National Archives catalogue number WO 171/429.
Assistant Director Ordnance Services
Armoured Fighting Vehicle
Air Support Signal Unit
British / Bridge
Chief Signals Officer
Division / Divisional
General Staff Officer
Observation Post / Operation (if lower case)
Prisoner of War
Royal Armoured Corps
Royal Corps of Signals
Tactical Air Force
Month and year : June 1944
Commanding Officer : Lt. Col. D.S. Tew
3rd June 1944
Capt McMaster, Capt Westwood and 37 ORs embarked at SOUTHAMPTON. Gliders loaded.
4th June 1944
Parachutes loaded in planes. Operation OVERLORD postponed 24 hours due to weather conditions.
5th June 1944
Emplaned and took off from numerous aerodromes in S. ENGLAND. C.O., Adjt, Capt Pinnell, Lt Jenkins, 36 ORs J and K Secs by parachute; Major Fenton, Lt Bradshaw, Lt Bayliss and 57 ORs by glider. Operation orders attached.
6th June 1944
Landed in NORMANDY area HAUGER-RANVILLE parachutists 0100 hrs gliders 0330 hrs. Div HQ est in LE BAS DE RANVILLE at chateau 106737 by 0700 hrs. Considerable bombardment heard in direction of coast, but little enemy activity locally until attack on RANVILLE sp by AFVs successfully repulsed at 1045 hrs. Comn with 1 Corps est 0716 hours and line comn to 5 Para Bde. Comn est with UK at 0755 hours. 3 Para Bde were deficient of nearly all Signal eqpt on landing and comn was not est until 1235 hours. 6 Airldg Bde and L Sec landed by glider at 2100 hours. Comns est with 6 Airldg Bde at 2150 hours, 50 mins after bde landed. Air resup brought sig stores during night 6/7 Jun having been demanded during day on Q Base link from U.K. Cas Lt Royle and 2 ORs killed, Maj Fenton and 4 ORs wounded, Capt Wilks, Lt Gilbert and 72 ORs missing.
7th June 1944
More eqpt salvaged from DZ. Enemy activity increasing; Div HQ stood to 1145 hrs. Lines frequently cut by shell and mortar fire. Enemy armd UG cable blown by Lines offr. Cas. 1 OR killed, 3 ORs wounded, 7 ORs believed missing now located. Report on D and D + 1 attached.
8th June 1944
Maplay and codewords from 1 Corps compromised. Confusion over codesigns with 3 Br. Div. Capt McMaster and Capt Westwood and 37 ORs arrived 1815 hours as first follow up by sea, which included spare WT sets, cable and MT spares. Maj Donald arriving having landed with HQ 1 Corps. Capt Pinnell and 4 ORs wounded, 9 ORs believed missing now located.
9th June 1944
Attack on RANVILLE sp by hy shell and mortar fire. All available men at fire posns. Very successful repulse of attack by 12 DEVON. Line mtce very difficult under shell fire. Cas 2 ORs killed, Lt Col Tew, Maj Donald and 8 ORs wounded, 3 ORs missing. Lt Gilbert and 7 ORs believed missing now located in UK.
10th June 1944
Jamming experienced on 3 Br Div Link. Second Army slidex keys compromised. Hy shelling of Div HQ 1245 hrs. Attack from E beaten off. Line crew who were in a glider lost at sea returned by sea without eqpt. Signal office showed up by RE. 51 Div arrived in area. Comn est with them by WT. Cas 3 ORs wounded.
11th June 1944
Pigeons released to base, but nothing heard of their arrival. Cas 1 OR killed, 2 ORs wounded, 1 OR missing, 2 ORs believed missing now located.
12th June 1944
4 S.S. Bde under comd. Quiet day. Intermittent shelling of Div HQ made much line mtce necessary. Cas 3 ORs wounded 1 OR missing 1 OR believed missing now located.
13th June 1944
Div HQ heavily shelled 1120-1150 hours. C.S.O. Second Army visited. Air sp called for an ASSU link against enemy tp conc near BREVILLE. Typhoon rocket planes made successful attack. 6 Gliders reported by PW landed west of VARAVILLE. Cas 4 ORs wounded.
