Lieutenant-Colonel Geoffrey Pine-Coffin

Lieutenant-Colonel Geoffrey Pine-Coffin

Lieutenant-Colonel Geoffrey Pine-Coffin during the making of the film, "The Red Beret"

Lieutenant-Colonel Geoffrey Pine-Coffin with Brigadier Poett in Normandy

Lieutenant-Colonel Pine-Coffin with Field Marshal Montgomery in the Ardennes

Lieutenant-Colonel Geoffrey Pine-Coffin in Normandy, 1955

Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Geoffrey Pine-Coffin


Unit : Battalion Headquarters, 7th Parachute Battalion

Army No. : 40705

Awards : Distinguished Service Order and Bar, Military Cross


Geoffrey Pine-Coffin was born in 1908 on the family estate in Devonshire. His unusual surname, which prompted his men to refer to him as "Wooden Box", had come through the union of the Pine and Coffin families in the late 18th Century. The Pine family had their roots in the village of Pyne, near Exeter, while the Coffin's are believed to have come to England with the Norman invaders of 1066. In the 1797, the two names were joined, though at this time the full surname was Pine-Bennett-Coffin. It was not long before the Bennett ingredient was removed. His family was beyond question of a militaristic nature, his father, Brevet Major J. E. Pine-Coffin DSO, served with distinction with the Maltese Mounted Infantry during the Boer War, whilst Geoffrey's elder brother, Lieutenant-Colonel Claude Pine-Coffin, served in the Far East during the 1930's but was captured by the Japanese when Singapore fell in February 1942. Fortunately, unlike many of his fellow servicemen, he survived the appalling experience of life as a prisoner of war.


Geoffrey Pine-Coffin was amongst the more experienced battalion commanders in the 6th Airborne Division, having transferred out of the Devonshire Regiment to join the 2nd Parachute Battalion at the time of their formation in late 1941, before being transferred to the 3rd Battalion as Second-in-Command. He was later given command of this Battalion and led them throughout the heavy fighting of the Tunisian campaign, from November 1942 to April 1943. When the 1st Parachute Brigade sailed to North Africa in late 1942, the 3rd Battalion was flown on ahead to Gibraltar in preparation for an operation to capture the airfield at Bone, in Tunisia. The drop took place during the early morning of the 12th November and the airfield was soon in the hands of the Battalion. A formation of German paratroopers had been ordered to carry out the same operation, however when they realised that the British had beaten them to it they returned to their own airfield. The 3rd Battalion was soon attacked by Stuka dive-bombers but this marked the only resistance to their occupation of the airfield, and several days later they were relieved. Over the following months, fighting as ordinary front-line infantry at Bou Arada and the prolonged Battle of Tamera, the Parachute Regiment earned the respect of Allies and enemy alike for their excellent fighting ability. For his performance throughout the campaign, Lieutenant-Colonel Pine-Coffin was awarded the Military Cross:


This Officer has commanded his Battalion with skill and gallantry throughout the campaign and by his example has been an inspiration to all ranks. Flying out from the U.K., he led his command with the utmost gallantry during the Parachute drop on BONE Aerodrome. Distinguishing himself at the battle for GREEN HILL (SEDJENANE sector) in January 1943 whilst under command of the 36 Brigade., he earned praise from the Commander for his energetic devotion to duty and daring reconnaissances. Again at BOU ARADA on the 26th February 1943 he gallantly led his Battalion in the most successful defence of the Sector, during which enormous casualties were inflicted on the enemy and many prisoners captured. Whilst the Brigade was operating in the TAMERA Sector he again distinguished himself by the handling of his Battalion during the enemy and our own attacks.


Following the Allied victory in North Africa, the 3rd Battalion made preparations for the airborne invasion of Sicily, however Lieutenant-Colonel Pine-Coffin was ordered to leave them and return to England, where he assumed command of the 7th (Light Infantry) Parachute Battalion.


What follows are the words of Geoffrey Pine-Coffin, describing the Normandy campaign from his perspective. These details have been taken from the book, "The Tale of Two Bridges" by Barbara Maddox, and I am indebted to Peter Pine-Coffin for granting me permission to repeat elements of his father's diary on this page. This excellent book, describing the actions of the 7th Battalion throughout the campaign, contains much more information, both in respect of Lieutenant-Colonel Pine-Coffin and certainly of the Battalion's wider role, than has been included here. Copies may still be purchased via


"The training policy was laid down by Major General R. H. Gale, Commander of the 6th Airborne Division, and was carefully explained to all ranks so that each officer and man knew the reason for every exercise he was called upon to do. Even the most unobservant could not fail to notice that he was part of a Division which was growing rapidly and, at the same time, was one that was going to live up to its motto 'Go To It'. There was a life and energy about every phase of life. Everyone put all they knew into everything they did, whether it was working or playing, and as a result a splendid spirit of comradeship developed automatically throughout the Division. The Battalion, for its part, always possessed a distinct spirit of its own, just as some individuals have a pronounced personality. No-one has ever been able to describe just what this spirit is and no attempt will be made here, suffice to say that it exists to a marked degree and that it grew stronger as time went on."


"The eastern edge of the Allied bridgehead was bounded by the Caen Canal which runs between Ouistreham, on the coast, and the town from which it takes its name; parallel to this canal, and four hundred yards to the east of it, runs the River Orne. One road crosses these two water obstacles and it does so at right angles from the little village of Bénouville, crossing the canal by a swing bridge, pivoted at the centre... The seizure of these bridges intact was very desirable, but not absolutely vital. General Gale planned to get them by surprise with a coup-de-main force to be landed in gliders right on the bridges themselves and thirty minutes before the main parachute landing... The Battalion was selected for the job of holding the bridges themselves and, with them, the west flank of the Divisional Bridgehead until such a time as the seaborne troops closed the gap. It also had the subsidiary job of establishing contact with these seaborne troops. The coup-de-main party, which consisted of some seventy members of the 2nd Battalion Oxford and Buck's under the command of Major J. Howard, was to come under the command of the Battalion as soon as it had done its job."


