What 1200 hours many attacked again with considerable determination and in some strength. The attack came from two directions - the East and North. This was driven off, and prisoners taken later told us that only 18 of the attacking company survived. During the course of this attack the CO, who was going round the Troop positions, suddenly came face-to-face with two Germans lying in a ditch about to open fire with an MG 34. It is not known who was the more stanished, the CO or the enemy but the reaction was fortunately quicker on our side. The CO shot one German dead with his rifle and the other with his .45 automatic, due to rifle stoppage…

At approximately 1300 hours a signal was received from the Brigade to the effect that all attempts to relieve us had failed, and the Commando was to rejoin the Brigade at Hauger after dark. On receipt of this signal the number of hours before dark were carefully counted . They seemed distressingly large,


During the following afternoon, spasmodic mortaring continued, buy had little effect. Later a small party of enemy worked their way into the village from the East, and were endeavouring to bring up another MG and more snipers. Sgt Stewart and Cpl Shelly of 10 (IA) Commando attached, stopped this party and by some very careful work lobbed grenades over the barn roof. These fell in the midst of the enemy, wounding two and putting the remainder to flight. At 1700 hours movement was seen to the West of the village and later Some shouting was heard from the enemy but we were not clear whether they were trying to surrender or whether they were telling their comrades to cease fire whilst collecting their wounded. In any event, we were taking no chances and did not go forward.

Almost immediately after this a sudden attack came in from the opposite end of the village, supported by SP guns, which proceeded to knock down the flimsy houses one by one and set the East end of the village on fire.

This was not so good, particularly in the view of the fact that there was by now no 2” mortar ammunition at all, and very little small arms ammunition. The time for an orderly withdrawal had obviously come. The unit was withdrawn very quickly through the wooded country under the very noses of the enemy in the Battery position and sorted themselves out for the somewhat tricky move in daylight through the enemy-held country to the Brigade line at Le Plein, some four miles away.

As soon as they were clear of the village we could hear the enemy hunting around for us, blasting away at nothing with automatics. However, the FOB set up his box of tricks and within a very short time brought down most effective fire upon the enemy in Merville village.

The withdrawl continued, with ‘E’ Troop leading, and before going another half-mile we were fired on by four MGs to our front and directly on our axis of advance.

‘E’ Troop went to ground immediately and probed the position. The right was impassable owing to a minefield, whilst the left held the Battery position and other enemy positions as yet unknown.

The CO rapidly appreciated the position and ordered ‘E’ Troop to attack the MG positions and hold the enemy by fire whilst the remainder of the unit was silently passed round a line of hedges and ditches to the left between two of the enemy’s known positions. Sixty-eight grenades were called for, and about a dozen were mustered. Sgt Brown (‘E’ Troop) using them to great effect by means of an EY rifle. This accounted for the first two MG positions. Mne Green,

(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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