- 23 -

machine-guns, led by a C.S.M. Captain Wilkinson, brigade intelligence officer, who had appeared from a flank and Joined in the chase, was unfortunately shot in the stomach during the fight and died shortly afterwards. The pressure on brigade headquarters now being considerably eased, the commanding officer rallied his force and returned to Bois de Mont.

During the afternoon about two platoons of enemy began to infiltrate through the woods East and South of A Company and to threaten the main road to the South. A 'counterattack of one platoon of C Company led by Major Charlton and Lieutenant Parfitt went in and shortly after they had crossed the road and disappeared into the wood, a long burst of German M.G.34 and British Sten fire showed that they had made contact. Later the platoon returned with the report that after initial success, they had been caught in a clearing by two machine-guns. Major Charlton, Lieutenant Parfitt and five men had been killed and five others wounded. Parfitt's batman, Private Morriss had done well, killing a number of Germans, but it was a heavy price for a small gain and a bitter blow to the battalion.

That evening at 5.30 the Luftwaffe made a rare appearance and a force of Focke Wulf 190‘s flew over the divisional area. The 20 m.m. and 40 m.m. guns of the Airlanding brigade and the Orne bridge defences could be heard and seen engaging them with streams of tracer. A little later R.A.F. heavy bombers, mostly Stirlings, flew in from the sea and dropped supplies and 6 pounder guns North of Ranville - always a cheerful sight. All through the afternoon and evening could be heard the sound of continuous shelling, both our own and the enemy‘s, along the South of the division's area, and at about 7.30 p.m. heavy mortar and artillery concentrations went down in the direction of Herouvillette. This was discovered later to be the beginning of an attack on the 52nd Light Infantry, and the noise of battle there went on for more than an hour.

At about 9 p.m. Major Dyer and his composite company of 40 men from Le Mesnil rejoined the battalion and an ’hour later he led a platoon of C Company on a fighting patrol to the Chateau. They. found the buildings once more clear of the enemy, but in the wood near-by they found and brought back the bodies of the Second in Command, Lieutenant Parfitt, and the five men of C Company. Ian Dyer and his men had been most useful at Le Mesnil, but they were badly wanted in the battalion. For the next few days men were still rejoining the battalion, some from the Dives Marshes, some from the Bois de Bavent and some from other units, with whom they had linked up. Captain Smyth's glider party had reached the battalion at Le Plein and now that Major Dyer's men were back too the strength of the battalion was rising well over the 200 mark.

Standing as it did in No Man’s Land the Chateau de St. Come suffered heavy damage in these early days of fighting. Shelled by both sides and hit more than once by the 6-inch shells of H.M.S. Arethusa the house soon became a wreck, full of the debris and ruin of battle. During the fighting between the Chateau and Bois de Mont, when German infantry were firing from the house and buildings, the stables were hit by PIAT bombs of the battalion and set on fire. Many thoroughbred horses more still inside the stables and the Germans withdrew from such an inferno of bombs, shells, burning buildings and squealing frantic horses. C.S.M. Beckwith and another man of B Company worked right forward into the stables in an effort to cut free some of the horses, but even he was unable to do anything and the horses were burnt to death.

(Archive transcripts © Copyright Normandy War Guide)

Found an error?

Found an error with this archive item? report it here!

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

Page: Page 23