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cleared, of the 35 men there he could only find six others alive besides himself. Some were buried in the craters, others blown to smithereens and he was able to recognise none of the dead and dying around him. Peters and Catlin were among the dead and the Brigadier was wounded painfully in the behind. He had jumped into the ditch beside the read next to Peters, with another man at his feet. A fourth had dived into the some ditch on top of him just as a bomb exploded. All the other three were killed instantaneously, Peters' body being/ blown across the road, and the Brigadier received a piece of metal in the buttock. Later he was able to go on and eventually reached Le Mesnil. It was a miraculous escape both for himself and for the whole brigade.

Meanwhile Robinson had started back towards Varaville with the six survivors, not knowing that the Brigadier was still alive. His object was to get some of the men's wounds treated at the Canadian aid post and to join the Canadians fighting there. He knew that the Varaville company would later join the Canadian battalion round Le Mesnil and that he would then be able to rejoin the 9th Battalion. They were all still dazed and weak from the shock of the bombing, and on the way to Varaville, Robinson sat down in the hedge to rest and to check the route from his air photographs. He looked up again to find the muzzle of a German M. G. 34 in his face and his whole party surrounded. The Canadian aid post had been captured too by this some force of about 40 Germans.

They were disarmed and marched South under heavy guard. Every time Allied aircraft flew over, the whole party took cover in the woods and ditches, but by 4 p.m. they had passed through Troarn on the way to a meeting point for trans- port South of the town. Here they lay up in a field, while the Germans sent out a small patrol to find the vehicles. As everybody settled down to rest, the vigilance of the guards relaxed, and Robinson ran for it. Bursting through a hedge as the Germans opened fire, he followed a stream-bed for a quarter of a mile before lying up in a dyke to listen for his pursuers. An elderly Frenchman, working in a field close by, saw him and came over to speak to him. Robinson told him who he was and asked if there was a way through or round Troarn, free of Germans. The old man told him to stay in the dyke and went off to reconnoitre the town.

Half an hour later he came back and signalled to Robinson to follow. Keeping well behind him, Robinson finally reached a farm on the South East edge of the tovm, where he was given bread and milk. A large number of civilians now began to gather round him and he was led in triumph through the town. Young women embraced him, men wrung his hand, bouquets of flowers and bottles of cognac were thrust upon him and innumerable babies were presented for him to kiss. It was overwhelming and highly embarrassing but was not to last long. While he was eating some strawberries, an excited civilian dashed up, crying that the Germans were re-entering the term.

The crowd dissolved and Robinson jumped over the churchyard wall and went into the church. Here a man led him down to the crypt, where he went to sleep for three hours.

At dawn next day, June 7th, a Frenchman came to guide him round the East edge of the town, taking him as far as the open country to the North. He still had his compass and after lying doggo all day, set off on a bearing through the Bois de Bures, and reached the 8th Battalion positions West of the wood at midnight. The following morning he walked on to Le Mesnil and there joined Major Dyer's composite force near the cross-roads, rejoining the battalion with them in the evening of June 9th.

(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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