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Early on the 7th June we took over Ryes completely from the Devons, to allow them to continue to their final objective, the Longues battery. There were two major events to record this day so far as the Battalion was concerned one was a mopping-up operation by "B" Company, and the other a skirmish between the padre (Rev R. Watt. C.F.) with a burial party and some Germans who were still lying low on the Point 54 feature. Meanwhile the Hampshires completed their task of mopping up what opposition remained in the coastal villages,

Shortly before midday orders were received that the Battalion was to send a company group to mop up a party of enemy in the area of Bazenville and La Croix to the east of our sector of the bridgehead. Evidently, this party of enemy had been by-passed or overlooked by one of the other brigades, and it was by them that the commander of the 151st Brigade was believed to have been captured. The "B" Company group (under Major P.Chilton, M.C. ) included carrier and 3-in mortar detachments, and had a squadron of the Sherwood Rangers in support. The operation proved most successful, and by the evening about forty Germans had been killed and another seventy taken prisoner. The carriers, under Captain E,Hannah, in their "cut-off" role had an excellent shoot. The two sections were very well handled by Serjts Slight and Pyer. Some maps and papers of the commander of 151st Brigade were recovered, and he himself was able to escape from the enemy during the confusion caused by "B" Company's attack, Although our losses were small in this action, they included another of the "B" Company platoon commanders, Lieut E.F. Mayes (who was killed).

The other noteworthy incident to record on the 7th was the capture of thirty Germans, including one officer, by the "D" Company burial party (which was accompanied by the Padre) in the area north-west of Point 54 after a short, sharp action.

In England, during the planning stage, it had been decided that on "D plus two," ie, the 8th June, the 8th Armoured Brigade were to break out of the 50th Division bridgehead and seize successive features in an attempt to reach Villers Bocage. From the high ground north of Villers Bocage it was considered that the 8th Armoured could deal satisfactorily with enemy reinforcements moving against the bridgehead from the direction of Mount Pincon. In any event, each successive position seized by the 8th Armoured Brigade was to act as a pivot for subsequent operations by the 7th Armoured Division, who were to land after the 50th Division. As the motor battalion of the 8th Armoured Brigade, the 12th K.R.R.C., were being excluded from the earlier landing tables, a battalion of the 231st Brigade was required from the 8th June in a similar role. Thus it came about that the 1st Dorsets found themselves acting as motor battalion to the 8th Armoured Brigade - without the motors! (It is true that "A" Company, again commanded by Major Jones, who returned to duty on the 7th, were equipped with bicycles.)

The Commanding Officer left early on the 8th for Tac Headquarters of the 8th Armoured Brigade, and not long afterwards the whole Battalion moved in R.A.S.C. transport to an assembly area at Rucqueville. There we awaited events for some time, and it was 1600 hours before, led by "A" Company, the Battalion moved south through the most forward troops of the bridgehead near St Leger. We had the 4/7th Dragoon Guards in support, and the first objective was the village of Loucelles. Thereafter the route continued through the Audrieus - Bas d'Audrieu, Audrieu, Pavie and Le Haut Audrieu to Tilly-sur-Seulles and eventually to Villers Bocage. The first bound for 8th Armoured Brigade was the important feature north of Tilly known as Point 103.

(Archive transcripts © Copyright Normandy War Guide)

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

Page: Page 6