14th June 1944
Exceptionally heavy signal office traffic. Capt Curtis, Lt Aitchison and 43 ORs arrived with seaborne buildup, which included adm portion of unit. Further jamming on Div lateral net. All DR routes now safe. Cas 1 OR killed, 6 ORs wounded 1 OR missing.
16th June 1944
Hy shelling - 0430 for an hour followed by enemy recce in force. Pigeons released. All lines dis after shell burst on test point astride Signal office. Repaired in 2 hours. 13/18 Hussars under comd. Cas Lt Jenkins and 9 ORs wounded. 1 OR missing.
17th June 1944
Smoke shells in area. Cas 1 OR killed, 1 OR wounded 1 OR believed missing now located.
18th June 1944
154 Bde under comd. Pigeon release on 16 Jun returned starving. Considerable use made of German UG cables, which are NOT paper coved and can therefore be used after cutting (e.g. demolition).
19th June 1944
Shelling of Div HQ. Cas 1 OR wounded.
20th June 1944
Practice Stand-To at Div HQ showed 100 out of 150 R. Signals personnel available for defence.
21st June 1944
Cas. 4 ORs wounded.
22nd June 1944
Div dump set on fire by shell.
23rd June 1944
Heavy shelling of Div HQ for 40 mins, causing most lines to be cut. Policy for protection of lines decided on - buried lines where possible for D3 cable will not last in damp ground. Snakes of D3 particular bad for induction. Cas. Lt Moore and 1 OR injured.
24th June 1944
Pass words frequently compromised and substitutes caused confusion. Cas 1 OR wounded.
25th June 1944
Shelling of Div HQ too persistent, so location move to quarries 119758. Lines laid in anticipation of move. F & F swbd used and more German UG cable routes. 13/18 Hussars revert comd 3 Div. 51 Div now assigned def area S of PONT TOURNANT 1074.
26th June 1944
154 reverts comd 51 Div. 1 OR killed 1 OR believed missing now returned.
27th June 1944
28th June 1944
Some evidence that Germans dressed in British battledress are directing fire from behind our lines. Some interruption and attempted deception by enemy on mortar - OP group. Conversation finished by enemy saying "OK, Tommy, out".
29th June 1944
Cas Lt Smith and 1 OR wounded.
Month and year : July 1944
Commanding Officer : Lt. Col. E.S. Cole
1st July 1944
Lateral to 3 Br Div closed. Visit by Gen Crawford.
3rd July 1944
Capt Hart (OC B Sec) arrived from UK to comd J Sec. Front very static - enemy digging in and wiring. Flying bomb reported moving from NE to SW. Visit by General Browning. Attempts made to damage brs by enemy with floating mines.
5th July 1944
Enemy interference on RT link to 1 Corps. Captured enemy docs gave evidence of intentions to lay lines for intercepting our earth return circuits.
6th July 1944
General use of passwords now abandoned; for patrols and specific ops only. 35 ORs arrived on loan from Second Army Rfts Pool. Party of 5 Germans found in British denims, one in British helmet.
7th July 1944
Div HQ area straffed by 6 lowflying ac. Hy bomber attack on CAEN by 460 Lancasters, visible from this HQ. Bomb near br WEST of Div HQ.
8th July 1944
Suspected enemy transmission on link to 1 Corps using our call sign. Cas: 1 OR wounded.
9th July 1944
CAEN captured. Cas: 1 OR wounded.
10th July 1944
Report from 1 Corps that signal cable has been found booby-trapped.
11th July 1944
Air activity in area. Ma play compromised 11-14 Jul incl. ME 109 shot down by Div LAA.
12th July 1944
Air cover showed increased flooding of R.DIVES valley. VARAVILLE completely surrounded. Visit from CSO 1 Corps.
13th July 1944
Phone call War Office - 1 SS Bde successfully put through.
14th July 1944
Flying bomb passed over NW - SE. Ten ME 109 over Div HQ - one smoker. Aerial activity at night. Air cover reveals enemy using large bomb craters near MERVILLE bty for mortar posns.
