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The Battalion Axis was across country to the area of Marcel, 500 yards West of Pont de la Guillette and them along the track where we had met so much opposition on June 14.

The enemy gave us a very warm welcome once more and the area of the stream and track from Marcel to Pont de la Guillette were plastered with mortars; Leading Companies, C and D again, met heavy Machine Gun fire from the area of the farm buildings, but the attack was kept moving. B Company round to the right up river, had again to deal with snipers. It became a Company Commander's Battle, and the two forward Companies worked independently to clear the area on both sides of the track up to and past the farm house. D Company under Captain Sandwith reached the second cluster of farm buildings and dug in on the left of the track. C Company, under Major Kirby, pushed on much further and reaching the line of the Tilly - Lingevres road, came into very close contact with enemy. Our men were on one side of the road and the enemy were lobbing grenades from the other. The attack had been supported by tanks, but once again it was proved that tanks cannot operate at their best in this very close country and against infantry very well dug in.

C Company were ordered back to the line of the second group of farms, where the Battalion re-organised, D Company left of the track, C Company on the right and B Company in reserve in the area of the first farm house. Late in the evening an enemy armoured car opened fire at the leading Companies from the main Tilly road and on the left of D Company, but the only thing to suffer from this fire was the farm house near D Company positions.

Casualties included two Officers wounded; Major Kirby who was hit in the wrist in the very close fighting near the read, and Lieut T.O.M Cranko, who later died of wounds. Captain R. Bousfield and CSM E Charlton of C Company were both reported missing, but a German Stretcher Bearer captured the next day gave the information that an English Captain and another man had been seriously wounded and evacuated through German Medical Services.

The Battalion had only gone half way to its objective and the Brigade Commander laid on a big fire plan to break through the following day.

The plan on June 18 included a creeping barrage by 3 Field Regiments at a rate of a hundred yards in five minutes, to enable infantry to mop up any enemy posts, close support by tanks, one troop to each Company, whose task was to keep level with infantry and shoot up all hedgerows, and Machine Guns mounted on Carriers working in the role of Light Tanks.

The attack commenced at 1430 hours after the enemy had given the FUP a severe pounding. A heavy barrage was laid down first and all companies moved forward at 1445 hours. Tanks crashed through hedges, shooting into hedge junctions, and gave magnificent support. The fire brought down on the enemy was simply terrific and he was well and truly blasted out of his positions.

Once the attack started to move there was no stopping it and the forward companies had a magnificent day, kept pace with the barrage and D Company had the good fortune to see the Boche get up and run for it. The Battalion reached its objective, the high ground South West of Tilly, by 1700 hours and dug in. Tanks and M.10s stayed with us on the ground, lying in wait on the final objective for some suspected enemy tanks, and succeeded in brewing up two MK.IV Specials.

(Archive transcripts © Copyright Normandy War Guide)

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Archive: 6 Durham Light Infantry Report, June 1944

Page: Page 10