WD JUN 44 6 Jun

No. 4 Cdo. - LA BECHE - 0750 - A fiercely opposed beach landing during which No. 4 Cdo took over the role previously allotted to an earlier wave of infantry which had been pinned down by enemy fire; the storming of heavy fortifications at OUISTREHAM; street fighting through areas infested with snipers; a forced fighting march with men carrying up to one hundred and forty pounds and finally, after a further eight hours the taking over of a defensive position which was to withstand heavy mortaring, repeated enemy attacks, shelling and dive bombing - these were the highlights of the first days of No. a Cdo after their D Day landing in FRANCE.
The Cdo, five hundred strong, landed in two waves from HMS PRINCESS ASTRID and the SS MAID OF ORLEANS and touched down on RED QUEEN Beach, a mile to Lhe West of OUISTREHAM at LA BRECHE. The original intention of the British landings had been for 8 Bde, which consist- ed of the Suffolks, East Yorke and South Lancs to take the beach and form a beach head through which No. 4 Cdo was to pass and take the Gun Batteries at OUISTREHAM. The County Regiments, landing at 0750 hrs, found intense opposition from the strongpoint on RED QUEEN Beach and were pinned down by concentrated machine gun and mortar fire at the water's edge, some being in 2 ft of water when No. 4 Cdo‘s first wave of LCAs went in at 0820 hrs.
Mortar bombs were falling in and around the LCAs and as the Cdo landed there were 40 casualties, including the CO, Lt. Col. R.W.P. Dawson, who was wounded in the leg. Rapidly forming up under concentrated fire, no. 4 Cdo fought their way from the beach to the forming up area, putting out of action several of the enemy strong positions and enabling Units of 8 Bde to pass through.
C Tp, under command of Capt. D.C.W. Style, MC (later seriously wounded),pushed past the East Yorks, who were lying at the water's edge, and successfully engaged about a dozen of the enemy in slit trenches and a few more in pillboxes, afterwards moving up in orderly fashion to the Assembly area.
Lt. Col. R.W.P. Dawson moved forward to contact 2 East Yorks Regt and was wounded in the head. He was, however, sufficiently able to order the Cdo to move off from the Assembly Area, relinquishing command of the Cdo when the 2 i/c passed him, saying that he intended, if it was possible, to follow on behind. The 2 i/c ordered the medical orderlies to give him some morphine. Col Dawson was again seen on the road after the Battery had been taken, he was then sent by the Medical Officer to the BDS. On the evening of D+1 (7 Jun 44) Col. Dawson arrived in a Jeep at Cdo defence positions at HAUGHER, and stayed there until D+3 when he was ordered to be evacuated by the ADMS.
C Tp waited for the remainder of the Cdo to position itself, and then moved on behind 1 and 8 (Fighting French) Tps along the OUISTREHAM road to the Check Pt, being harassed by snipers and machine gunners in houses. Tanks greatly helped in clearing this opposition. From the check Pt, C Tp again took the lead and established a route to the Battery - the Cdos main task. Invalu- able assistance was given to the leading Tp by a French Gendarme member of the Underground Movement, who helped the Cdo to by-pass other enemy strongpoints and reach their objective without unnecessary delay. Great help was also afforded the Unit by 4 Centaurs which gave cover from snipers. On arrival at major tank obstacles covering the inland side of the Battery strongpoint, and still under enemy fire, a search was made and two suitable bridges made. Here, a machine gun post and mortar position were silenced by PIAT fire.
Together with A Tp, under command of Capt. A.M. Thorburn, C Tp then gave covering fire to enable D Tp, (commanded by major P.A. Porteous VC) to pas through E Tp, (commanded by Capt. H. Burt and F Tp (commanded by Capt L.N. Coulson),were then covered across. Continued sniping and mortar fire inflicted further casualties.
The heavy ruck-sacks carried by the Cdo had been dumped under HQ and the Mortar Section. Under orders by Unit wireless, mortar fire was brought to bear on the Flak Tower at the East of the Gun Battery and covering the whole area. The French detachment commanded by Capt. P. Mieffer,


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Archive: 6 Airborne Div.: H.Q. War Diary, 1944 June

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