|Title||50 (NORTHUMBRIAN) DIVISION, An extract from the divisional history|
|Description||50 Div: Diary of G.S.O.l, 1943 - 1944|
- 3 -
But the infantry of 50 Div, well supported by armour, artillery and machine-guns of the 2 Cheshire, did their job. And though some beach defences held out longer than was hoped, and here and there our troops had to fight hard to free the beaches from direct fire, their efforts were of such an order that the build-up of the force as a whole was not interfered with, and while the fighting went on in field and village successive waves of troops and vehicles and equipment were discharged over the beaches and sent to their appointed places in the expeditionary force that was rapidly coming to life on the soil of France.
The main heat and burden of that day were borne by the two assault brigades, 231 on the right and 69 on the left, with their supporting arms, though the reserve brigades saw fighting, too.
The story is best told brigade by brigade. Here is on account of the battle fought by 69 Brigade in the general area of La Riviere:
The battalions leading the assault were 5 E Yorks and 6 Green Howard's. The former were to land close to the coastal village of La Riviere and the latter a quarter of a mile further west. The reserve battalion of the brigade, 7 Green Howards, had the task of landing three quarters of an hour after the loading troops and advancing immediately through the 6 Green Howards to capture the enemy battery at Ver-sur-Mer, a mile and a half inland.
During the run-in of the LCA 1 from the LSI, which had dropped anchor about five miles off shore, the troops could not see the full effect of the terrific air bombardment which the R.A.F. and U.S.A.A.F. were carrying out on the enemy coastal and inland positions. Even from the frigate H.M.S. KINSMILL, on which the Brigade Commander, Brigadier F.Y.C. Knox, D.S.0. , was travelling with the S.O.A.G., Captain R.H. Ballance, R.N., the, landmarks on the coast soon became ob- literated by vast clouds of dust and smoke rising from the coastal belt. The terrific pounding from cruisers, destroyers and smaller supporting craft as well as from aircraft, rose to a crescendo immediately before H hour, and very little enemy battery fire was directed at the larger ships now lying off shore.
As the leading LCA approached the shore, the beach obstacles, composed of iron stakes with shells or mines tied to the top and sides, could be clearly seen above the water level, and they were to prove a difficult obstacle to later craft, since the tide was rising rapidly.
Shortly after H hour the leading craft touched down and the 6 Green Howards, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel R.H.W.S. Hastings, who were landed several hundred yards west of their proper beach, stormed ashore to capture the enemy locality close to the beach which guarded one of the routes inland.
5 E Yorks, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel G.W. White, landed on time and in the correct position. The right-hand company crossed the beach in spite of heavy fire directed on them from the western part of La Riviere and advanced inland across a minefield towards the battery of Mont Fleury, some 1,000 yards inland. This battery, which had suffered a very heavy and accurate aerial bombardment in the early hours of D day, was overrun very quickly by our infantry with light casualties. 30 prisoners were taken, and the battery commander committed suicide as he
(Archive transcripts © Copyright Normandy War Guide)