|Title||4/7 Dragoon Guards: extract from "The First and the Last," 1944 May, June|
|Description||Extract from "The First and the Last," telling the story of the 4th/7th Dragoon Guards in the invasion of Normandy.|
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Each squadron attended an order group by the Colonel down to Troop Leaders, and was then given further opportunities to use the briefing room for briefing and re-briefing right down to tank-crews. By the time we had finished, everybody knew the general plan to cover the first few days, and the detailed plan of the landing, down to the exact track which each Squadron had to follow, and the exact points at which ditches or mines or other defences might be encountered. Everyone had in his mind's eye a clear picture of the house with a circular white drive round it, which was the land-mark by which we were to guide our landing.
200 Francs to £1
The only thing that we did not know was the actual location of our landing. We had studied maps, but they were carefully printed with a bogus name for each real name, and only the Colonel, the Intelligence Officer and the Squadron Leaders knew what those real names were. This was just another pcint in the tremendous effort that was made to maintain security, without which the expedition was doomed to be a disaster. Even the fact that we had changed all our money into French francs might be a blind, but the odds in favour of a landing in France were strong enough to make it look like a clue.
Never before in the history of the Regiment can there have been a time when it was so completely trained, so fully equipped, and imbued not only with such a clear idea of what was to be attained, but also with such keenness to be up and doing. Morale and regimental pride were at their highest and were quite magnificent.
In later days, when bloody conditions and severe casualties were rocking the Regiment on its foundations, these things remained as a great pillar of strength on which to rebuild and refit. Only now has it been realised in high quarters, where previously the policy of uniformity was followed slavishly, that in the stress of battle, and under all the strain that it imposes, a man must have something cherished to which to cling. A good Regiment is his home, and the more desperate things become, the more it means to him. He cannot show the same loyalty to some anonymous battle group, but he can and will remain firm and cheerful under the hardest conditions, with good officers and among his friends, and he will set up a spirit that can be felt by every new recruit who comes to join in the battle, and who will quickly find himself a part of the same great family.
This is the only way that continuity can be maintained and a Regiment remain a reliable fighting force, however severe the pressure, and however grave its losses.
It was a masterpiece of organisation that the Regiment, and the many similar units now lining the coast, finally embarked in the right place at the right time. The Regiment was split between four different camps many miles apart and without telephone communication,
(Archive transcripts © Copyright Normandy War Guide)