than the line indicated.  On the right Sjt NORMAN with a small section penetrated into the farm area having lost two men through booby trapped enemy wire in gully.  This party was joined in the farm by Sjt LUCAS and then by Maj KEENE and Coy HQ.  Maj KEENE was soon out of action through treading on booby trap (suspected Schu mine) and Sjt NORMAN (himself hit) lost three men in locating a MG firing from area of br 147724 which was promptly engaged by Sjt LUCAS with a bren.  As the second pl of B Coy approached down the gully under Lt PAPE it was met with severe mortar fire and pl comd ordered the pl to get down where they were.  When he ordered the adv to continue only one section strength penetrated with him to FARM area.  Lt PAPE took over comd of the Coy and Maj KEENE instructed that the second phase of the party could not go on and that the Coy was to withdraw.  The RE party under Sjt FRASER did excellent work in the FARM area and an RE report is attached.  Lt PAPE with CSM PRENTICE and Sjt LUCAS stayed behind to cover withdrawal of Coy via gully (this withdrawal was completed by 1750) through A Coys posns (left fwd Coy) to pre-arranged res posns.  It should have been stated that before the raid began A Coy had taken over from B Coy as left fwd Coy.  During the action Lt Col TEACHER was in the Bn comd post and MIKE 15 and 17 were repeated on call from A Coy.  Bn mortars fired on HELLFIRE on call of C Coy and 13 Bn mortars contrived to fire on BOBS FARM at A Coys call.  Fire was also called on hostile mortar targets and at 1828 DF 5381 was fired + 200X EAST.  All this time the CO who had gone to C Coys fwd line with Bde Comd and a party consisting of Sigs Offr RSM and inf pte (L/Cpl COULTHARD) was out of touch with bn as first the line and then the wireless broke down and was waiting for the opportunity amidst very hy shelling and mortaring to get back to bn HQ.  This party finally got back at 1930.  Excellent work was done in evacuation of cas by Pte O SULLIVAN of mortar pl and Maj       of 13 Bn arrived in the thick of the shelling with a party bringing additional bren mags for C Coy.  Bn cas in the action were 3 killed and 1 Offr (Maj KEENE) and 19 ORs wounded.  Apart from MG posns shown in ph it was difficult to assess enemy str.  The small party which penetrated into the FARM saw only about 4 GERMANS and there were signs of a hasty withdrawal.  Unfortunately no identification was obtained.



Appendix J1

The Follow-Up 17-27 August 1944.


On 17 Aug the bn was enjoying its second visit to the Le BAS DE RANVILLE area where it was resting and reorganising for further ops.


It moved by MT in the evening of 17th and spent the night together with the rest of the Bde, in the area of the triangle of roads 1370 which had been vacated by 3 Para Bde.  3 Bde was on the heels of the enemy who had pulled out of the position from which they had been facing us for so long.  5 Bde had no orders at this time but moved fwd in anticipation and in order to make use of MT which would not be available at a later hour.


One man was wounded by a booby trap in this area.  Mosquitoes were particularly trying.


The Bde followed up the 3rd Bde by march route in the small hrs of the following morning (18th) and halted just in rear of 3 Bde at GOUSTRANVILLE 2271.  3 Bde were in contact here, and it was planned for 5 Bde to attack through them that night and secure dominant to the EAST, as their objective.


Original plan was for 13 Bn to secure PUTOT EN AUGE 2471 from start line and FUP; rly line about 245715.  12 Bn was to be held in reserve.  This plan was subsequently modified in respect of the bn's role, which then was to attack 30 mins after the 13 Bn and come up on the left flank and make good the line of the orchard about 253717.


The bn FUP was to be wood at 239717.  The route to the FUPs could not be given until 2300 hrs at the earliest as it depended on 3 Bde ops, which (if any) of the three brs could be used to cross the river.  It was an extremely dark night.


I sent the IO (Capt Mills) to Bde HQ as LO to find out which br was to be used and then set off with the bn.  Mills met us on the rd and told me it was the northern br 233726.  This was annoying because my FUP was very close to the Southern br, and movement was clearly going to be difficult in any event owing to the darkness of the night and the many hedges and ditches.  13 Bn, who were leading the column were only just ahead and would take some time to cross this northern br (which was partially destroyed) and I was ordered to check and allow them sufficient time to cross before moving to the br myself.  Intermittent shelling of the rd coincided with the bn's check there and some cas were suffered.


