Title 2 Bn. South Wales Borderers: extract from regimental history, 1944 June
Description 2 Bn. South Wales Borderers: extract from regimental history, 1944 June
Source UK_National_Archive Reference WO 223/29

NORMANDY

2nd Bn The South Wales Borderers (an extract from the Regimental History)

As it grew light we were able to see the majestic sight of the whole Armada steaming proudly in; naval escorts on either side of each striking force, and vessels as far as the eye could see - an impressive, vast array.

A long procession of aircraft was flying overhead. Presently we passed the LSI of the Assault Bde, in our case 231 Bde, these ships had discharged the assault troops in their LCA and their duty was fulfilled.

The French coast came in sight and we could see our cruisers and destroyers firing broadsides at targets on land.

The officers scanned the coast, looking for our beach, which we had memorised so carefully from the reconnaissance aerial photographs we had seen during our briefing.

We were due to follow in behind the HAMPSHIRES Regt, they had to assault the beach and gain a small bridgehead, and we were to go straight to an assembly area from which we had to despatch "D" Coy on Bren Carriers and airborne bicycles to capture a Radar Station. Then, on to a German Battery at VAUX-SUR-AURE, and the Bn was to be dug in by first light on "D" plus 1, on the high ground to the North-West of BAYEUX, overlooking the town.

Major TALMAGE had been sent ahead with the assaulting wave to recce an assembly area for the Bn , to meet the C.O. with a situation report on arrival at A/Area.

Our craft were forced to cruise around in circles just off the coast, until we received a Radio message from the G.O.C. 50 Div, telling us to land. The HAMPSHIRES experienced a tough patch of resistance from ARROMANCHES, and it was approx 11-20 before we had the order to go in and land. The sea was rough and a runnel had formed on the beach; we were forced to land at LE HAMEL, farther than had been planned. The troops were dressed in "Kae Wests" and waders, in addition to the heavy equipment they carried including two 24 hrs ration packs and tommy cooker.

The craft had different fortunes, some stuck on the runnel, and had to try several times for better places, and others got in reasonably well. The ramps were lowered, a seaman swam ashore with life-line and the troops followed. Many went beneath the surface, but with the taller ones helping the shorter ones, and the ebbing tide, we got ashore somehow, with only two men drowned and some of the bicycles lost. "Drowned" vehicles and upturned. LCA littered the water and swung about. Wounded soldiers of the HAMPSHIRE Regt were on the beach, some prisoners sat sullenly - the first enemy we had encountered since NORWAY, the D.D. tanks were firing from the sands, and there were sounds of MG fire from the harbour and hill just to our West

Everyone was soaking wet; the Bn gradually gathered together in a temporary assembly area where we dried out as best as we could, and cleaned the sand and water out of our weapons. We were a long way from our Bn assembly area, and it took us several hours to collect everyone together and set off on a mine-free route to get there. All around us sappers and flails were cleaning mines, and movement was confined to white taped lanes. The smell of powder and the sweet sickly smell of the enemy, caused by the ersatz soap they used, was in the air now and never left us during the campaign.


(Archive transcripts © Copyright Normandy War Guide)

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