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on the road. Sgt Harper‘s section withdrew to the main platoon position and the enemy‘s attack was halted by the fire of the other two sections. They drew off and moved to the loft flank, where they were at once heavily fired on by Captain Gordon-Brown's glider party, who were protecting Major Dyer's left and rear.

That night Lieutenant Lepper and a section occupied a farm on the road junction 300 yards East of Le Mesnil cross-roads, which they were to hold for 24 hours continuous fighting, and late on June 9th Major Dyer and his 30 men rejoined the battalion at Bois de Mont.

Lance Corporal Green, Private Jepp and Private Penstone landed near the coast in the neighbourhood of Franceville Plage. In company with about 17 other men, they tried to make their way South East towards the divisional area, but found the route blocked by numerous German positions and patrols. After lying up for some time, being fed by French civilians, the three of them eventually reached the Orne estuary North of Sellenelles and swam up it into the divisional area. They rejoined the battalion at Ecarde on June 24th, and served with it until the end of the war, Green becoming a section leader soon after rejoining.

The padre, the Reverend John Gwinnett, dropped some miles East of the dropping zone. After a search of the neighbourhood he collected a few men of the battalion and led them Westwards through enemy territory towards the British lines. After fifteen hours marching across country, in the course of which they were fired on by several German positions, he found brigade headquarters at Le Mesnil late on D day. Here the padre learnt that the 9th Battalion had had to leave 20 wounded men in a large house near the Merville battery after the assault in the early morning. He at once borrowed a captured German car and together with Private Allt of the battalion drove off to Merville. The roads were badly cratered and the whole area was in a state of confusion, most of his route lying through territory in enemy hands. In spite of this he reached the aid post at 8 p.m. and eventually succeeded in clearing all the wounded that night back to the main dressing station in Ranville. But for his prompt and determined action all the wounded would have fallen into enemy hands and Capt in Hudson, the battalion adjutant, would not have been operated on in time to save his life.

Another officer Captain T.E.A. Robinson, was dropped with his stick about a mile due North of Varaville. His aircraft had been engaged by the enemy anti-aircraft defences on crossing the coast and the pilot had taken violent evasive action, throwing many of the men to the floor. The stick was therefore a long one. Two men were hurt in landing and Robinson was able to collect four others. After making the two damaged men as comfortable as possible in a nearby farm, they started to move Westwards and almost at once met Brigadier Hill and about 20 men of brigade headquarters and of all three battalions.

The whole area was flooded and on the way to Varaville they had to wade and swim through nine large dykes as well as the normal floods. The 2000 yards to the village took all the remaining hours of darkness, and they reached it at dawn. Here C Company of the Canadian parachute battalion were attacking a strong enemy post and had successfully blown the river bridge East of the village. Lieutenants Peters and Catlin, several men of A Company and some of the mortar platoon were also in the village and joined the Brigadier's party. Its strength was now 35. A Frenchman in the village volunteered to guide the party to a German battery near Gonneville sur Merville, and the party set off with him to destroy it.

Halfway between Varaville and Gonneville at about 7 a.m., as they were marching up a narrow country lane, several sticks of heavy bombs from Allied bombers above the clouds fell right across their little column. Robinson, marching at the rear, was unhurt except for being shaken and dazed by the shattering noise and concussion of the bomb-bursts. But when the dust and smoke had

(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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