Later I was called to Adv Bde HQ which was close to the check point and informed that a further modification of the plan was necessary for the following reasons:-


(a) The Northern br, although only partially destroyed, was far from intact and it was not practicable to pass two bns over it during the rest of the night.

(b) a fourth br (foot) had been located just south of the known Southern br.

(c) The 13 Bn were already at the northern br and would take some time to come back.

(d) It was imperative to hit the enemy at dawn whether at the pre-arranged spot or somewhere else.


I was therefore to cross this foot br with all speed and carry out my part of the attack without waiting for the 13 Bn who would come up as fast as they could.  This was an unpleasant prospect as my role had previously been more of a supporting nature and to carry out my part first meant passing beside but ignoring a village (PUTOT EN AUGE) which might well turn out to be a hornet's nest.  There was obviously no alternative at the time, but it was agreed that the village would be searched by the 12 Bn who were also to be close behind us.


The approach was even more difficult than anticipated and on occasion we came under MG fire and the enemy put up light flares very frequently.  The bn crossed the rly line at the stn (2471) at 0500 hrs 19 Aug which was only one hr after the ordered time.  In view of the extremely difficult approach and the darkness of the night this can be considered very good going indeed.


After the rly, it was soon apparent that the track which had been decided upon (from the map) to use for direction in the advance did not exist on the ground.


The advance was continued however in a SE direction after passing the station.  This led through the rectangular field which stretched from the area of the station to within 400 yds of PUTOT EN AUGE village.  The Northern hedges of this rectangular fd was, in fact, the missing track.


The leading coy (B) came under MG fire as it approached the NE corner of the fd, and could not get on: this was about 0600 hrs.  The remainder of the bn (less Mortars and MGs who were both brigaded and kept on wheels until daylight) had very wisely been hustled past the station area by the offrs and, as a consequence of the check to B Coy, the whole force was massed in the rectangular fd at 0615 hrs.


There was a morning mist at the time and as my wireless link with Bde HQ was not functioning I had no alternative to fighting my own battle as I found it and to hope for the best.  The situation as I appreciated it at the time was as follows:-


The bn (less Mortars and MMG) were, as stated, along the Northern edge of the rectangular fd; the leading coy whose head had reached the NE corner of this fd was held up by fire from at least three MGs, presumably located in the area of the village.  There was also fire from another large calibre weapon which later turned out to be 2cm AA/A Tk Guns (3) which were located in the rectangular fd itself.


While B Coy were attempting to work their own way fwd, I sent a pl of A Coy to watch the Southern and Eastern hedges of the rectangular fd and also ordered them to search two barns which could be seen in the SE corner.  This pl captured a pty of Germans who were approaching the SE corner of the fd from the village and also captured a 2cm AA/A Tk gun, which they found in this same corner.  They then remained in that area and covered my right flank.


Meanwhile B Coy found that the original MGs were beyond their own resources but they had captured a prisoner in their attempts.  This prisoner talked freely and gave locations of three AA/A Tk guns (one of which had already been captured) and certain German tps in the area, i.e. a coy to the North and a bn to the East.  On this occasion, on many past, I found that the immediate interrogation of prisoners by a German speaking offr nearly always paid a handsome dividend.  In this respect I was lucky in that Capt Mills, the bn IO spoke German and knew how to interrogate in order to get the essential infm quickly.  This prisoner was quite certain he would be shot by us and was petrified with terror as a result.  When he was sent back with some other prisoners he tried to run away, and was, in fact, shot and killed, not however in the circumstances that he had been led to believe.  B Coy suffered cas as follows:- 1 killed, 3 wounded (incl Lt Thomas).


I then gave my orders for dealing with the original MGs but my attention was soon drawn to a pty of men approaching the rectangular fd from the North, in extended line.  It was presumed that this was the 13 Bn but it was not possible to be certain because of the morning mist.  I ordered a strict watch to be kept and continued to give out my orders.  As the pty approached closer it could be seen that it included a certain number of Germans and it was thought that the 13 Bn were bringing in some prisoners with them.  Later still it could be seen that they were all Germans and were apparently advancing on the bn posn with evil intent.


