- 8 -

The speed and orderliness with which this jumble of human beings was sorted out into formed fighting units was a fine tribute to the training and to the steadiness and individual initiative of all ranks.

13 Parachute Battalion had collected some 60% of their men at the RV and were ready to start their task within one hour of the first drop. The 7 and 12 Battalions each each??? had further to go and took 1 1/2 hours to collect approx the same number. Casualties on the DZ amounted to approx 16 killed and 82 wounded while the number finally missing after rallying was completed was 432, of these a substantial number rejoined during the next few days and others came in at intervals throughout the Brigade‘s stay in NORMANDY.

In addition to the drop of the Brigade group and their equipment containers, 400 containers holding ammunition and miscellaneous stores were to be jettisoned just South of the DZ, and collected under Divisional arrangements to provide an initial reserve. It was realised that many of the containers would fall too wide to be collected. Nevertheless a sufficient number did drop within the area held and provided a most valuable reserve so that at no time was there any danger of an ammunition shortage.

While the rallying of the main body of the Brigade group was in progress, enemy patrols had begun to probe at the bridgehead held by Maj Howard's small force. No serious attack took place but the patrols increased in strength and a few tracked vehicles appeared. It seemed to the defenders that some- thing more serious was brewing up. It was, therefore, with considerable relief that shortly after 0230 hours, those on the bridges saw the leading elements of the 7 Parachute Battalion approach.

Lt Col R.G. PINE-COFFIN, DSO, MC., Commanding 7 Parachute Battalion, realising the importance of coming quickly to the assistance of the coup de main party had left his RV for the bridges as soon as 50% of his men had arrived. At this time the containers carrying his heavy weapons had not been found and his wireless was also missing.

The Battalion passed through Maj Howard's force and succeeded in securing their objectives on the West bank, including Le PORT and BENOUVILLE and in establishing their battle outposts as shown in Sketch V.

During the remaining hours of darkness the situation on the West bank became obscure. Without wireless communications control was difficult. The enemy pressure was continuous and some infiltration was made between company localities. Lt Col Pine-Coffin however, was able to maintain his positions until first light when re-adjustments became possible.

While these events had been taking place, 13 Parachute Battalion and 591 Parachute Battalion and 591 Parachute Squadron RE on the other side of the river had made good progress in the tasks assigned them. The covering parties to protect the preparation of the glider landing strips were established by 'A' Company under Major J.F. CRAMPHORN, and the obstructing poles were cut with explosives by the sappers and removed by men of Major Cramphorn's company. The strips were ready to receive the gliders by 0315 hours, a good performance in the face of intermittent shelling and MG fire.

(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 9