16th July 1944
Investiture at Div HQ by General Montgomery, C-in-C. Cpl Waters (K Sec) received MM for conspicuous gallantry in laying and maintaining line across Pegasus bridge on D day. Maplay compromised to 18 Jul incl. PW infm states:- ASSU intercepted and decoded greatly reduced cas and damage. Also gave posn of Allied fwd tps from bombline. Time from interception to decoding - 20 mins. (Source - 1 Corps Int Summary No.22).
18th July 1944
Slight bombing and shelling of brs in early hours. Armd break-through by massed Br armour (8 Corps) coming EAST of R.ORNE and then wheeling SOUTH. Much cas caused to lines by new tracks and roads. Considerable infm gained of battle by interception and supplied to Div staff. Very bad tfc blocks. 11 Armd Div came on lateral link. Signal Office sustained direct hit from small bomb which disarranged sandbags but did not penetrate. Iron pipe containing snake pierced and all lines dis. Cas: 1 OR wounded.
20th July 1944
Considerable inductance in F & F swbd caused by damp. Cas: 5 ORs wounded, 5 ORs believed missing now located.
21st July 1944
Line jeep blown up by Hawkins grenade - no cas. 3 Para Bde out of reserve to area ESCOVILLE U 1271.
22nd July 1944
Lt. Col. D. Smallman Tew, Commanding Officer, killed by direct hit from shell on jeep at ESCOVILLE. Canadian ASSU tcle arrived with LO and C9. Col. Moberly CSO Airtps visited unit. Cas: Lt. Col. Tew and Lt Mutch killed.
23rd July 1944
Lt. Col. Tew buried at RANVILLE 111736. Div HQ area bombed, causing line damage. Cas: 1 OR killed.
24th July 1944
Div HQ area bombed. Lt. Col. E.S. Cole assumed comd.
25th July 1944
Cas: Capt Wilks and 1 OR previously reported missing now officially PW.
26th July 1944
Enemy working party of four seen wearing airborne berets.
27th July 1944
Div HQ area bombed with HE and A Per. One EA crashed. Unexploded mor bombs dated 1917.
28th July 1944
Visit from Russian Military Mission.
29th July 1944
EA activity - one EA crashed LONGUEMAR.
30th July 1944
1 Bucks under comd - one comd net.
31st July 1944
148 RAC under comd - on comd net. 1 SS Bde took over from 3 Para Bde. 3 Para Bde took over from 154 Bde. 5 Para Bde into reserve at RANVILLE.
Month and year : August 1944
Commanding Officer : Lt. Col. E.S. Cole
1st August 1944
Front extended so far SOUTH that signal centre was est at RANVILLE 108738. 49 Div took over from 51 Div on right flank. 5 Bde into reserve; relieved by 1 SS Bde. LCV arrived on loan for G branch.
2nd August 1944
Div HQ shelled - all earths out. Breakthrough into BREST peninsular by US forces. Cas 2 ORs wounded. Capt Wilks and 20 ORs officially confirmed PW.
3rd August 1944
Div HQ shelled. Reports from civilians that pigeons have been released from SALENELLES. Cas 2 ORs.
4th August 1944
Considerable use has been made of propaganda broadcasts using loudspeakers in trees installed by bde sig sec. Good results obtained. Div HQ bombed.
5th August 1944
PW states Germans were obtaining much infm from our WT tfc. RENNES captured by US forces.
6th August 1944
Cdn Army ASSU tentacle replaced No 2 ASSU tentacle.
7th August 1944
Div HQ shelled. Sig Centre at RANVILLE moved to HEROUVILLETTE 122723. PW stated much infm obtained by enemy intercept system (1 Corps Int Sum No.34). 5 Bde relieved 4 SS Bde. 1 OR wounded.
8th August 1944
Increased mortar activity as result of Cdn Corps drive SE of CAEN (Op TOTALISE). Cas 3 ORs wounded.
9th August 1944
Maj Donald, RSM Carr and 10 ORs arrived from UK. Pigeons brought by them released. Flank fmn 49 Div bombed by own ac. 49 Div probing forward SE which extends 6 Airborne Div right flank. Maj Gen Laycock visited Div HQ. Div School and Rest Camp est at RIVA BELLA 1078. Intention to give all personnel recreation and basic inf trg.
10th August 1944
Successful propaganda broadcasts made.