A curious and not unamusing situation then arose.  The Germans were about 25 yds from the Northern hedge when someone in the hedge shouted to them to put their hands up (in some rather forceful English).  This dumbfounded the Germans who stopped in their tracks and talked amongst themselves.  It seemed possible that the whole lot would surrender, so I held fire to watch developments.  However one of them eventually lay down and opened fire with an MG.  It then became a shooting match with the Germans outnumbered and without cover - many of them were killed in the first few seconds.  It was possible for them to slip back the way they had come in the mist which was very thick so I sent a pl out on a left handed sweep to bring them in and moved a section to my right flank as a precaution.  Prisoners came in very fast and in the end 50 were sent back and the sweeping pl reported that about 15-20 enemy cas remained in the fd where they fell and about six had slipped back through the mist.


I then decided to push on with all speed.  I was still out of touch with Bde and was only a short distance from my objective.  An arty conc, which had actually been put down to assist the 13 Bn over the open ground which we had covered in the dark, fell at just the right time and place for this movement and the final objective was reached without incident.  Two more AA/A Tk guns were roped in during this phase and it was found that the 12 Bn had also made good headway and entered PUTOT EN AUGE just before we by-passed it.


Thus the Bde op which in retrospect (and prospect) appeared to be thwarted with almost insuperable snags, ended in complete success.


The bn posn on the objective ordered was on the reverse slope of a hill and was a very strong posn indeed.  Patrols were naturally sent fwd at once to ensure that the enemy were not on, or just over, the actual top of the hill.


On 20 Aug the bn posn was expanded Northwards with a view to securing the main EAST-WEST rd which lay in that direction.  I ordered C Coy to do the necessary clearing action, and this turned out to be a model action on a small scale, and proved effectively the extreme value of efficient communications.


The patrols of pl strength were sent out and each was controlled by the coy comd over 38 sets: the whole being controlled by myself with another 38 set.  The mortar control also with a 38 set was beside me.  Opposition was reported quickly and accurately over the wireless, the necessary moves made, or mortar fire brought down by the same means, and as a result a most effective and successful little action took place.  (Cas 1 killed, 3 wounded).  C Coy were in posn astride the rd in just over two hrs, and remained in this location for the night.


Modification of Bde Posns


On 21 Aug the Bde assumed responsibility for this EAST-WEST rd and adjustments were accordingly made in the three bn posns.  The bn joined C Coy and became responsible for the rd from crossrds 2472 to houses 253724, with patrols to crossrds 262728.


Continuation of Advance


Supply problems had become more acute owing to the rapid move of the unit and congestion on the rd, and on 21 Aug, the adm personnel were brought up to the bn area.


During the evening orders were received to continue the adv.  The bn was to move in MT to ANNEBAULT 4201 at 0400 hrs and then be prepared to pass through the 3 Bde who were then fighting in that area.


It was a very dark night and the move presented its own problems, but went off satisfactorily, and the bn arrived on time ([?]55 hrs).


Orders to the following effect were received at ANNEBAULT.  Bn was to march at once to assembly area in orchard 466016 (referred to as TAUNTON).  12 Bn to seize area rd bend 4901 7 Bn to seize high ground 506006, 12 Bn to seize high ground 517017.  7 Bn to be prepared to pass through 12 Bn and effect assault crossing over R TOUQUES that night.  The bn tasks were to be completed in succession and speed was the essence.


However, through a failure in Bde comns, neither the 12 Bn nor myself received word that the 13 Bn had reached their bend in the rd (without opposition) and actually the Bde Comd himself reached my objective before the bn left the assembly area.  Fortunately the enemy had pulled out.


Both the 12 Bn and myself set off hot foot for our areas, and of course occupied them without incident except that the marching was beginning to tell on the men's feet after their two month's static period defending the brhead.


I went fwd to the 12 Bn area to view the river for the assault crossing and found that it was proposed, to save time, to put the 12 Bn over by means of a ford that had been found and not to wait until dark, but to do it in two hours from then, i.e. at 1700 hrs.  I was to follow the 12 Bn over the river and exploit into PONT L'EVEQUE 5204 during the night.


I accordingly brought the bn to a posn just in rear of the 12 Bn where their arrival coincided with a shelling of that area and cas were suffered (3 killed, 3 wounded).




