|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.|
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At 6 a.m. on June 6th, after completing the destruction of the Merville battery, the battalion moved off towards Le Plein, taking a cross-country route along lanes and hedges to the West of Gonneville and Le Bas de Breville and approaching Le Plein on the road into Hauger from the East. Shortly after the start a formation of RAF heavy bombers straddled the column with their bombs. Luckily nobody was hurt. Yellow smoke and yellow triangles had been shown as seen as the bombers were sighted, but at their height the signals were probably invisible and too late to be of much use.
On approaching Hauger a French civilian warned the commanding officer that the village was occupied by about 200 Russians, impressed into the German Army after capture on the Eastern front. This made people hope for an easy victory in Le Plein, but in the event the Russians fought as well as any Germans in that area.
At 9 a.m. the head of B Company, who were leading the column, was fired on at the road junction on the North East outskirts of Le Plein and Hauger, and as they continued to move forward, about 30 enemy fell back to the road Junction between the Chateau d'Amfreville and Le Plein itself. B Company attacked at once, straight down the line of the road and dislodged the enemy. 15 German bodies were left behind and the remainder withdrew to the centre of the village round the church. The battalion now occupied the houses at the North East and of the village, just as an enemy counter-attack came in through the orchards on the left or Southern flank of the area. This attack bumped into the solitary Vickers gun at very close range and was broken up completely. 12 more German dead were left lying close to the gun.
The situation was now clarifying with the battalion in a compact position in the houses at the North East end and the Germans or Russians firmly estab- lished round the church in the centre of the village. One house in particular seemed to be a key point in the enemy's defence and a platoon of B Company led by Lieutenant Halliburton were ordered to move round the right flank and attack it in rear. The house was surrounded by a 6-foot-high wall which made support- ing fire difficult, and as the platoon went over the top of it, they were caught in heavy machine gun fire from inside the house. The attack failed and Halliburton was killed. In view of the weakness of the battalion the commanding officer now decided to consolidate where he was and await the arrival of 1st Special Service Brigade, who were due to take over Le Plein that day. Accordingly the battalion took up a strong position in the Chateau d'Amfreville with one section watching the road junction on the edge of the village.
The Chateau had been the headquarters of the mixed Austrian and Russian unit holding the area. In the stables were a few horses and an old French car, which all joined the battalion transport; in the cellars was a small German ration store of sausage, bread and cheese and in the garden was a large cider press and a little cider. There was no waste. The enemy kept up continuous rifle fire into the battalion area and the battalion snipers were kept busy dealing with the targets observed. The Germans were poor shots, but generally well concealed, except in the church tower. Here they showed remarkable foolhardiness and when the village was finally cleared, six dead German riflemen were found in the tower. Here, too, during the morning, the Brigadier arrived on his way to divisional headquarters, His wound from the bombing earlier in the morning was dressed by the doctor, and Captain Greenway and some of C Company escorted him round the village as for as the comparative safety of the main divisional dropping zone.
In the early afternoon of June 6th elements of No 6 Commando of 1st Special Service Brigade began to arrive in Amfreville and Le Plein and made touch with the battalion. No 45 Royal Marine Commando was approaching Sallenelles and Merville at the some time and by 9.30 p.m. No 4 Commando had arrived in Hanger and was digging in. The commanding officer and Lieutenant Pond made a tour of the village once contact had been made with the Commandos and found several containers full of arms and ammunition and a lot of German military papers. A number of dead Germans and horses in the street and the shattered carts and windows in the village were evidence of earlier fighting, presumably between
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