11th August 1944
Belgian Bde under comd 6 Airldg Bde and put on their comd net. B ech vehs parked near Div HQ and given line to Div exchange.
12th August 1944
Netherlands Contingent under comd and put on comd net. B ech vehs parked near Div HQ and given line to Div exchange. Cas 1 OR killed.
13th August 1944
1 Bucks under comd.
14th August 1944
Attack on OUISTREHAM expected from sea or across mudflats and comd post (LCV) est, but it did not materialise. Bombing of neighbouring fmn by RAF.
15th August 1944
Shells from A Tk gun and 21 cm rocket projector landed near Div HQ. 1 Bucks no longer under comd. Signs of enemy pulling out on all fronts.
16th August 1944
General advance probable on all fronts. Tac HQ est LE MESNIL 129726. UXB on Div HQ.
17th August 1944
Op PADDLE begun. This op entailed advance of whole Div on axis TROARN - DOZULE - PONT L'EVEQUE - ST. AUDEMER. Move at 0300 hrs. TROARN and FRANCEVILLE PLAGE captured. R.DIVES crossed. C33 det arrived from First Cdn Army to work RT link to 1 Corps owing to extreme ranges. ORLEANS captured by US forces.
18th August 1944
Orderly withdrawal of enemy with mines, demolition, rearguards, mortaring and shelling to a definite programme. Tac HQ moved to ST RICHER 186686 and augmented to become Main HQ. LCVs and Sig office dug in.
19th August 1944
Rear HQ moved to LE MESNIL 130728. Switching centre left at ECARDE 119757. PUTOT EN AUGE captured by 5 Para Bde. Rate of advance such that no line comn was possible with Rear Div DMA, ADOS and some bde rear echs. CABOURG holding out and by-passed. Cas 3 ORs killed, 5 ORs wounded.
20th August 1944
70 Bde Sig Sec (ex 49 Inf Div) attached complete. Considerable use made of LCVs, White Scout Cars (to bdes) and other eqpt, also personnel almost entirely absorbed into secs for present ops only. PW held in custody by Sig Office Rear Div owing to lack of suitable guard. Slight EA activity. Slidex and Maplay believed compromised to 220200 B from 200845 B. Cdos of 1 SS Bde out of physical contact and therefore batteries could not be sent up, and wireless comn was interrupted. Hy Army line det on loan to assist in extensive and speedy line laying to accompany advance.
21st August 1944
DOZULE captured. Rear HQ combined with Tac and Main HQ at ST RICHER 186686. CABOURG captured.
22nd August 1944
1 corps line det on loan. PONT L'EVEQUE entered by still held by enemy. One-man torpedo dump found. Main HQ moved to CRESSEVEUILLE 306742.
23rd August 1944
Prince BERNHARD of the Netherlands visited. Airborne op planned for 3 Para Bde but cancelled as found unnecessary. PONT L'EVEQUE and HONFLEUR captured. Main HQ moved to BEAUMONT EN AUGE 460030.
24th August 1944
Rear HQ moved to 460030.
25th August 1944
Div HQ moved to 598077. Considerable difficulty on all moves owing to lack of tpt. Ferry service always necessary.
26th August 1944
BEUZEVILLE occupied. Enemy in full retreat across SEINE. Recce in PONT AUDEMER and whole coast to NORTH firmly occupied. PONT AUDEMER evacuated and handed over to 49 Div. Div withdrawn for maximum rest.
27th August 1944
Div HQ moved to rest area. All additional fmns and units (Belgian and Netherlands contingents, RA Regts etc) removed from comd. 1 & 4 SS Bdes remain. ASSU tcle withdrawn. Corps and Army line dets returned. Cas 1 OR missing now confirmed killed.
28th August 1944
49 Div assumed control of Div area.
30th August 1944
Div in 21 Army Gp reserve. No operational commitments but link to 1 Corps maintained as only contact with any higher fmn.
Month and year : September 1944
Commanding Officer : Lt. Col. P.E.M. Bradley
1st September 1944
Location Canapville St Martin. 'A' Party departs for Bulford via Arromanches - Gosport.
2nd September 1944
'B' Party depart for Bulford via Arromanches - Southampton.
