|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.|
- 7 -
7th Green Howards
were mostly conscript troops and did not offer very spirited resistance. Some of the tanks had a fine time charging across country and machine-gunning everything that showed itself until a white flag appeared. The infantry worked with great gusto and we soon had Crepon and were pushing on to Creully. As the leading tank approached the town there was a Panther on the river bridge which opened fire, but it missed, and the tank commander hastily put down smoke and got to cover.
"A" Squadron now began to work round the right flank of the town while the infantry continued down the main axis, but after a time the infantry reported that the town was not strongly held, and they set about clearing it. The Squadron therefore returned to the main road and passed through Creully to the high ground on the far side. It was here that they bumped the first real trouble.
As they moved up towards the ridge, three tanks on the right went up in flames one after another as they were hit by an unidentified gun further over to the right. A few hundred yards further forward, the Leading Troop took up a position in a hedge and the Troop Leader spotted suspicious looking object ahead. He had just dismounted with his glasses to get a better view of it, when the object which proved to be an 88mm gun locked out his tank, which burst into flames at once. The 88 in turn was knocked out by one of the supporting Tanks.
A little while later a very heavy artillery concentration came down on the Squadron position, and caught two Troop Leaders who had dismounted together to make a plan, killing one and severely wounding the other.
SP - a Self-Propelled anti-tank or artillery gun mounted on a tank chassis, but not in a turret which can traverse in all directions like a tank; can therefore only fire to its front; used normally only as a highly mobile gun, not as a tank.
On the right flank meanwhile, exactly the same situation was being met by "3" Squadron, who had reached Villiers-le-Sec without trouble; but as they came to the line of the River Seulles, one tank was knocked out by an SP gun, which was itself knocked out in return. The Squadron then crossed the river through St. Gabriel and pushed upon to the high ground, where they met strong opposition which came this time from three SPs which knocked out one tank, and hit two others without knocking them out. The Squadron, however, took up a good position and in turn claimed to have knocked out all three SPs. They then advanced further South to Brecy.
"C" Squadron who were slightly behind, as they had to clear La Riviere to start with, also went round the right flank and reached the line of the River Seulles without heavy opposition.
Tanks lost - all causes:
"A" Squadron - 7
"B" Squadron - 9
"C" Squadron - 3
The Regiment harboured after dark at about midnight, and thus ended D Day, the first of a series of twenty-hour days, but the most momentous of them all, and a most satisfactory opening to the invasion. First, we had in fact succeeded in getting ashore; secondly, we had taken a lot of prisoners and knocked out a lot of the enemy's equipment, though not without loss to ourselves; and thirdly, we had penetrated this "impregnable" Western Wall to a distance of about six miles.
(Archive transcripts © Copyright Normandy War Guide)