|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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that was encountered came from the Teller mines and French shells which were stuck on the end of spikes at the low water mark and blew up on contact. Some of these were still submerged, and others were struck by craft drifting with the strong current, but on the whole it can be said that the beach defences there cleared by the time the force arrived.
88mm. gun, used both anti aircraft and anti-tank. Our most feared opponent, especially when mounted in a Tiger tank. Would knock out a Sherman at almost any visible range.
When we had studied the defence plans of the beach we had seen that there was an 88 mm. gun in a concrete pillbox in the corner of the sea wall, and this appeared to be the only anti- tank gun on the beach itself. When the leading tanks landed this sun had not been put out of action by the big bombardment allocated to it, but fortunately both Squadrons were some way away from it and eventually it knocked out two Avre Churchill tanks which landed nearby, and was itself knocked out by one of the Fails.
Avre - Assault Vehicle Royal Engineer
Westminster Dragoons Flail or Crab - a Sherman tank which carried in front of it a revolving drum with chains attached, which "flailed" the ground for Mines. 4th Troop
There was also another 88 in a concrete pillbox on the extreme right of our beach. This had not been marked on the defence map and came as a nasty surprise to the right-hand Troop of "B" Squadron who only expected a machine-gun nest. Fortunately, however, the pillbox was so constructed that the gun could only fire in enfilade down the beach but could not engage the Troop, who lande straight in front of it and quickly "posted some letters" through the slits.
Apart from this there was hardly any opposition, either on the beach or for the first mile or two inland. "C" Squadron who were on the left and had to work through LA Riviere were troubled by snipers and had two commanders shot in the head, but there was nothing to halt the advance, and compared with what we had expected, it was a pleasant surprise to be able to get ashore without much difficulty.
The only casualties in tanks were due to difficulties on and around the beach. About half a dozen DD Tanks were swamped or got stuok, and "A Squadron, who arrived an hour after H Hour with R.H.C. lost two tanks in shell holes under water; one scout car was hit by a shell.
There was some delay while the Flails cleared the minefield in the sand dunes at the back of the beach. The ground was boggy and they had difficulty if carrying out their job at length, however paths were cleared and the Regiment was able to push forward with its infantry. Once through the beach defences, it was left for “A” Squadron to clear the main axis of the advance through Crepon and Creully; R.H.Q. also split into two parties and blazed away in support of the infantry.
There were quite a number of German infantry in houses and slit trenches, but they had already been heavily bombarded and they
(Archive transcripts © Copyright Normandy War Guide)