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help them land, but both seemed to have located the battery. One seemed about to land inside the wire, but disappeared into the darkness, eventually landing four or five miles away. The second dived towards the battery with tracer shells hitting it just forward of the tail, turned towards the watching battalion when almost dovm, bounced in a field near the perimeter fence later found to be a minefield, skimmed over the men‘s heads with a whistling rush and crashed into an orchard 200 yards East of the firm base.

The commanding officer now ordered B Company to blow the gaps in the wire, and as soon as the explosions occurred the assault parties went through the gaps into the battery. Major Parry was in command of the whole assault force and led one of the four parties, and the other three were led by Lieutenant Jefferson, CSM Ross and Colour Serjeant Long. After a moment‘s pause for reorganisation inside the gaps, each party made for its own casemate, firing as it went. Three enemy machine guns inside the battery and somewhere on the right had now opened fire and Major Parry dropped off a Bren group under Serjeant Knight to engage them. Serjeant Knight and his two men eventually succeeded in destroying all three machine gun posts. Progress across the battery was slow owing to bomb craters and wire, and two men were killed on mines between the gaps and the casemates. Lieutenant Jefferson was wounded in the leg by a booby-trapped stuffed dog, which he rashly kicked, and Major Parry was also hit in the leg by a bullet, but was able to go on.

On reaching the gun positions the assault parties fired into them and finally chased out about 30 survivors as prisoners. The guns were destroyed with Gannon bombs and in one case by firing two shells at once through it, and their destruction was checked by Major Parry and Lieutenant Halliburton. The battery was now being shelled by the enemy and the commanding officer had sent in B Company to mop up the rest of the garrison. With much banging and yelling the diversion party had broken in through the main gate. The guns were now finally silenced and the garrison dead or prisoners. A little over half an hour remained before HMS Arethusa was to start shelling the battery, if no success signal had been received, and in view of“ the lack of wireless communication to brigade headquarters and the absence of the bombardment officers' wireless link to HMS Arethusa, it was essential to get well clear of the battery before the time limit fixed.

Shortly before 5 am the success signal of a red-green-red 2 inch mortar flare was fired, and Lieutenant Loring, the signal officer, launched a pigeon to England with a signal reporting success. He had carried the bird with him throughout the jump and the assault. Shelling from the direction of Franceville Plage was still going on as the battalion withdrew to the firm base, and it was getting lighter. After each company had reported to headquarters near the stone Calvary it was found that there were now about 80 all ranks left on their feet and about 30 casualties in the battalion aid post, set up in a ruined barn near-by by Captain Watts, the MO. Lieutenant Dowling had been killed, Major Parry had collapsed from loss of blood on reaching the firm base, Captain Hudson the Adjutant had been hit badly early in the action and Captain Bestley and Lieutenant Jefferson were wounded. 65 men were killed, wounded and missing. There were 20 stretcher cases and Captain Watts had treated a total of 40 to 50 casualties with the help of one medical orderly and two partially trained batmen.

(Archive transcripts © Copyright Normandy War Guide)

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Archive: 9th Bn The Parachute Regiment North West Europe 1944 - 45

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