fighting with extreme tenacity.

It was now decided to hold the existing position. Meanwhile Pte Arnold, 10 (IA) Commando, approached the enemy with a white flag, telling them to surrender because three divisions were behind us and that it would be a “waste of blood” to fight on. Despite his valiant attempt to bluff the Germans they only retaliated by firing and so the battle continued. The enemy fire was almost immediately followed by a strong counter-attack to our flank and right rear. It now became clear that he was trying to cut us off and push us on to the beach defences, where we would be at the mercy of his guns. We decided therefore to fight our way out of Piccadilly, aNd a running fight ensued as the enemy tried to cut us off moving down a street running parallel to Piccadilly. Lts Thomas and Dunkerley (who was badly wounded some few minutes later) rapidly reorganised the remnants of ‘A’ Troop and endeavoured to hold enemy fire.


On our way out of Piccadilly we came to a sandy knoll which dominated from streets in Franceville area and positions were accordingly hastily prepared. The CO had by this time joined ‘A’ Troop, and from this point fighting patrols were sent out in order to contact stragglers and to bring in wounded.

It was now 2300 hours, and with darkness upon is and our ammunition low, the CO gave the order for the Commando to withdraw to a knocked out strong point in a neighboring wood. Once this had been reached it was decided to reach Merville by troops and to evacuate the wounded in a hand cart which had been found. This was accomplished by disengaging two troops as rapidly as possible and sending them at once to seize Merville. The enemy appeared to be taken by surprise, for they hasteley abandoned strong positions in the village. Owing to the withdrawal, a considerable number of badly wounded and stretcher cases who were still unfortunately cut off were left behind in Franceville-Plage. Two medical orderlies, L/Cpl Relf RAMC, who was wounded, and L/Cpl Dunlop RAMC, refused to leave the wounded to the mercy of the enemy, and voluntarily stayed behind, both later being reported as PW.

The rest of the unit had followed after all possible casualties had been collected. By 2345 hours the Commando had taken up a tight all-round defensive position in Merville with the Commando HQ in the same place as the previous day. The strength of the unit was now considerably reduced, and it was still noy known what had happened to the two troops of No. 3 Commando. There was no trace of them in Merville, although this was not altogether surprising in the view of the fact that the enemy were still holding half the village. Our only contact with the Brigade HQ was through the FOB via HQ Ship and it was not known whether these Signals were in fact getting through, or what the time lag was. In view of this a small patrol of two Mnes, under Cpl Deacon was sent off to try and get through to Brigade HQ to inform them of our position, if possible, to make arrangements for obtaining ammunition and food. The night was comparatively quiet until first light, a few enemy patrols being sighted and driven off. That no major attack developed was probably due to both sides being very exhausted, in addition general haziness of the situation.

D plus 2. - June 8th

Early in the morning, Cpl Deacon’s patrol returned from Brigade HQ, having had an adventurous trip through the enemy lines. They brought relief signalmen with a set, and communication with Brigade was restored. As soon as light improved the enemy started probing with small patrols, and his snipers became extremely accurate. At 0830 house a signal was received that Merville was to be held at all costs. An Order Group was called and everything possible was done to tighten

(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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