"The Battalion was to establish a bridgehead west of the canal, whether or not the bridges had been blown. In addition, a battery position was to be neutralised and occupied. First contact with the seaborne troops was to be expected about 11am on D-Day and was to be with No.2 Commando Brigade under Brigadier Lord Lovat, DSO, MC... It would, however, be several hours ahead of the bulk of the troops as its orders were to forces its way through somehow and not wait for the main forces, whose advance was to be systematic and therefore slower. These main forces were expected to reach the canal by about 5pm and, until they arrived, the holding off of all attacks and the Divisional Bridgehead from the west would fall wholly on the Battalion and the coup-de-main force. The Battalion had been given a plum job, but the responsibility was a very heavy one."


On the 1st June "The Battalion left Bulford and moved to its transit camp at Tilshead, where it was sealed in with elaborate precautions to prevent exit from, or unauthorised entry into, the camp. A briefing room was set up in the camp in which the intelligence section, under Lieutenant Mills, worked day and night, preparing models and displaying the photographs and other exhibits to the best advantage and in making large-scale maps for use at the Battalion briefing. In a parachute operation it is of vital importance for everyone to know the plan as a whole, as anyone may well be dropped in the wrong spot and end up fighting in some Company, or even a Battalion, other than his own... The entire Battalion was assembled in a suitable place, actually the Garrison Cinema, and there the Commanding Officer {Lieutenant-Colonel Pine-Coffin} outlined the Divisional and the Brigade plans, but was careful not to mention which unit was to do any particular job. Lieutenant Mills then took the stage and described the topography of the area, information of the known and suspected enemy positions in it, probably attitudes of the civilians and a number of relevant points. The Battalion then broke for a smoke and a chat and finally I took the stage once more, but this time in a silence that was almost overpowering. With the aid of a large-scale map I pointed out which of the roles had been allotted to the Battalion and then ran through the Battalion plan in outline, again being careful not to name any specific Company at any time. During the remaining days at Tilshead the briefing room was allotted to companies and the various Commanders briefed their men in their own particular jobs with the comforting knowledge that the general plan was already known and the men could safely be allowed to concentrate on their own particular job."


"The Battalion plan had to be a double one because no-one could say whether or not the bridges would be captured, or, if they were captured, whether they would be blown or not. In either event though the main landing was to be at 0050hrs on the night before D-Day. And the Battalion rendezvous (RV) was to be a feature at the west end of the DZ. If the main party had managed to get the bridges intact Howard was to signal this success by blowing Victory Vs on a whistle and firing from a Bren, and the Battalion would double across both and go straight to its pre-arranged positions to the west of the canal. This was the ideal plan, but it seemed too good to hope for. In the more complicated event of the bridges not having been captured or if they had been blown, the crossing of the two water obstacles at night would present quite as big a problem as one wanted. There would, of course, be Germans about the place, intent on making it even more difficult. This seemed a very likely thing to happen, so boating equipment was to be carried. Fifty-two RAF-type inflatable dinghies, two folding recce boats and long lengths of rope had somehow to be added to the normal equipment which would be carried, and a parachutist carries everything on his back, because he has no transport at first. Two fairly similar water obstacles exist at Countess Weare, near Exeter, and the Battalion spent five very pleasant days down there practicing crossings by day and night with this type of equipment. No one except myself knew, at that time, the significance of this training, but everyone realised it was of more than usual importance and got down to it in earnest, and at the end of the period the crossing of each obstacle was only a matter of minutes."


"On June 3rd all preparations were made for an early start to take place the following morning, because the Cipher signal had been received stating that D-Day would be the 5th of June. In the early evening, though, another signal came in announcing postponement of twenty-four hours. This meant another comfortable night {at Tilshead Barracks}, but most members of the Battalion found it an odd sensation to lie in a peaceful bed knowing that the following night, at the same time, they would be descending behind enemy lines on a parachute. On 5th June the Battalion moved off as arranged, and arrived at the halting camp {a tented camp, two miles from RAF Fairford} in time for a hot mid-day meal. The next couple of hours or so were spent on the airfield itself where there was much to be done. Parachutes were drawn and harnesses adjusted carefully to fit over the equipment which would be worn, aircraft were examined and the pilots and aircrews met for the first time. These things are matters which cannot be rushed for obvious reasons and it was late afternoon before the Battalion returned to their camp for as much sleep as could be filled in."


That night the 7th Battalion took off and headed for France. "The pilots were having considerable difficulty pin-pointing the DZ, which was hardly surprising because the moon which should have been shining brightly was obscured at that time by clouds - as a result planes were running in from all angles, which greatly confused the men on the ground until they realised what was happening. The enemy had been caught by surprise, but soon made the DZ an unhealthy spot by firing across it from various positions. The Germans use tracer ammunition considerably and the sight of this criss-crossing over the ground presented a rather pretty picture to the descending parachutist from three hundred feet and, in some cases, considerably lower, so there was only about ten seconds in which to admire the display before it became much too personal for it to be appreciated. The advance party, who had jumped from Albemarles thirty minutes before the main drop and included, as representatives from the Battalion, Lieutenant Rogers and Privates Wing, Moran, Starke and Styles, carried an Aldis lamp with a green mask, as a rallying guide for the Battalion. Their pilot had found it difficult to pinpoint the DZ accurately enough to drop them near any particular part of it and, as a result, Rogers, complete with his lamp, had not located the Rendezvous (RV) himself by the time of the main drop and was separated from the rest of his party."


Rogers nevertheless shone his lamp to rally his party about him, however the first man who presented himself was Lieutenant-Colonel Pine-Coffin, struggling with a bruised ankle. "Myself and Lieutenant Rogers collected many wanderers in their search for the RV. It was a most desperate feeling to know that one was so close to it, but not knowing in which direction it lay. Time was slipping by and the coup-de-main party might well be in difficulties. Everything could so easily be lost if the Battalion did not arrive in time, it was impossible to pick a landmark though until a chance flare, dropped by one of the aircraft, illuminated the church at Ranville, with its most distinctive double tower, and thus provided the necessary clue." At 01:45, Pine-Coffin and his party reached the RV and found the remainder of the Battalion there. However after having been on the ground for almost an hour, approximately only 25% of the Battalion had arrived. Faced with the urgent need to get to the bridges in any strength, Pine-Coffin decided to set out once 50% of his men had arrived. He left his Second-in-Command, Major Steele-Baume, at the RV to gather further men and follow after him later.


