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until no more were left. Colour Serjeant Graham, an ex-machine gunner, temporarily returned to his old love had continued to serve his gun although wounded by a grenade and Serjeant McGeever and Corporal McGuinness were outstanding in their disregard of danger and in the effectiveness, with which they handled their beloved Vickers gun. Used singly at the unorthodox ranges of 50 and 100 yards the guns did terrible execution among the enemy and their steady continuous tapping was one of the more popular noises round Bois de Mont.

Just as this last attack was wavering the Brigadier arrived with a Canadian company prepared to counterattack the Chateau. This was a well timed move and might have been Vital, if things had got only a little worse. As it was, his presence was stimulating to everybody and the arrival of the Canadian company at the Chateau put new life into the garrison. By 8 p.m. both battalion areas were clear of the enemy and the situation was once more fully in hand.

The Brigadier gave a good example of battle discipline at about this time. While he was eating a mess-tin-full of stew at battalion headquarters, an unexplained salvo of our own 25-pounder shells landed on top of headquarters. In the normal way he sprang nimbly into a slit trench on the approaching whistle but re-appeared a few seconds later pointing proudly to an unspilled mess-tin.

At about 9 p.m. after the departure of the Brigadier and the Canadians back to Le Mesnil a short sharp concentration of heavy shells fell on the battalion, followed almost at once by a stick of bombs from the usual evening aircraft. The commanding officer was stunned and blown across the road on which he was standing, Lieutenant Christie was killed and both Captain Greenway and Lieutenant Pond were concussed badly enough to have to spend 36 hours in the main dressing station. Serjeant McGeever was wounded and Corporal McGuinness, now the sole survivor of the machine- gunners, took over by himself the remaining serviceable gun, covering the Breville road.

In the aid post the M.O. , Harold Watts had had a busy day. Between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. he had evacuated 95 patients and treated many others, handling cases from both battalions after the Black Watch M.O. had been hit. His aid post had been in the middle of continuous shelling and mortaring and shells and bullets kept whistling and crashing through the trees above his head all the afternoon and evening.

There was to be no more fighting that day for the battalion. During the night some Royal Engineers arrived in the area as infantry reinforcements, and from 9.45 p.m. until midnight Breville village rocked and blazed as the 12th Battalion and the Devons captured it from the North. But as the din of that battle died away comparative peace settled over the whole front, broken only by spasmodic shelling and the occasional rattle of a nervous machine-gun. The enemy's attempts to drive in the bridgehead East of the Orne river had failed and he had made his last attack on this Eastern perimeter.

Next day, June 13th, the battalion was relieved by 52nd Light Infantry and marched away to the farm buildings on the fork roads

(Archive transcripts © Copyright Normandy War Guide)

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

Page: Page 31