Up our defences. Ammunition was now very limited, and re-allocation necessary. Consequence a pool was made at HQ, personnel giving up practically all they had for use by Fighting Troops. By now the enemy patrolling was increasing in strength, and the sniping becoming worse. All movement was cut down to a minimum, and counter sniping parties quickly organised. 0930 hours the position was mortared and an attack quickly followed in the direction of the Merville Battery. This attack was beaten off with considerable casualties to the enemy and little damage to our own troops. After the attack spasmodic mortaring continued and the sniping remained as intense as before.


Later on in the morning two Renault Ambulances drive into Merville manned by 2 German drivers and a Polish and Italian Orderly. These proved of great value later in the day. From fighting at Franceville and Merville eight stretcher casualties had been collected in the RAP and it became obvious that with the resources available and in view of the ground to be covered it would be impossible to take the schedule tease back to the Brigade area with the unit. It was therefore decided to try and send them back to our own lines in the German Ambulances with the hope that if they were recaptured they would be giving save conduct and would be well treated by the enemy. L/Cpl G.V Saunders (10 IA Commando) who had been wounded in the leg by a grenade splinter, volunteered to conduct the party. He found the two German drivers very willing to cooperate. The eight casualties and one badly wounded German prisoner were therefore loaded into the ambulances. This involved a stretcher carry across a much-sniped orchard, which done under the very successful protection of the Red Cross Flag. There is no doubt that the enemy ceased firing on the appearance of this flag. The ambulance drove away, conducted by Cpl Saunders and Pte Wodke RAMC (slightly wounded and sick). Five minutes the barn in which the loading had taken place was set on fire by an enemy anti-tank gun. Half an hour later, the unit having evacuated, the RAP was also hit. The ambulances were unfortunately recaptured, but Cpl Saunders managed to escape, and reported that the ambulances were taken to the rear, for the treatment of casualties. At least some of the casualties are known to have been well treated in the German Hospital at Pont L’Eeveque, and it is safe to presume that the remainder were similarly treated.

During the course of the day Capt J.E. Hedkin RA, FOB called for direct fire from Fleet Destroyer on positions in Franceville-Plage. The first was most effective and enemy mortaring from several areas ceased. At one stage during the morning the enemy in the Merville Battery did a most effective mortar shoot on to some of their own positions which were annoying us at the southern edge of Franceville. This caused great amusement as well as raising morale - to watch the enemy battling amongst themselves whilst we sat amongst them unscathed.

By this time the ammunition situation was extremely critical and small patrols of men, one of which consisted of Cpl Harrison, Mnes Innes, McPake, Bonny and Mckensie were sent out several times to recover ammunition which had been left in rucksacks dumped during the previous to the street fighting.

These patrols were given orders to ransack equipment they could fund and bring back ammunition and food for the wounded. They achieved some measure of success, enough small arms ammunition in this manner to keep us going. By 1100 hours however the enemy were too tightly surrounding us to allow further patrolling.

(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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