"The signals {from the coup-de-main force, announcing the successful capture of the bridges} could now be heard plainly so the pace was stepped up, and soon the Orne bridge was reached and seen to be intact, Howard's men on it. As the bridges were intact I took my force over them with all speed and ordered them into their pre-arranged bridgehead positions in Bénouville. 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 around and into them, I would not only assist him but would also save time. It was 0140hrs when I crossed the canal bridge with this force."


"The occupation of the bridgehead 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 firearms fire as there was no wireless. I contacted Howard and congratulated him on his success and was given a brief account on the situation. Brigadier Poett, everyone was pleased to note, was also there and very happy looking he was too, as well he might be. Things were going well. Both bridges had been captured and both were intact. The simplest of plans could now be used and all the heavy boating equipment could be dumped. When I judged that the positions had been occupied, at about 0210hrs, 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. The distance between the two bridges was only about four hundred yards, but it contained plenty of evidence of the thoroughness with which Howard's men had done their job."


"Many of the Battalion got their first sight of a dead German on that bit of road and few will forget it in a hurry, particularly the one who had been hit with a tank-busting bomb whilst riding a bicycle. He was not a pretty sight. Steele-Baume and rear Battalion HQ, which still included no mortars, medium machine guns (MMGs) or wireless, joined me on the west bank of the canal at 0220hrs. Howard's men were naturally in very high spirits and much friendly banter and chaff took place as the Battalion had hurried past them. They had done a most splendid job which rendered the task of the Battalion immeasurably easier. There would now be a bridgehead on the west side of the canal for certain and, with any luck at all, it would be as deep as planned too."


"The leading troops crossed the canal bridge at 0240hrs and moved straight to their allotted positions. I took my stand by the canal bridge itself to deal with the various problems of the Commanders as they passed. The chief problems were connected with the various battle outposts, the loss of the wireless was particularly handicapping. "B" Company were much troubled by snipers in Le Port and were also heavily attacked in their positions on the wooded escarpment. Soon after daylight the lack of mortars and MMGs became uncomfortably apparent and a modification of the original dispositions was called for. "B" Company 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. "C" Company were almost completely split up into battle outposts. The battle outpost one was a difficult one because each outpost was small and highly trained for its specific job. Now they were not complete. They had the best employment of specialists, such as mortar men, machine gunners and signallers, none of the containers had been recovered and they were, therefore, without their leader. It had been intended to hold one Platoon of "C" Company as a small reserve force at Battalion HQ, this was a small enough reserve in all conscience, but now it had to be reduced even further in order to bring the outposts up to strength. I had altered the original orders to these outposts about withdrawal but, 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. Only under heavy pressure. None of them did so withdraw. The outpost Commanders knew they had to remain in their areas whatever the opposition against them and, having given the Commanders the authority to withdraw, watched them move off into the night with considerable anxiety. These outposts did sterling work."


"The rifle companies were about 50% strength (less casualties which they were suffering at the time). A few personnel of the mortar and MMG Platoons were available, but armed only with pistols. These I retained at my HQ to augment the counter-attack force which consisted of "C" Company (less two Platoons and Commander (missing)). These were all specially selected men and would be first class in action, but they were not now armed to fight at anything but close quarters. Each carried a pistol with which they would defend themselves if their specialist weapons were overrun, some had fortunately retained the Sten gun which every parachutist carries for immediate use on landing. Battalion HQ was established at 0230 in the position that had been selected for it from the model and it was then possible to reflect on the situation as it stood."


"I decided to hold the enemy on the line of the road running north-south from Le Port to Bénouville. The plan was for "B" Company to infest the southern half of Le Port and the wood on the north side of the road junction and to prevent any break-through 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 by fire and was well placed to launch a counter attack. The gallant fight being put up by "A" Company 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 Platoon of "B" Company (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 proportion of Howard's men back to the west side of the bridge, as the Battalion was now pitifully weak in numbers. The actual number available, in all ranks, did not quite touch two hundred, excluding Howard's party which could produce seventy more. 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."


"I estimated 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 bridgehead was necessary. The part of Le Port nearest the canal was never completely cleared of snipers who made life a precarious affair in the area of Battalion Headquarters. As soon as one was cleared from one place others would appear elsewhere, even to return to the same place. They were not very original although their courage could not be denied. The church tower was a particularly popular spot and was undoubtedly a first class choice, if rather an obvious one on the part of the sniper to use it. No sooner had one been silenced, usually with a large Bren gun, than another would start from the same place." The snipers in the church tower were finally dealt with after permission had been obtained from Pine-Coffin to fire a PIAT bomb at it; Corporal Killean's single shot killing all twelve snipers in the tower.


"One of the weapons which the Germans had installed for the defence of the bridge was a 40mm electrically fired gun. The Germans disrupted the wiring system before they left, but did no actual damage to the gun itself. Two of Thomas's men tinkered with it for a couple of hours and not only got it going again, but even zeroed it against a nearby bank. They found it fired 5 feet below at 300 yards. The gun was subsequently used, with great success, against snipers who fired from the windows of the chateau and at people crossing the bridge. One of the chief problems of this bridge Platoon was how to deal with the very large numbers of extremely excited and voluble refugees who wanted to cross. They did not know which way they wanted to go, but were very frightened and wanted someone to take them under control. Obviously they could not be allowed to stream across whichever way they wished as there was always a chance that they would later contact the Germans and report what they had seen. There might even be Germans concealed among them. Thomas's Platoon had the job of separating the men from the women and children and herding them into hastily improvised cages. The obvious pleasure of these civilians at meeting British soldiers on the bridge was most noticeable and gratifying, but their attempts to shake hands personally with everyone had to be discouraged as it took so long."


At dawn, the thoughts of the Battalion turned to the beach landings. "It was a curious feeling to be in such a privileged position and, at the same time, an extremely unpleasant one. The parachutist fights a rather lonely battle, forming an island in enemy country and defending it against attacks from any direction. They have no real front or rear and get the feeling that he is fighting a war all by himself. Now everyone knew the moment when all hell would break loose and when the enemy confronting him would be given something else to worry them, and what a worry too. There were some very wry faces when the watches pointed to 7am and nothing could be heard except the small arms firing and bursting of mortar bombs which everyone had got used to. We had overlooked the fact that H Hour, 7am, was the time at which the guns would be fired and not the moment when we would hear the explosion of shells. Actually the ships were some distance out in the Channel and the shells took a measurable time themselves to reach their targets and the sound of the explosions took further time to travel the three odd miles to battle position. It was a full minute after seven when the sound was heard. The noise, when it came, far exceeded all expectations and was quite indescribable both in intensity and duration, but it was music to the Battalion and spirits rose with the rumbling of it. The sense of fighting a lone battle passed completely, even fatigue was forgotten. The big show had begun and now it would only be a matter of time before the seaborne troops arrived on the scene and the battle for the bridge could be regarded as completely won."


