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Chapter 4. The fighting at the Bois de Mont
and the Chateau St. Come

The immediate neighbourhood of the Chateau de St. Come and the villa called Bois de Mont was a thick wooded piece of country interspersed with small fields and paddocks surrounded by tall trees, thick hedges and banks.

North and South of the woods towards Breville and Le Mesnil were fields and orchards and the same sort of country to the East made the visibility everywhere bad and kept fields of fire down to between 50 and 100 yards. Bois de Mont was a summer bungalow built in a clearing just West of the Breville - Le Mesnil road about 1000 yards South of Breville. From it through a clearing in the trees could be seen a wide area of the plain East of Caen, the Colombelles steel factory and the villages of Cuverville and Giberville some four miles to the South West. The owner was a businessman in Caen and his English wife was still there when the battalion arrived. She showed great calmness when asked to join a. party being evacuated back beyond the Orne and did What she could for the battalion in the way of hospitality before she left.

Almost opposite the bungalow gates across the Breville road was the entrance to the Chateau drive, which led Eastwards through a small clearing for about 300 yards to the Chateau itself. This was a stud farm known as the Haras de Breville. The house was oblong in shape, small and compact, and beyond it on the East side were the stables and out buildings. It was about 100 years old. Opposite the drive gates a narrow country lane bordered by trees and deep ditches ran Westwards along the North boundary of Bois de Mont to- wards the open ground of the Landing Zone. 1000 yards to the South at Le Mesnil were brigade headquarters and the lst Canadian Parachute Battalion, and beyond Breville the commandos of let Special Service Brigade held Amfreville and Le Plein. To the West 5th Parachute Brigade hold Ranville and the Orne bridges and 6th Airlanding Brigade in Herouvillette and Le Bas de Ranville watched the Southern approaches. The third battalion of 3rd Brigade, 8th Parachute Battalion, held the Southern end of the ridge beyond the Canadians.

Soon after the battalion's arrival the enemy occupied Breville and as they closed up to the brigade positions, the road South to Le Mesnil became more and more hazardous. Touch with Le Mesnil was never lost completely, but for some time the only safe route lay along the rough lane running South West from the Bois de Mont woods to the farm 500 yards West of brigade headquarters. In effect the battalion position was a literal island of defence.

At first light on June 8th the commanding officer altered the company dispositions to make the house and grounds of Bois de Mont a compact defensive locality with a salient to the East across the Breville road. Here A Company dug in astride the Chateau drive. B Company moved to the North along the sunken lane which ran along that side of the Bois de Mont grounds, and C Company held the West and South sides of the position as well as forming a counterattack reserve. The Vickers guns were in the road ditch near the drive gates, covering the Breville - Le Mesnil road both ways, and battalion headquarters and the aid post were in and around the villa itself.

(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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