- 10 -

At 0700 hours the Brigade witnessed the terrific bombardment on the beaches which preceded the seaborne landings. The Scale of this supporting fire was an impressive indication to the onlookers of the force which the Allied Armies could bring to bear.

0n the West bank of the river first light found serious enemy counter developing. As result, Lt Col Pine-Coffin with his battalion still far below strength, found it necessary to adjust his dispositions. He decided to hold the enemy on the line of the road running North and South from LE PORT to BENOUVILLE. 'B‘ Company was to infest the Southern part of LE PORT and the small wood at 097748 to prevent a break through from the North. 'A' Company was to deny the approaches from the South. The gap between ‘A’ and 'B' Company on the axis of the main road from the West was to be secured by a detached platoon of 'B' Company under Lt D.L. THOMAS, The original bridge defences were held by one platoon of 2 Oxf & Bucks. This left in reserve, under Lt Col Pine-Coffin, four platoons of 2 Oxf & Bucks placed between the canal and the river, and also part of ‘C' company, retained as a counter-attack force at Battalion HQ under the Commanding Officer's personal direction. The balance of ‘C' company were still holding the original battle outposts.

These dispositions worked out well. During the day the battalion withstood eight separate counter-attacks in about company strength and sometimes supported by a small number of tanks, In addition continual attempts were made by small parties of the enemy to infiltrate between the localities. Owing to the lack of wireless and this frequent enemy infiltration, the situation of ‘A‘ Company was often uncertain and caused Lt Col Pine-Coffin a good deal of anxiety. The loss of the 3 inch mortars was a great handicap in dealing with the counter-attacks, more especially as artillery was not available and the targets were too close to be engaged by ships' guns. Several times the situation appeared serious but always it was restored by fine leadership and the determination and endurance of the troops. Many gallant acts were performed by Officers and men.

Active patrolling was found the most effective means of breaking up the enemy infiltrating parties. Lt N.M. ARCHDALE led a number of successful little patrols with this object.

The first respite for the 7 Parachute Battalion came at about noon when in the distance the sound of the pipes could be heard. This was to be the signal from Brigadier The Lord LOVAT, DSO, MC., that his Commandos were approaching. It was to be answered by a bugle from the 7 Parachute Battalion if the way to the bridge was clear. There was still fighting in LE PORT so the bugle could not be sounded. Never- theless Lord Lovat's men by-passed the attacking forces and the first meeting between the seaborne and the airborne troops occurred about 1330 hours. That first sound of the pipes meant much to the airborne troops and it was a stirring moment for those who heard it. It meant that success had been achieved on the beaches and that relief was iminent. A grim battle had been fought for close on twelve hours and the sight of the green berets was tonic which invigorated the tired troops. The Comnandos were greeted with cheers and handshakes, a heartily deserved tribute to their fine performance in getting through some five hours ahead of any other seaborne troops.

(Archive transcripts © Copyright Normandy War Guide)

Found an error?

Found an error with this archive item? report it here!

Archive: 5 Parachute Brigade: operations in Normandy 1944 June - Sept

Page: Page 11