The Bde now facing PONT L'EVEQUE where the enemy were obviously making a stand beside the river with all brs blown.  The 12 Bn were attempting their ford crossing while the 13th tried the village itself by working men on foot over the remains of the br.  The 12 Bn were soon in difficulties as they had to cross open marshy ground under fire, but the 13 managed to infiltrate men as far as the rly line where they were held up by MGs in houses and SP guns.


I was given the choice of using either approach for my night exploitation role and decided to use the partially demolished br in the village itself.  I was to work right through the village and est myself on the high ground to the NORTH.


The posn of the 12 Bn then deteriorated and my orders were modified.  I was to enter the town, swing south and occupy the spur of ST JULIEN SUR CALONNE 5403, thus relieving pressure on the 12 Bn and enabling them to withdraw.  This was to be done either by day or night whichever I considered the more suitable.  As it would be most difficult to maintain control during street fighting in the dark (and it would be a very dark night) I decided to do it just before dark, i.e. enter the village at 2130 hrs.  Time was short but the rations arrived just in time for the men to have a very rapid meal before setting off at 2030 hrs.


The Germans then set the village on fire and the orders had to be changed just as we set off.  The attack was to take place at dawn when the fire should have burned out.


I therefore moved the bn back to a better area where there was cover, about half a mile up the rd.


When they got there a further change in orders was necessary.  The 12 Bn had had a mauling and were being pulled right out of it and would come back for a night's rest to the cover I had just entered.  I was to take over their area (spur 5202) and to occupy it by 2300 hrs.  The dawn attack by the bn was cancelled.  I received these orders at 2130 hrs when it was almost dark, so posns had to be occupied hurriedly in the dark and adjusted at first light.  I [sent?] A and B Coys fwd and kept C Coy as res near my HQ.


It poured with rain during the night but everyone was so tired that one did not notice it.  Occasional shelling throughout the day and night resulted inevitably in a few more cas.


In the morning (23rd), I was ordered to send a coy to take over from the 13th Bn who were also in difficulties through the firing of the village and were to be withdrawn.  I therefore moved C Coy up using jeeps and trailers at 0700 hrs but my own jeep was seen crossing a gap and the resulting MG burst caused a casualty in the leading troop carrying jeep.  This caused some delay as the men had to finish their journey through house gardens and fields on foot and the second lift had to go all the way on foot.  There was also considerably difficulty in getting the jeeps and trailers back again and these were urgently required to bring up amn and rations.


C Coy were in posn by 1100 hrs and 13 Bn duly withdrawn through them.  For the rest of the day and night, the bn was thus holding the whole of the Bde front with the other two bns in a very tired condition in rear.


The night of 23rd was another very wet one but everybody had improved their posns and managed to keep dry.


It was the policy of the Germans to pull out during the small hrs of the morning, so I visited C Coy very early on the 24th and ordered a small patrol to enter the village and the coy to stand by ready to move.  The patrol reported the village vacated so I moved the coy in with orders to search various likely places.  The Bde Comd then arrived himself and approved my orders and ordered the whole bn to follow into the village.


The remainder of the bn came up very quickly but there was inevitably a time lag between the arrival of C Coy in the village and the entry of the bn.  I occupied this time by

(a) searching the station and other likely areas,

(b) Sending a pl to occupy high ground in the area of the chateau at 513068.

(c) Requisitioning civilian cycles for

        (i) speeding patrolling of the environs of the village

        (ii) subsequent advance.


The Bde Comd appeared again at the same time as the remainder of the bn and ordered the bn to lead the adv: the 12 and 13 Bns were to follow up.  The pl at the chateau was to remain and would rejoin later.  Various bounds were laid down and the adv continued at a good light infantry pace.


The leading company (B) had sufficient requisitioned cycles to mount almost a complete section.  This section preceded the adv and were ordered to try and get straight through to the final bound; i.e. crossrds 5807.  Many of them fell by the wayside, as chains fell off and tyres punctured, but five got on and actually contacted the enemy on this bound carrying their cycles over the debris at 575055 where the rly br had been blown.


A pl had been left in PONT L'EVEQUE where it was hoped to raise a further supply of cycles.  This pl was to follow on its cycles and eventually overtake the marching tps and augment the initial cycle section.  Insufficient cycles were forthcoming however, and in the end, the pl arrived - some on cycles and some in carriers after the marching tps.