At about 13:00, Lord Lovat's Commandos were heard approaching thanks to the sound of Piper Bill Millin. This signal, heralding their arrival, was to be answered by a bugle call from the 7th Battalion if the bridges were safe and uncontested. "The temptation to reply by bugle was strong but had to be resisted because the way was not clear. Attacks were still being launched on the Battalion position and there was also snipers in Le Port, and until the whole of Le Port was cleared this was not the case. Private Chambers was forbidden to sound off and the Commandos made a slower and more cautious entry into Le Port than they otherwise would have done. There was plenty of time for chatting anyhow as the actual crossing of the canal bridge was to be something of a ceremony which took quite a bit of organising. Eventually it was all teed up and at 2pm the piper led the way across the bridge, skirling away on his pipes, followed by Lord Lovat. It was an impressive sight and they got across without a shot being fired at them."


"At 7pm General Gale paid another trip to the Battalion and informed me that he was then in touch with the seaborne troops by wireless and that he had informed them that the relief of the Battalion must be treated as a first priority job. He gave generous praise to the efforts of the Battalion at chatted with the casualties who were in the first aid post at the time."


""A" Company were, as suspected, surrounded and hard pressed, but nevertheless fighting back hard. A counter attack was clearly necessary to enable them to collect in their wounded and re-group. I detailed the Platoon of "C" Company who formed my counter attack force (Lt. McDonald) for the job and replaced them temporarily with a Platoon from Howard. Webber led this Platoon to "A" Company area which involved working their way through the attacking Germans. The Platoon was, however, not strong enough (only about 17) to launch an attack that had sufficient effect on the attackers and in the end reinforced "A" Company was itself surrounded. Its presence brought little relief to the Company however. "A" Company had been fighting for 17 hours, unassisted, against superior numbers of infantry supported by tanks and self propelled guns. "A" Company destroyed one Mark IV tank and one self-propelled gun with German bombs. The Company was in good heart, but tired and weakened by casualties. The position at this stage was not very comforting because, although I felt confident of holding off attacks for some time to come, there still 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 decided to make a really determined attack with a large force." Fortunately, the 2nd Warwickshires arrived in the vicinity of Bénouville at 21:15 and, putting in a counter-attack towards "A" Company, were able to relieve them and allow for their removal by midnight. Thereafter the 7th Battalion retired across the bridges to Ranville.


"I stationed myself on the bridge itself again to check them over. Bit by bit they came through. Tired, dirty, hungry and many of them wounded as well, but all marching with their heads held high. In amongst them were troops of the Air Landing Brigade who had come in during the late afternoon in what seemed a never ending stream of tugs and gliders to land on both sides of the two water obstacles. These formed an odd contrast with their freshness and cleanliness, to the battle weary men of the Battalion."


"By 9.30pm myself and Lt. Mills (IO) had a period of complete inactivity in front of us for an indefinite period. The Battalion was all across the bridge except for "A" Company and ourselves; the relief of "A" Company was taking longer than expected. The responsibility for the defence of the bridge had already passed to the relieving Battalion and there was nothing to do but wait for the relief to be completed. The difficulty was to keep awake and this could best be done by constant movement, so myself and Mills moved up and down watching anything of interest that we could find. Time passed slowly and it was gathered from reports coming in that the Germans were proving very difficult to dislodge from some of the houses in "A" Company's area. They were using their usual tactics of shooting from one house and then moving to another so that the attacking troops would enter an empty house and very often come under fire as they did so from another direction. The Company were working their way through the village systematically and every now and then small parties of "A" Company would come back as they were relieved. It was impossible to keep anything like an accurate check on casualties as some were being evacuated towards the beaches direct through the seaborne field ambulances, whereas those handled by airborne field ambulances were evacuated over the bridges into Ranville. It was well after midnight when the last of the troops of "A" Company came through the bridge and, after a final check up, myself and Mills passed over the bridges ourselves, this was just after 1am."


"Thus ended the first day of action for the Battalion. It had been a particularly full day and had cost much blood and sweat, but the objective had been achieved and it was a comforting thought to reflect that, during the whole 23 hours of operation, not a single German other than prisoners had set foot on the bridge. With the arrival of the seaborne forces the west side of the Divisional bridgehead was secured firmly and the whole Battalion was freed to face the other way and re-join the rest of the Division."


"The trenches dug that night were a travesty of the text book examples as practically everyone, when they had dug down about a foot, fell into the trench and was asleep immediately. Sentries were changed every half an hour as a precaution against falling asleep. This was not too severe a strain as there were only four more hours before daylight and it was interesting to note how extremely accurate the briefing models had been in comparison to the real thing, and to try to spot where one's wanderings after the drop had taken one. The whole area was now covered with gliders and bits of these were found to be very useful for making head covers for the slit trenches. There were few who were not experts at digging slit trenches by this time, but these became very quickly as good as the rest as it was frequently under accurate shell and mortar fire from across the DZ. Several casualties were suffered as a result of it because it is not possible for everyone to live, like a mole, permanently below the level of the ground. It is, in fact, an extremely bad thing if anyone develops a tendency to do so. Life continues more or less normally despite the shelling and everyone became very quick at diving into cover."


Besides shellfire, another German tactic was to infiltrate small parties into the British lines to snipe their enemy. "This resulted in some amusing incidents occurring in this connection because the gliders were an object of interest to both sides and nothing will prevent a British soldier from looking at things that are a novelty to him. Parties of two or three would slip out of their position onto the DZ with the object of exploring the nearest glider, but from this one they would pass to the next and so on until they got well out onto the DZ. Several such parties bumped into similar German parties who had, presumably, left their own lines for the exploration of the gliders too. Often the Germans would surrender, but sometimes they would make a fight of it. It was an unnecessary risk for men to take but, fortunately, no harm came of it and the Wehrmacht was deprived of a few of its men as a result. Commandos were at somewhat of a loss when a couple of men, who had not permission to be out at all, returned to their area, proudly escorting a party of prisoners or bringing in documents of Germans, who had decided to fight it out but had lost the fight."


