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few N.C.O.s left were soon able to take over from him and a little while later he was able to leave them once more firmly established. He had exposed himself to intense fire the whole time.

The small Black Watch garrison in the Chateau still held out in spite of point blank fire from tanks and S.P. guns and their stubborn resistance soon resulted in the enemy switching his main effort towards the 9th Battalion and Bois de Mont. It was about this time that John Gwinnett, the padre, nailed the Battle Flag to a tree near battalion headquarters. Its effect on everybody was immediate and remarkable and his action was timely in view of the depression caused by the stream of wounded and demoralised men passing through the battalion position.

The scene was still confused. Heavy firing was going on round the Chateau, the 3-inch mortars were dropping their bombs into the wood 300 yards away across the road and German S.P. guns and tanks were firing into A and B Company positions from 300 - 400 yards range. Headquarters and C Company were ducking the overs. Behind Bois do Mont the mortar platoon under Serjeant Hennessey and Corporal Gower stood to their mortars with shells and bombs dropping round them and kept their own bombs shifting down and up the barrels as target after target appeared. Both N.C.Os. set a fine example of coolness and devotion to duty both in handling the mortars and in getting up ammunition and the results achieved with untrained mortar men were astonishing.

Ammunition was now running short and the only possible vehicle in which to fetch it in this situation was a carrier. 100 yards East of the road in a field near the Chateau drive lay an apparently undamaged Black Watch carrier. R.S.M. Cunningham and C.S.M. Beckwith crawled over the road, sprinted across the field and dived into the carrier. It started up without difficulty, but at the same moment was observed by an enemy tank and engaged with machine-gun fire. The two warrant officers at once drove the carrier across the field to the corner where one of the abandoned 6-pounders still stood. They jumped out, loaded and fired two rounds at the tank, and missed with both. But the tank had seen enough or run out of ammunition and turning sharply, rumbled off into the woods.

While this was going on more enemy infantry with two tanks had advanced towards the junction of A and B Companies. The leading tank got to within 40 yards of B Company when it was hit twice on the front by PIAT bombs, which burst with no apparent effect. The PIAT detachment were firing from a bank near the two Vickers guns and the tank's return fire wiped out the crews of all three weapons. Close by Private Millward was firing his Bren from behind the same bank and showed remarkable. coolness in continuing to engage targets as they appeared, undeterred by the death of his near companions. A few minutes later a third PLAT bomb hit the tank on the side of the turret and must have damaged it, for it withdrew at once and was no more seen. By this time the enemy infantry were very close, but the fire of A and B Company and the withdrawal of their own tanks persuaded them to call it off, and they slowly filtered away, back into the woods.

In this action the last of the machine-gun platoon were hit and after it only one PIAT detachment survived unhurt in the antitank platoon. Both platoons had served their weapons fearlessly in the past six days, new gun numbers replacing casualties at once,

(Archive transcripts © Copyright Normandy War Guide)

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

Page: Page 30