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The first flight of the assault companies was lowered at 0545 hours on the 6th June, and at approximately 0730 hours "A" Company (Major A.A.E. Jones),right, and "B" Company (Major P.Chilton, MC),left, touched down on the beach. Dy virtue of considerations of the tide, the Hampshires and ourselves claimed to be the first British troops to land on Normandy. Another proud claim the two battalions could make us that this was their third assault landing on a hostile coast, which is believed to be a unique record. It was all done in a period of cleven months.

The Battalion were actually put a shore slightly to the east of the appointed place and the left of the Hampshires touched down opposite Les Roquettes and dealt with "A" Company's first objective. That company pushed towards Les Roquettes, but quickly lost Majar Jones, Lieut R.T.Ellis and C.S.M. Howell, all wounded; and Captain R.Royle took over command. On the left, "B" Company had to swing right for some distance before reaching Los Roquettes, and on their way they suffered considerably from shell and mortar fire, machine-gun fire and from mines. But the company was ably led by Major Chilton across the minefields he saw the need for advancing rapidly inland and away from the beaches. C.S.M. Balkwill was wounded quite early, and among the many casualties suffered by the company during the landing, most severe was the loss of Lieut J. Whitebrook, a fine young officer who had joined us at Fayid, and his Platoon Serjeant (the gallant Serjt Evans, MM and Bar),who were both killed. Meanwhile, "C" Company (Major R.M.Nicoll) and "D" Company (Major W.N.Hayes) had landed at 0745 hours. Major Nicoll quickly appreciated that "B" Company had not been landed at the right place, and so secured Les Roquettes with his own company. It was then handed over to "B" Company (who remained there as "Longstop"),and "C" and "D" Companies, now followed closely by the Commanding Officer and his Tac Headquarters, began to advance inland. Two more C.S.Ms. were wounded on the beaches - Keeley of Support Company, and Robbins of "C" Company.

The enemy opposition so far had been mainly from shelling and mortaring, with some machine-gun fire and mines. Unfortunately the bombardment, naval and air, had done less damage than had been hoped for. Enfilade fire was beginning to come from Meuvaines Ridge, as had been anticipated, and more naval fire was called down on the suspected 88 mm. positions. Some of the landing craft had come to grief on the beach obstacles and mines, and L.C.H. 317 dodged more than one awkward salvo.

Although on the whole we did not suffer too much damage on the beaches, enemy reaction had been immediate, and the whole beach area was under a considerable amount of fire. Captain C.R. Whittington, the Unit Landing Officer, did excellent work on the beaches. (He had collected a most imposing array of signs and wore a "hat of many colours," his "battle bowler" painted all colours of the rainbow.) He was wounded very early on, yet continued with his work of organizing the gapping of the beaches and routes lending from them under heavy fire. For his gallantry he won a well-deserved M.C. Serjt Talbot won the M.M. for his gallantry and great devotion among the wounded on and near the beaches without regard to his own safety. L/Cpl Harrison was another stretcher bearer who distinguished himself this day. Although wounded himself, he continued with great courage to attend to the wounded of the assault company to which he was attached. The Hampshires were encountering very stubborn opposition in Le Hamel and were suffering heavily. Major A.C.W.Martin, DSO, who had become second-in-command of the Hampshires, was killed soon after landing. The death of this most gallant and capable officer was a very serious loss, not only to his friends, but to the Dorset Regiment as a whole. Many Hampshires, old friends since the Malta days, fell on D-day, and their commanding officer was one of the first to be wounded.

(Archive transcripts © Copyright Normandy War Guide)

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Archive: NORMANDY 1st Bn The Dorsetshire Regiment (an extract from "Three Assault Landings")

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