On the 10th June, a strong German for of the 346th Division forced an opening in the Bréville Gap and surged towards Ranville. As they made their way across LZ-N, they were spotted by the 13th Parachute Battalion, who immediately brought them to a halt under withering fire. The 7th Battalion also observed the enemy attack as it was forming. "When I arrived on the scene, this was in response to a request to open up "on large numbers of the enemy located in the open", I found that the snipers could fire immediately as they had all preparations in anticipation. I gave the word... The attack was halted and the attackers, being badly shot up, made for the nearest cover, which was a series of small woods which lay immediately between the two parachute Brigades, but were not occupied by either. Their presence there was highly undesirable as they were, literally, a thorn in the side of both Brigades; a thorn in a very awkward side too, being just beyond the comfortable reach of either Brigade."


The 7th Battalion, assisted by the tanks of "B" Squadron the 13th/18th Royal Hussars, were ordered to clear the enemy from the Le Mariquet woodland. "It was not expected that there would be any difficulty in carrying out the job, as the enemy must be considerably disorganised and would be numerically inferior, without food, reserves of ammunition and altogether in pretty poor shape. A bullet travels just as fast though, whatever the odds against the first man who fires it, and in this attack, as in any other, men of the Battalion would be killed and others wounded. It was altogether a thoroughly unpleasant job, generally considered "a bit of cake", with little kudos for success and much blame for failure. It was nevertheless a job and an important one too. It was difficult to determine the nature of the country beyond the woods, it looked like grass, probably was, but might be anything and of any height. Two features were quite definite though, first a road which bordered the long side of the displaced wood, to continue into 3 Brigade area, and second a track which branched off from this road at right angles, to cross the end of the displaced wood at a distance from it of 200 yards. Control would be difficult in the woods, particularly against an enemy in scattered positions and employing sniper tactics, which was more than probable. An extremely simple plan was laid on, which would allow for plenty of modification as the situation developed."


Lieutenant-Colonel Pine-Coffin's plan was for "B" Squadron's tanks to put two minute's worth of fire into the woods and then lay down a barrage of smoke for the 7th Battalion to advance beneath. With "C" Company detached from the Battalion at this time, filling a gap in the defences at Le Bas de Ranville, the attack would proceed with just "A" and "B" Companies. "B" Company would lead the way and secure the first wood, then "A" Company would pass through them to assault the second, whilst "B" Company then made preparations to move against the enemy in the displaced wood. "It was raining hard at the time and conditions for reconnaissance were further complicated by the presence of an unusually large number of Germans in the gliders on the DZ. These were being kept under close observation by the troops in the vicinity, who were having quite a serious shooting match with them and did not appreciate the sudden appearance of various officers, complete with binoculars and a desire to study their battlefield."


"It soon became obvious that only eight tanks were going to appear and that those were employing tactics which were not strictly in accordance with the plan. The first two laid off from the first wood and fired into it exactly as planned, but the others went straight past and fired into the other woods as soon as they arrived, which was, of course, well before the infantry could get there. As a result the Germans were completely shot up and many of them killed, but the tanks remained stationary for anything up to twenty minutes and paid the penalty for doing so. Five out of the eight were hit by anti-tank guns and went up in flames. Fortunately the crews escaped in each case, but from a taxpayers point of view it was an extremely expensive operation. "B" Company led off a few minutes after 4pm, followed by Advanced Battalion HQ, and found that the first wood was no more than an orchard and the second one not much thicker. They were ordered to take them both while "A" Company were moved onto the start line to tackle the displaced wood. "B" Company found nothing in the orchard, but encountered a bit of trouble from snipers in the thick hedges bordering the second wood. Major Neale, the Commander, very wisely ignored the snipers until he had reached, and secured, the limit of his objective. He could then afford to locate and deal with them one by one."


The 7th Battalion's actions at Le Mariquet were extremely successful and led to the capture of approximately one hundred prisoners at the cost of few casualties. "These prisoners presented a curious spectacle... They were formed up in three ranks, suitably spaced out, and had laid all the contents of their pockets and pouches on the ground in front of them, as if for a kit inspection. When Advanced Battalion HQ arrived on the scene, they had just been ordered to remove their jackets as well and were all standing rigidly to attention and looking very silly indeed in their vests. They were a much older lot than one would have expected and many of them had grey hair and lined faces. They all seemed very glad to be out of the war with a whole skin. The collection of prisoners and their  despatch to the rear took rather a long time so I decided to take a risk over the remainder of the drive in order to complete the whole operation without further delay. "B" Company were passed through "A" onto the track, with orders to push right on, keeping direction by the road on their right flank. Advanced Battalion HQ would follow them up and would move along the road itself." As it happened, the risk proved to be an anti-climax and no further opposition was encountered. At the end of their advance, Pine-Coffin however did find awaiting him a rather impatient Captain of the 3rd Parachute Brigade who led him to Brigadier Hill's Headquarters. After having journeyed a little distance, Brigadier Poett appeared in his Jeep and drove them the remainder of the way.


On the same day, the 10th June, the 7th Battalion were ordered to assisted the 2nd Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry at Herouvillette, whose lines had been threatened since the Germans had discovered a gap in the British lines to the east of the village. The Battalion filled this gap, centred around a farmhouse. ""C" Company, under Major Bartlett, was in a most imposing looking mansion with stables (empty) and ample grounds, including a training gallop. The place had been a German training college for engineers, but had left in such a hurry that it was littered with files and fuses and other gadgets for booby traps. There was some anxiety that the place had been booby trapped itself, but this was not so. The exhibits were handed over to the right quarter, where they were of considerable interest, while "C" Company found some beer in the cellar which interested them too."