The bn was ordered to est a firmbase in the area of the blown br at 575055 so I put A Coy on the high ground about VILUX BOURG 5706, and C Coy in the area of the demolished br itself where there was a high rly embankment.  B Coy (the leading coy) were already on the high ground on the EAST of the rd attempting to dislodge the enemy which their cycle section had contacted.


The bn was later ordered into the area occupied by B Coy and the base became a Bde one.


At this stage, I found the lack of efficient communications in my mortar pl to be particularly noticeable.  The 38 sets of this pl were all out of action and although telephone sets were available they had no cable for them.  As a result, the mortars themselves were useless to me.  There were enemy MG posns in front of both fwd coys, which could have been destroyed in five minutes by mortars but I was powerless to bring fire on to them.


The bn spent a quiet night with barn accommodation for everyone except sentries and as usual the enemy withdrew during the night.


The next day (25th) was spent in improving posns and resulted in A Coy moving into the area ST BENOIT D'HEBERTOT 5806, C Coy into ST ANDRE D'HEBERTOT 5906 and HQ and B Coys midway between them.  All tps were under roofs and in some comfort.  Adm personnel again moved fwd and based themselves in Bn HQ locality.




At 2100 hrs on 25 Aug, I sent the 2IC (Maj Taylor MC) to Bde HQ to receive orders and passed these on to my own O gp at 2200 hrs.


Gist of orders were:-


Bde was to move to area BEUZEVILLE 6409 where it would be met by guides and would receive further orders.  Bde start point was crossrds 5806 (in A Coy's area).  7 Bn would lead and would cross start point at 0515 hrs on 26 Aug.


Numerous Adm difficulties were encountered and overcome and at precisely the ordered hr, the head of the bn crossed the start point to begin what later proved to be a most noteworthy feat of endurance.


I regard this march as definitely one of the most outstanding feats of the bn bearing in mind


(a) The state of the men's feet due to two month's static warfare followed by nine day's hard marching on roads.

(b) The fatigue of the men due to the strain and speed of events in the past nine days, which had included several long and fast marches.

(c) The hurried breakfast (eaten in the dark and in the fingers) at 0400 hrs on which it was made.

(d) The continued stream of tanks and tpt which passed the column incessantly and raised clouds of dust as it did so.


It was expected that men would fall out with foot trouble and ambulances were in fact following up to lift such cases.  The bn as stated led the column and marching at light infy pace, rapidly drew farther and farther ahead.  Not a single man fell out on the way and I later discovered that TCVs were used in a shuttle service to enable the other bns to keep up with us.


The march ended in PONT AUDEMER itself which was then occupied by the Ind Para Coy (lifted by MT) and the Div Armd Recce Regt (crusaders tks).


The main br was blown and the enemy were on the far bank.  I decided to put A and B Coys fwd and keep C Coy who had led the march in reserve by Bn HQ.  The fwd coys I ordered to put the men in houses back from the river, to search all houses in their areas, and to work snipers into the houses on the waterfront.


This was duly completed but not without cas.  B Coy during the initial reconnaissance by the coy comd (Capt Mills) and his protective section, came under MG fire at one point and suffered 6 cas.  (3 killed and 3 wounded).


The town itself was shelled and mortared occasionally and one mortar bomb landed in a yard amongst the mortar pl and caused some more cas.


The lack of an efficient means of comn between mortars and the fwd OP was again apparent but good work was done from the fwd posns by 2" mortar and PIAT.  This latter weapon I have found invaluable against bldgs.


During the evening (26th) Brig Elkins comdg 56 Ind Bde (attached 49 Div) arrived and informed me that he was crossing the river that night and would occupy the high ground on the other side.  My own Bde Comd also arrived and informed me that I would be under comd Brig Elkins until after this attack and would then be released and would come into a reserve rest posn (journey by MT).


The 56 Bde attack was not a success but the bn was duly released in the morning as the river had already been crossed further South and the enemy were to be mopped up by tps approaching from the SE.


The town was shelled again before the bn was released and several fires were started.


Casualties suffered during the follow up ops were as follows:-













The above wounded figures incl only those cas who were evacuated because of their wounds.  Several others (incl myself) received minor wounds, which were treated but did not necessitate evacuation.


In the Field

30 Aug 44.


[Signed R.G. Pine-Coffin.]

Lt-Col. Comd 7 Para Bn.