In addition to this, one other rank have been killed and sixteen wounded, whilst one officer and twenty-eight other ranks were missing. the missing officer (Lt. Peter Winston) was our L.O. who jump with 9 Para Battalion.


The only officers left in HQ were Major Gray, the Adjutant and the M.O. At approximately 0300 hours unit was ordered to move at first light back to the Brigade defensive position which was being established in the area of Le Plein.

By 0440 hours the unit was again on the move and as the tail was leaving the village, enemy patrols were seen to enter the far end...

The journey back to our lines - a distance of three miles - was accomplished in the half-light without incident, apart from muttered cursing from the unfortunate members of the cycle troop who struggled manfully with their steeds up and down the immense bomb craters so plentifully supplied by the RAF. On passing through the deserted main street of Salanelles one saw rather astonishing sigh of Major Rushforth - the leading troop commander - looking very warlike, poking his rifle out of a top window and yelling “Come on, It’s all right. I’ve got you covered” - with an aged madame in curling papers poking her head out of the next window and looking equally warlike - “Ces Anglais”.

We eventually reached a re-entrant away from the coast road and dug in under the apple trees - on the left of the Brigade positions. Tools for the job were readily supplied by the local inhabitants.

Shortly after arriving, some stragglers from the unfortunate Recce group which had been in trouble the previous day came trooping in, looking rather tired and dirty. These men had been unable to get back and were found by a recce patrol which had been out to look for them. They had been shot at every time they attempted to move and carried out a miniature war of their own throughout the night, killing at least two Germans in the process.

The CO was called to Brigade HQ during the morning for further orders. During his absence the unit came under fairly accurate mortar fire from the direction of the same strong-point on the far side of Salanelles. Our own mortars replied but were very soon spotted. As a result the position sustained a direct hit and two slight casualties. The mortar detachment made a rapid move to their alternate positions.

Our preloaded D-Day jeeps now began to arrive, and were immediately sent out to troops. Much needed ammunition, signal stores, medical supplies and weapons were quickly unloaded and the jeeps sent back with casualties.

A Warning Order suddenly arrived to the effect that the unit was to advance. Shortly after the CO came back from the Brigade and met a particularly heavy shower of mortar bombs. Nevertheless the Order Group quickly assembled and included the 2ic, two Troop Commanders of No. 3 Commando, and two Fos B. Lt.-Col Young of 3 Commando was also present, in order to assist those of his troop now placed under command. Orders were given to advance and attack the unit’s original objective - Franceville-Plage. The two Troops of 3 Commando were to mop up the enemy in Merville Battery and to destroy the remaining gun which had been brought into action afresh - shelling the beaches at frequent intervals. One 6 pounder anti-tank gun and the Brigade MG’s were in support, the MMG’s being given the task of covering the advance through Salanelles.

Half way through CO’s orders, the Order Group was mortared and driven into a ditch where orders continued to be given between bursts. Mortaring and shelling of the Commando area continued with increased intensity and accuracy and the unit moved off through Salanelles. As we went down the main street once again, the heartening sound of our

++ See Appendix ‘E’

(Archive transcripts © Copyright Normandy War Guide)

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Archive: 45 (R.M.) Commando - Extracts from Unit History covering campaign Normandy to the Baltic

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