At 04:00 on the following morning, the Battalion was subjected to a period of shelling in advance of an infantry assault. "Almost the first shell struck the side of Battalion HQ, knocking the wall in completely and burying, but not hurting, L/Cpl Emery and Private Strudwick (my batman) and the Second-in-Command {Major Steele-Baume}. A heavy concentration was directed onto the village generally, but did comparatively little harm as everyone was in their slit trench before it even began. The width of this concentration and the fact that it had begun at a precise time, shortly before dawn, suggested that it would be followed by an infantry attack probably by dawn or just after. Soon before dawn "B" Company reported movement in the wood to their immediate front. No fire was opened up though, but a close watch was maintained and constant reports were sent back to Battalion HQ. Time passed but the attack did not start. It seemed that the Germans were having to do a bit of sorting out before they could begin. At 8.00am it was decided to make their decision for them and both the mortars and the guns were given the orders to open fire on the wood, all watched with great interest by "B" Company. Germans ran in all directions, some of them coming towards "B" Company, only to be picked off by rifle fire."


With no indication that the Germans in the wood planned or move or attack, Lieutenant-Colonel Pine-Coffin ordered "A" Company to advance and deal with them. "A slight difficulty arose at this stage because, although "A" Company moved right up to their start line and were all ready to go in by 10.30am, it took a full half-hour to stop the artillery from firing. Various extra batteries had been roped in and the gunners were having a grand time. I spent an irritating period on the wireless demanding that all artillery fire cease and eventually it was so. Lt. Parrish was then ordered to take his Company in and clear the wood. The prisoners were a scruffy looking crowd and, surprisingly, did not include a single officer amongst them. There was, however, a Sergeant Major who, under interrogation, said that the force was a company and that he was in command of it. He added that none of his officers had taken part in the attack, but had done all the planning; he also volunteered his own personal opinion of his officers, which was not a good one... This second attack was not followed immediately by another and, as the days went by, it seemed less likely that there would be one and the atmosphere in the village became less tense."


"Everyone enjoyed their stay at Herouvillette except for the occasion when, through some error, the village was attacked by the RAF using rocket-firing Typhoons. These are certainly the most alarming weapons when you are at the wrong end of them and it was a great relief when they had fired them off and gone away. Fortunately the casualties from this were extremely light."


Due to the arrival of the 51st Highland Division along the southern flank of the Bridgehead, between the 11th and 14th June, the 6th Airborne's positions were reorganised and the beleaguered 3rd Parachute Brigade were withdrawn for a period of rest. The 7th Battalion assumed control of the Bois de Bavent, previously handled most ably by the 8th Battalion. "The Battalion policy was based on two propositions, first that an area which contained the bulk of the Battalion, and was encircled by tracks and the road, was to be regarded as sacred to the Battalion and any German who entered it was to pay with his life or his liberty; and second, that patrol ascendancy was to be obtained from the start. Gaining of patrol ascendancy was an interesting game and tackled systematically and with great enthusiasm by all concerned. The intelligence section, under the indefatigable Lieutenant Mills, worked literally day and night and prepared in the first instance a large-scale map of the whole Battalion area and went as far as La Priere. Known features were given code names for easy reference but, as some of these were unprintable, they cannot be repeated here... I ordered that nothing was to be included which was not known for certain to be accurate, as the whole patrol policy would be laid down from this map."


"The earlier patrols were nearly all sent out with the object of gathering topographical information. They always went out at night and as they were not required to get information about the enemy, and had been ordered to avoid contact with him, they gained valuable experience of patrolling in bocage country without suffering casualties in the gaining of it. This, in its turn, produced added confidence and a thorough personal knowledge of the ground in front. Information about the enemy and the location of his chief positions was gained by the lookouts in the forward posts, who were, in many cases, within 100 yards of similar German posts. The Battalion snipers really came into their own and would disappear to the east for the whole day with their pockets stuffed with chocolates and biscuits and return in the evening with few several new notches on their rifles... These snipers, in addition to picking off several Germans themselves, kept the enemy in a state of continual suspense and usually brought back with them useful information of enemy positions and relief systems."


"The enemy, for their part, were not completely inactive either and certainly carried out a number of patrols that we knew nothing about and which resulted in them learning the location of some of the positions. Practically every one of our positions seen had an alternative one and many of them had more than one; though despite these precautions casualties were suffered from the shelling and the mortaring which went on, intermittently, most of the time. An effective counter mortar system was operated through Brigade HQ and, after a few teething troubles, became most effective. As soon as an enemy mortar or gun opened up on any part of the Brigade front the telephone lines would hum with compass bearings and other details and within five minutes the enemy themselves would be getting back three bombs for every one they sent over."


"The sector was eventually handed back to the 8th Battalion and the Battalion moved back for its first spell in the rest area. The Divisional Rest Area (DRA) was as far from the enemy as it could be, while still remaining in the bridgehead, but this meant that it was close to the bridges which were a target for the nightly bombing attacks. It was also the gun position area of the Division. It was a bit too noisy, especially at night, to be really restful, but the feeling of being out of actual contact with the enemy was a rest in itself which was much appreciated by all. No one did very much beyond changing their clothes and lazing about and perhaps writing a few letters, but in a few days all feeling of fatigue had worn off and the Battalion was ready for further action."


In July, when the ranks of the two parachute brigades were reinforced by men from ordinary infantry units, untrained either in parachuting or to the high skill that members of the Regiment had to conform, there was naturally some reserve amongst the existing members of the Battalion. "It seemed possible that our parachuting days were over. We were to get more and more non-parachuting reinforcements and would finish the campaign as ordinary infantry. The draft were all from the KSLI {King's Shropshire Light Infantry} except the officers... They were all first class material and very quickly fitted into the Battalion, absorbing the spirit which they found there. It is interesting to note that, when the time for a decision came, they were so much part and parcel of the Battalion that over 80% of the survivors volunteered for parachuting and so accompanied the Battalion to the end of its operations."


On the 17th August, the 346th Division began to pull back across the River Dives and were rapidly followed by the 6th Airborne Division. "There were indications that the Germans were pulling out of their positions and preparing to retire eastwards and the Division was going to follow them up. 3rd Parachute Brigade was to lead and the 5th Brigade would be passed through them in due course. The immediate route through Escoville... and then on through Troarn to the east. The final destination was unknown, but the maximum speed would be maintained to keep the Germans on the run. A glance at the map was sufficient to show that this was not going to be so very simple. The whole country seemed to be covered with rivers and all of these ran across the line of advance. Bridges were sure to be blown and the Germans would be certain to fight delaying tactics at each river."


