Title 1st Battalion The Royal Ulster Rifles, Account of activities in the Normandy Campaign
Description 1 Bn. R. Ulster Rifles: account of activities, 1944 June
Source UK_National_Archive Reference WO 223/26

1st BATTALION THE ROYAL ULSTER RIFLES NORMANDY CAMPAIGN

The following account of the activities of the Battalion has been prepared as it is felt that it may be of interest to the officers of the Regiment and to other friends of the Battalion

The story opens at the end of May, When the Battalion was ordered to move to a transit camp. The move, which was conducted in an air of great secrecy, took place on 25th and 26th May, "A", "F", and "S" Companies going to Blakehill Farm and Battalion HQ, with the remainder of the companies, to Broadwell. Reinforcements were left behind, at Bulford, under commband of Major G.P. Rickcord, assisted by Lieutenant H.L. Croft.

At the transit camps the Battalion found itself entirely cut off from the outside world and settled down to enjoy the marvellous weather and to put a final edge to its preparations for the long awaited "D" Day.

Towards the end of our stay the story of what was to take place was gradually explained until, at the last, every single man knew every- thing it was possible for him to know about the operation. Rarely have officers had such great opportunity of putting all their men so adequately into the picture, and full use was made of that opportunity

An unfortunate accident with a "75" grenade on the 1st June re- sulted in the death of Lieut Seale and Sgt Dwyer, Major warner and several others being wounded. As a result of this, Major Rickcord had to take over "B" Company at the last minute, and Lieut Hindson replaced Lieut Seale.

Shortly before "D" Day the good weather broke into a violent storm, after which there was a steady deterioration, and eventually "D" Day was postponed for twenty four hours. On the evening of June 5th ("D" - 1) we watched the Paratroops take off - a most impressive sight. Their men in great morale, were given a fine send—off by all ranks of the Battalion..

The following day it was our turn, and during the afternoon both parties moved off to their respective airfields The take—off from both airfields went smoothly and there was not a hitch either with tug- aircraft or gliders which might have necessitated the substitution by one of the reserve loads held in readiness.

The flight across the Channel was uneventful, although at times inclined to be bumpy. The weather was fine, particularly during the later stages of the flight and ample evidence was available to reassure all concerned that the RAF fighter cover was very considerable. By about 2045 hours the coast of France could be clearly seen and it was not long before the River Orne and Canal could be recognised. Whilst crossing the coast it was evident that flak was being thrown up; this appeared of light variety and there were only a few indications that it was inflicting casualty either to tugs, aircraft or gliders.

At 2100 hours, six minutes before the pre-arranged time, the first glider touched down. The majority of the landings were comparatively smooth, in spite of the flak and many wooden poles which were planted all over the LZ, Enemy mortar and small arms fire was being brought to bear on the LZ, but this was not allowed to interfere in any way with the unloading and concentration of the Battalion.


(Archive transcripts © Copyright Normandy War Guide)

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