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Early in the morning Lieutenant Slade and a small patrol reconnoitred the Chateau and found it empty, although recently in use as a German headquarters. He brought back about £500 of pay-roll, which served the battalion funds well in the next two months. The rest of the battalion spent the morning digging and concealing their positions.

At about midday a small attack came in against A Company and was repulsed. It was hot pressed home and was probably only a fighting patrol of about platoon strength. During the afternoon several more attacks developed from the North East against A and B Companies, none of them properly supported by fire and each about a company strong. They were all beaten off without difficulty. It later became known that these were companies of the German 857 Regiment, who had bicycled from Le Havre and who were being clumsily sent in piece-meal, as each arrived in the Breville area.

During one of these actions Private Cowley of B Company distinguished himself by taking over command of his section on their N.C.O. being wounded, and leading them with skill and gallantry. R.S.M. Cunningham was given command of a fire group made up of one Vickers gun, a Bren and some riflemen of the anti-tank platoon, and with them he moved from place to place, wherever the enemy attack looked the strongest. He exposed himself fearlessly and on one occasion directed the fire of his group from the top of a bank, where he stood in full view of the enemy under considerable fire.

The much battered but indefatigable brigade staff and in particular Captain John Woodgate, the Staff Captain, managed to get some food and two jeeps up to the battalion during the day and Lieutenant Martin of the 9th Battalion, now doing the Job of liaison officer at brigade headquarters, arrived with welcome news of the battle on other fronts. As he drove out of the Bois de Mont gates onto the road, he was fired on from the woods to the North and severely wounded in the face. C.S.M. Beckwith saw this and under cover of a phosphorous smoke grenade went out to the jeep in spite of enemy machinegun fire and brought Martin back into cover. He was later evacuated with a shattered jaw. During the day Lieutenant Baber with Serjeant Hurrell's section of B Company patrolled to the South as far as Escoville. The village seemed empty and Baber sent the section back, while he himself tried to retrieve a German motor cycle. Hurrell returned and made his report but Baber was not seen again. He had been wounded and captured.

After dark two 3-inch mortars, three Vickers guns and more ammunition arrived from brigade, and both Mortar and Machine-gun platoons were reformed. Serjeant Hennessey, who had by now rejoined from Le Mesnil, took over the mortars and in a phenomenally short time had trained his novice mortarmen into an efficient team. Nearly all the trained machine-gunners and mortarmen were still missing from the drop. Serjeant McGeever took over the new machine-gun platoon and mounted one Vickers on a jeep for use on the tracks through the wood as a mobile reserve of fire-power.

At Le Mesnil Major Dyer's small party had a hectic day of continuous fighting. Lieutenant Lepper and his garrison of the farm East of the cross-roads had been surrounded by the enemy after a day of attacks and mortaring, and the enemy had got close enough to lob grenades in through the windows and over the garden wall. A counterattack by a Canadian company restored the situation, and the

(Archive transcripts © Copyright Normandy War Guide)

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Archive: 9th Bn The Parachute Regiment North West Europe 1944 - 45

Page: Page 21