By the following evening, the 3rd Parachute Brigade had worked its way onto the Island in the middle of the Dives valley, but was faced with the task of capturing four bridges to move off it. Major-General Gale decided that the Brigade would capture the bridges and that the 5th Parachute Brigade would cross and secure a bridgehead on the far side. "It was more than likely that the 5th Brigade would be used for a crossing of the river that night, so the various Commanders made considerable use of the village church tower as a vantage point. This tower had already been practically demolished by shellfire and was a very obvious target for German guns. But was, on the other hand, quite the best observation point in the village. No casualties were suffered in it although it was frequently shelled... Towards the evening the Brigadier {Nigel Poett} got the expected orders and was able to give the outline of his plan, though he was unable to go into much detail as conditions of the possible river crossing places were unknown, as the 3rd Brigade was still fighting down to them. There were three bridges by which infantry might be able to cross under the cover of darkness and one of these was allotted to each Battalion. The 7th was given the middle one. Start times, forming up places, routes of advance and all the other details considered so vital in the planning of even the smallest of night operations had, by necessity, to be dealt with in the most sketchy way. Great use had to be made of the map, which certainly would not be completely accurate in the smaller details... In theory the Brigade was tackling the impossible and nothing but muddle could result. In practice, however, no-one even considered failure and the ghastly possibility of muddles in the night, with Battalions shooting each other up, only occurred to a very few. The river had to be crossed that night and the plan was bound to rely on a certain amount of luck."


"The advance was difficult as various unseen obstacles, particularly impenetrable hedges, were encountered on the way and wide detours had to be made. The enemy was suspicious and constantly shot up flares which made the troops on the ground feel very exposed, but at the same time helped the advance by showing up certain landmarks. The usual fixed line machine guns were also fired at intervals at what the Germans considered likely places. They were very good and picking out these places and had most bottlenecks and gates well covered, but they made their usual mistake of using tracer ammunition so that the line of the gun could easily be seen and that area avoided. Lieutenant Mills as usual did an excellent job of leading the Battalion through the night and getting round many obstacles without actually losing direction. The silent passage of an obstacle such as a hedge by a large number of fully equipped men in the dark is a slow and difficult business and as a result the Battalion was not on its start line until one hour later than had been hoped... It was a most unhappy position for the Battalion to be in, especially as it was getting lighter every minute and serious opposition and counter attacks could be expected... Things started to happen almost immediately and they happened on both flanks simultaneously. The section which had gone off to search the hedge on the right completely surprised a small German detachment with a very business-like dual-purpose gun mounted on wheels and in position on the hedge itself. It is an unpleasant thought to visualise what this gun could have done to the Battalion had its crew been more alert."


"Practically at the same moment as this bit of luck all three companies in the hedge position reported troops in the extended order advancing across the next field to them. They were coming straight for them and did not seem to know what was in front of them. This was presumably the 13th Battalion coming up and orders were issued at once that there was to be no firing. As they got closer it was possible to see, in the half light, that they included amongst them a certain number of Germans, but that these Germans were not being made to move with their hands up and it appeared that some even had their weapons too... At about fifty yards it was clear that it wasn't the 13th Battalion at all, but a party of Germans about a company in strength advancing to the attack. The unfortunate position in which the Battalion found themselves was instantly converted by pure luck into one of unprecedented advantage. The best part of three rifle companies were lining the hedgerow with a good bullet proof bank in front of them and were completely screened from view to the enemy... It was a dream target, almost too good to believe, but at the same time too much like murder to be seized at once. I decided to try and capture the lot alive. A Bren gun was moved out to a flank with the double object of covering the Germans and preventing them from working a similar threat on the Battalion's own flank. Lieutenant Mills was posted to a suitable spot and ordered to hail the Germans when they were 25 yards from the hedge and order them to lay down their arms. When he first shouted to them the consternation amongst the Germans was amusing to watch. They were taken completely by surprise and much pointing and gesticulation took place amongst them. They were in a very nasty position, but did not know just how nasty it really was. Some of them started to argue, but a few had the sense to lie down... This absurd situation lasted perhaps thirty seconds when it was ended by one of the Germans who did a very stupid thing. This man lay down and opened fire on the hedgerow with a machine gun. "A" Company, the centre one, was at once given the order to open fire and great execution resulted. The firing was kept to a minimum and a Platoon of "C" Company under Lieutenant Archer was sent out from the left of the hedge to bring in the Germans as prisoners. Within fifteen minutes the German Company, as it proved to have been, scarcely existed, the bulk of them were prisoners, a large number were dead and precisely three had managed to slip back in the morning mist to escape into the wood. One of these was captured a few days later. The prisoners were sent back to Brigade HQ and the Battalion moved on and occupied its objective without further excitement."


On the 20th August, the 6th Airborne Division planned to move beyond Dozulé and on to Pont L'Eveque. "There were known enemy at this strip of road and they were sufficient to prevent 3rd Brigade from being rushed to Dozule to continue the advance there, but they were insufficient to warrant the delay of deploying the Brigade for an attack... The opposition on this strip of road was probably only slight, but it would be sufficient to delay the 3rd Brigade, which was still at Goustranville and would therefore have to attack frontally down the axis of the road. The 7th, however, were nicely placed on the flank and so the job was given to the Battalion. Two simultaneous patrols were sent out from the Battalion position; both of Platoon strength and both found from "C" Company. The left hand one, under Lieutenant Archdale, was directed onto a large house at the Goustranville end of the strip and the other; under Lieutenant Pape, into a farmhouse at the Dozule end. This little operation was carried out in daylight and turned out to be a model of its kind... The assault was completely successful and several Germans were killed... This little operation opened up the road as desired and was only marred by one fatal casualty... Later in the day (August 20th) the Battalion moved across and occupied the road strip itself. This proved a very welcome move because the house that Archdale's party had taken possessed a large garden, which was filled with beautiful fruit, just ripe for eating, while Pape's farmhouse turned out to be a cider storage plant containing vats of cider, stretching from floor to ceiling. A long stay would have been very welcome but this was highly improbable as the 3rd Brigade had already passed through Dozule and the advance was on again at full speed."