3rd September 1944
'C' Party depart for Bulford via Arromanches - Gosport.
4th September 1944
'D' Party depart for Bulford via Arromanches - Southampton.
5th September 1944
'E' Party depart for Bulford via Arromanches - Gosport.
7th September 1944
'F' Party depart for Bulford via Arromanches - Southampton. Equipment - Only special Airborne equipment and equipment in very short supply brought back to UK.
8th September 1944
Unit sent on 14 days Disembarkation/Embarkation leave.
Report by 6 Airborne Div Signals on Operations D Day and D plus 1
That Sigs provide the machinery for comd is an accepted fact. 6 Airborne Div Sigs had to provide in addition to that machinery:-
(i) the means for calling for sp from and firing another div's arty.
(ii) the calling for air sp by joining in on the ASSU net which is normally excl manned by specially trained ASSU personnel.
(iii) the notification direct to England of all requirements for re-sup by air.
All eqpt and personnel had to be transported by glider or parachute and all links had to be through by H hr.
That in a nutshell was what the unit was required to do.
Beside the Para Bde Sig Secs 4 Offrs and 36 ORs jumped with 12 Para Bn, with an initial role of assisting RE to demolish poles on the LZ. In spite of the difficulties of 20 men and 20 kitbags in the Stirlings the two sticks had successful but dispersed ldgs, the RSM striking a pole and sustaining a muscle injury and there were also sniping cas on the DZ.
Only a few arrived on the LZ before the gliders came in, but numerous individual adventures were met with before this. One man dropped in the garden of an enemy HQ in HEROUVILLETTE, and heard a quiet call of 'Tommy; Tommy'. Suspecting a trap, he threw a grenade, but it turned out to be a partisan armed with a Free French brassard and an early pattern Sten. He joined the party which formed out of other stragglers, but later disappeared, and this party was the first to arrive at the chateau which became Div HQ, but they were disappointed by the absence of Huns. On the way, however, a MG post was silenced at RANVILLE, which was a useful piece of work as it was firing across the LZ.
One offr found himself in a camp full of Polish manned arty, which received the attentions of the RAF while he was there, but the inmates were able to search for him and he took refuge in a tree.
Both the CO and Adjt found lines to demolish on their way in and later a buried cable was found with the aid of the local inhabitants and blown up by the Lines Offr. This was a little unfortunate, for according to the original plan this cable would not be required, although considerable use of it was subsequently made by 1 Corps.
Of the glider party a high proportion arrived with their jeeps and wireless sets intact, but a coy comd who accompanied the GSO 1 landed in a mined area near VARAVILLE owing to the pilot taking violent evasive action and snapping the tow rope. During D day he had numerous skirmishes with a surprising number of snipers, and he was struck by a mortar fragment so violently that his steel helmet was found with an enormous dent and would no longer fit on the head, but the sole injury was a grazed scalp. This coy comd arrived at 3 Para Bde HQ on the way and found that both Sig Offrs were missing and only 3 gliderborne sets had arrived with a few operators. He est vital comns, which gradually built up during the day as more sets were found in containers scattered over the countryside.
Div HQ was set up rapidly, each set to arrive was put on the next most important link irrespective of its normal function, to which end all operators were briefed in all links in UK. Comn with UK was est in 15 mins, and over this Base link demands for replacing losses were sent - the eqpt arriving by air in 12 hrs.
Pigeons were used by a party to announce their capture of the MERVILLE bty.
The Airldg Bde Sec which arrived at 2100 hrs on D day lost very little eqpt, but Para Bdes will probably not trust the uncertain kit bag and again for the majority of their sets.
The ASSU link passed five calls for air sp in the first two days, the most notable of which concerned a large party of cyclists who had come from HAVRE and had intended a vigorous attack from the EAST. This attack was completely broken up by air attack. On numerous occasions this ASSU link worked direct to HQ 2 TAF at UXBRIDGE.
In spite of exceptionally good wireless conditions on all links, a circling Spitfire habitually called for ground sigs at Div HQ every morning, until it was rumoured that it was one captured by the Hun for his own purposes.
If all airborne ops had such successful initial comns as OVERLORD, the battle would be as good as won before it started.