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reeds and the darkness. Some of those who survived like Lieutenant Browne or Lance Corporal Bailey were at large for months behind the German lines and fought with the Maquis. Browne's own account of his experiences are at the end of this book and may serve as an outstanding example of many similar but unrecorded actions.

Major Ian Dyer, Lieutenant Jock Lepper and their stick stood to the door of their aircraft for a good ten minutes longer than they expected, as the pilot took avoiding action from the enemy flak from the coast defences, and they eventually dropped into the floods half a mile West of Robehomme. Although the stick were able to rally in about 15 minutes, they could not determine their whereabouts, and set off to the North West in an attempt to get clear of the water, which was in places more than waist-deep.

They reached a dry track and at the same time heard small arms fire away to the North West and North. After they had moved a short distance in this direction, a sentry challenged them suddenly in German from about 25 yards away. The party froze for a moment and then silently backed away without further action by the sentry. Their object was to rejoin the battalion and therefore to avoid battle whenever possible. After by-passing the sentry, they reached a read and as the party was half-way across it, about 30 German soldiers with their rifles slung on their backs came whizzing by on bicycles. One of them shouted a greeting to Lepper, who yelled back with what he hoped were the some sort of noises, and the Germans disappeared into the night.

Immediately afterwards a machine gun opened fire from close in front, hitting, Leppor's batman in the leg and grazing Dyer's thigh, and a second gun followed it with a burst from about 50 yards to the right. Covered by a Bren, the party withdrew at once to a small wood. A cast to the North having met another sentry, Major Dyer decided to move round the South of the German positions and to brush straight through any further opposition. After 200 yards advance another challenge rang out and was followed by what sounded like a blind egg-grenade. Dyer at once throw back a 36 Grenade and the sentry was heard to run away. The party now moved on and reverted to their original Northward course as the sky lightened, until soon they were marching in daylight. Suddenly two men were seen to dart into a hedge about 200 yards in front of them and Lieutenant Lepper and a Corporal went forward to find out who they were. Half a minute later they were seen again, and as they were dressed in airborne smocks, were challenged. But they ran away again, until Lepper shouted after them: "Don't you know the pass-word, you B.Fs ?" At that they stopped and came back, one of them being the GSO 1 of the division, Lieutenant-Colonel R. N. H. C. Bray, DSO. He had his leg pulled for not knowing the pass-word, but in return was able to give Dyer his location as being close to the Varaville - Le Mesnil road South of Le Bas de Breville. His glider had landed on the battalion's dropping zone near Varaville that morning instead of near Ranville and he was now on his way back to find divisional headquarters near the Orne bridges.

Major Dyer now decided to move directly to Le Mesnil and to report to brigade headquarters, whose planned location it was. On the way they met battalion headquarters of the Canadians and reached Le Mesnil crossroads with them, Here they were put under command of the Canadians and fought for three days round Le Mesnil.

First contact followed soon after their arrival, when a German lorry drove up to a house 200 yards away. It was captured and turned over to brigade headquarters as an ambulance. Next day, June 7th, Lieutenant Lepper took a patrol out and searched the ground for a mile East of the cross-roads without finding any enemy, but at 9 p.m. a German cyclist scout appeared, coming down the main road. He would have been allowed to pass unharmed, so as to lure on the main body, but unfortunately he spotted Corporal Dowling, who shot him. The main body new came into view about 250 yards away up the road and were engaged by the Brens of Major Dyor's force, now about 30 men strong. The enemy's leading machine gunner got his weapon into action quickly and boldly on the edge of the road and the enemy attacked at once straight at Sgt Harper's section in a house

(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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