At Pont L'Eveque the 13th Battalion were bogged down in particularly difficult street fighting and, as they attempted to gain the village, their position became so precarious that a company of the 7th Battalion was ordered to move into the village to secure their rear. "It was not an easy job to get this Company into its new position, as the decision to move was not made until fairly late, it was then a question of getting them in as soon as possible and not by any particular hour." To facilitate this rapid movement, Pine-Coffin gathered a number of Jeeps and planned to shuttle the company forward, along the slightly precarious direct route, in three lifts. His Jeep led the first contingent. "All went well until three quarters of the run had been completed, when a machine gun opened fire from the far bank of the river and wounded Private O'Sullivan who was in the trailer of the second jeep." Despite this resistance, the transfer of the company into the village was achieved with little further incident. Upon arrival, Pine-Coffin proceeded to conduct a reconnaissance of the area with the company commander and decided upon suitable positions through which the 13th Battalion could withdraw.


Patrols were sent out in the night and it was found that the enemy appeared to be withdrawing. Lieutenant-Colonel Pine-Coffin despatched one of his platoons to gain a bridgehead across the second channel of the River Touques whilst the remainder of the Battalion prepared to move across. This was achieved without meeting enemy resistance and the 5th Parachute Brigade continued the advance. Pine-Coffin wished to be on the heels of the retreating Germans and so, in the absence of transport, he commandeered ten children's bicycles from the locals so that a section of men could scout ahead of the Battalion. The idea worked well in practice, however the bicycles were not built to carry such a burden and a number were soon broken.


Towards the end of the 25th August, Pine-Coffin began to feel some concern for the shape of his Battalion as the rapid and relentless pursuit, without the assistance of many vehicles, had taken a considerable strain upon their feet. Paratroopers were trained to march quickly over long distances, however two months of a static defence in Normandy had naturally led to the general state of fitness softening somewhat. He warned Brigadier Poett that he would soon have to let men drop out of the column due to such sores. This nevertheless had to be risked as the keenness of the pursuit was vital, however he arranged for ambulances to follow in the Battalion's wake and collect those men who had been forced to fall out. "The advanced guard Company passed through Beauzeville exactly at 7am {on the 26th August} with the rest of the Battalion about a mile behind them. Everyone seemed to realise that much was expected of them and they swung along at light infantry pace. The road, for the most part, was flat and straight which meant that an apparently endless stretch of it always extended in front and as the sun got up later in the morning conditions rapidly became uncomfortable. The ordinary rules of march discipline were rigidly enforced from the start, but even so more and more could be seen limping badly as time went by."


"Brigadier Poett was a frequent visitor and usually timed his jeep visits to coincide with one of the hourly ten-minute halts so that he could talk to the men as they rested by the side of the road. He made it quite clear to them on these occasions that he thought that they were doing splendidly, and the fact that he was taking an interest in them and was pleased with what they were doing undoubtedly helped those with particularly sore feet, and there were plenty of those, to keep going."


On the 27th August, the Battalion received orders to push on to Pont Audemer with all speed. The Princess Irene Brigade raced ahead in the lead but it was vital that the 7th Battalion should march to their support as soon as possible. "The distance between the twelfth and sixteenth mile was probably the worst of the lot and during this stage there was no singing or whistling and very little conversation. Just sheer foot slogging and at an uncomfortable fast pace at that. After the sixteenth mile the country became a little less monotonous and a new spirit seemed to animate the Battalion. The singers started off again and so did the whistlers... The pace was increased slightly to take advantage of this change and when a check was made about two miles south of Pont Audemer the column was found to have been marching faster than it had been at the start, furthermore it was still complete as not a single man had even asked for permission to fall out. The Brigadier came forward here and again expressed his admiration of the feat that had been achieved, but pointed out that he expected opposition in the town and that as the Battalion must obviously be tired he proposed to pass through another Battalion which had been brought up in lorries. When I pointed out that this would be a great disappointment to the 7th, he changed his plan and ordered the Battalion to continue in the lead and to occupy Pont Audemer."


Having played their part in the Normandy campaign, the 6th Airborne Division was returned to England. The fine performance of Lieutenant-Colonel Pine-Coffin on D-Day was noted and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order. His citation reads:


Lieutenant Colonel Pine Coffin landed by parachute with his battalion behind the enemy lines on 6th June 1944. He was in command of the Western bridgehead over the Caen Canal at Benouville. His battalion held this bridgehead against superior strength, including self-propelled guns, for 21 hours until they were finally relieved by the seaborne forces. He displayed great courage, coolness, leadership and skill throughout the operation and was an inspiration to all under his command.


Lieutenant-Colonel Pine-Coffin continued to command the 7th Battalion and led them when the Division was deployed in the Ardennes in the winter of 1944/45. On the 24th March 1945, the 6th Airborne Division took part in the Rhine Crossing. For his actions on that day, Pine-Coffin was awarded a further Distinguished Service Order:


During the airborne operations for crossing the Rhine on 24th March 1945, Lieutenant-Colonel Pine-Coffin landed by parachute with his battalion in the vicinity of Hamminkeln. His task was to hold a covering position and protect the dropping zone while the remainder of the Brigade secured the main objectives.


The landings were accomplished in the face of very heavy opposition from flak and ground defences. The positions to be occupied by Lieutenant-Colonel Pine-Coffin were held by strong enemy forces supported by 88mm guns.


By outstanding leadership and skill Lieutenant-Colonel Pine-Coffin rallied his battalion and totally disregarding the heavy fire and his own personal safety directed his battalion on to their objectives.


During this engagement he was severely wounded in the face but he refused to leave his post for treatment and continued to move freely about his locality encouraging the men and adjusting their dispositions.


Inspired by their Colonel's outstanding example and gallantry, his battalion held their isolated position in the face of strongly pressed counter attacks until the brigade objective was completely secured and consolidated, after which he was called on to withdraw into it which he did successfully bringing large numbers of prisoners with him.


The magnificent leadership and bravery of Lieutenant-Colonel Pine-Coffin had played a vital part in the success of the Brigade operation.


From 1952-55, Pine-Coffin was the Regimental Colonel of the Parachute Regiment and commanded Depot The Parachute Regiment & Airborne Forces. His elder brother's son, Trenchard John Pine-Coffin, later followed his uncle into the Parachute Regiment and, from 1961-2, commanded the 1st Battalion.


My thanks to Peter and Michael Pine-Coffin for their assistance with this biography.


Offsite Links:


Back to 7th Battalion

Back to Biographies Menu