|Title||9th Bn The Parachute Regiment North West Europe 1944 - 45|
|Description||War Office: Staff College Camberley, 1947 Course Notes on D-Day Landings and Ensuing Campaigns. Normandy. 9 Bn. The Parachute Regt.: war diary, 1942 - 1944.|
In 1942 the 10th Bn Essex Regiment was removed from farming work in East Anglia and converted into a parachute battalion. It was renamed the 9th (Eastern and Home Counties) Bn, The Parachute Regiment, and after some months of training joined 3rd Parachute Brigade in the newly forming 6th Airborne Division. This was early in 1943.
Many officers, NCO‘s and men remained with the Bn after its conversion, in spite of some rigorous selection, and the traditions of loyalty and discipline inherited from the Essex Regiment and inculcated by the retiring commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel T.E. Hearn, were to guide the battalion for the rest of the war. For a short time after conversion the battalion was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel S.J.L. Hill, DSO, MC, from 1st Parachute Brigade, but on his translation to command of 3rd Parachute Brigade the battalion was taken over by Lieutenant Colonel Martin Lindsay, Royal Scots Fusiliers.
In the summer of 1943 the Divisional Commander issued a training directive which contained the tasks for which the Division was to prepare. They were all designed to help a sea-borne invasion and included the attack on a coastal battery, the seizing of ground vital to the advance of the main assault forces and the blocking of enemy mobile reserves approaching the bridgehead area. Co-operation with armour was also studied, but lack of armoured formations with which to train made this largely a theoretical business. Special attention was paid to physical fitness and endurance, since every ounce of equipment and ammunition required by the Bn had to be carried on men‘s backs, and every man in the Bn marched 50 miles in 24 hours in full fighting order. Parachute jumping by day and night was practised and much time and effort put into solving the problem of rallying the men into a formed body after the drop.
At the end of March 1944 planning for the invasion of Europe began at brigade headquarters and two weeks later the commanding officer, now Lieutenant Colonel T.B.H. Otway of the Royal Ulster Rifles, received his orders for the special task allotted to the battalion. Secrecy was kept by restricting all work on these plans to a heavily wired and guarded house near divisional headquarters, and at this stage no-one [in the battalion, except the commanding officer, knew the nature of his orders. They were these.
6th Airborne Division was to protect the left flank of the British Second Army by denying to the enemy the ground between the River Orne and the River Dives, just North East of Caen. 3rd Brigade's share of this consisted of destroying a coastal battery near Merville capable of firing on the invasion beaches, blowing up the bridges over the River Dives to prevent the move of enemy reserves Westwards, and holding the long wooded ridge just West of the Bois de Bavent from Le Mele in the North to a prominent road junction in the South. To the 9th Battalion the Brigadier gave the task of destroying the coastal battery before the seaborne assault touched down on the beaches, of seizing the high ground at Le Plein two miles to the South West until relieved by the
(Archive transcripts © Copyright Normandy War Guide)