Also of ‘E’ Troop, distinguished himself by lying out in front to fire and continuing to engage the enemy with a blazing Bren gun, magazines being thrown to him from a ditch by his comrades. Two MGs, 2 81mm Mortars, a motorcycle and one prisoner were captured as a result of this action. Meanwhile the remainder of the unit had regained the original axis of advance, and very quickly moved through the back gardens and fields behind Salenelles into No. 4 Commandos lines, picking up a few Germans on the way. We rested our weary bodies in a sunken land and learned from the CO of 3 Commando that we had arrived back in the middle of a battle and the Brigade had been heavily attacked all that day.

The importance of holding Merville now became apparent, as the main enemy force had been split in two, and our unexpected arrival in the village had substantially weekend the attack on the main defensive positions.

We spent the night in Le Plein Church, and within five minutes of our arrival in the church every man was snoring hard in blissful ignorance of the battle going on around the village. The Brigade Staff, realising how completely worn out the unit was, kindly provided the necessary guard over the Church, for which we were most grateful.

June 9th D plus 3

We had been told that night that we might get a rest the next day.This, however, was not to be, for at 100 hours the next morning the uni was moved into defensive positions at Le Plein with 6 Commando on its left. With our occupation of this position the Brigade island of all round defence was complete. The unit dug hard and quickly, although the men were tired, and by mid-morning everybody was well to ground. During our digging there was considerable sniping, both from the buildings at Le Plein and from the orchards and wooded areas around us. Many small patrols were sent out to clean up the snipers, but they still made constant and determined attempts to infiltrate back again. Later in the day patrols were sent into Amfreville (which was only a few hundred yards away) in order to clear some houses which practically overlooked our position. Enemy were encountered but did not put up much opposition. ‘E’ Troop took over a house at Amfreville (an ex-Hun NAAFI) and maintained a standing sniping party for some time. We also pulled in a suspicious looking civilian who stated that he was a Spanish Socialist who had been forced to work for the Germans. He was sent back to Brigade.


June 10th D plus 4.

A Fighting Patrol under command of Major I.N.N. Beadle MC RM was now sent into Merville, leaving our lines at 0430 hours and returning at approximately 0630 hours. The patrol penetrated Breville and a lot of confused shooting followed. The enemy appeared to have been considerable disorganised and it was thought that many casualties were inflicted, although the numbers could not be estimated. At 0800 hours an enemy attack developed on the Brigade position, one prong thrusting hard at 6 Commando on our left, and then swinging round to the thick wooded country cross our front. This provided us with some satisfactory shooting. By 1200 hours it was quite apparent that the enemy’s main attack had been beaten off, although there was still strong pockets in the wooded areas in front. At 1320 hours a Troop Fighting patrol was sent out into the woods and drove back a number of the enemy, inflicting casualties in the process. The patrol returned at approx 1500 with the news that a wood about a mile away was affording cover to a large number of Germans, including tracked vehicles.

(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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