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of the whole battalion, C Company were the only company to land in the right place, and they found that they were the first troops to land at that particular spot. Major Bubbles Duke, knowing that his objective was Asnelles, decided to attack the eastern edge of Le Hamel, still strongly held by the enemy. It was while carrying out a reconnaissance for this attack that he was killed by a sniper. His death was a bitter blow to every man in the battalion, as his was a personality that inspired us all, and his loss was one that we could ill afford, Mr Arthur Bryant has paid tribute to him in a moving and remarkable article in the Illustrated London News' of November 9th 1946.

The CO Landed in the Dorsets area. This shook him, as of course he should have landed in the Hampshires area. There were no signs of either of the leading companies, so he and his Intelligence Officer, Captain Bill Wood, turned right and walked along the beach towards Le Hamel. A number of tanks were knocked out on the beach, a flail had got about 20 yards through a minefield, but its track had come off. There was a considerable noise of rifle fire from Le Hamel, and an occasional anti-tank gun opened up. He found the CO of the Hampshires, wounded, lying on the sand, trying to direct an attack on Le Hamel; but up till that time no way inland had been found through the minefield,

The CO came across no Devons, so turned eastwards along the beach in the hope of finding a gap further along. He met the Brigade Commander who had just landed, and as they were talking, he saw some Dorsets move inland single file through the minefield; he said to the Brigadier: "If I can find any of my chaps, I will bypass Asnelles and go straight for Ryes; - anything to get away from this unhealthy beach". Soon after this, he met Major Frank Sadler and Major John Parlby. They told him that Major Mike Howard and OSM Bombo had been drowned, This fortunately proved to be untrue, although they were badly hurt, and were sent straight home to hospital,

We decided to keep well east of Asnelles, which was in enemy hands, and to cut into La Grande Riviere just south of the village. The route to be followed, however, ran perilously near, and in full view of the enemy MG positions on the high ground overlooking the river from the east.

The battalion left the beaches in single file, along a narrow footpath the sides of which were supposed to be mined, in the following order: A Coy; followed by advanced battalion HQ: D Coy and B Coy, We suffered casualties from intermittent heavy mortar fire and snipers. As we got nearer to the hill on our left we expected any moment that the enemy would open fire; fortunately for us the enemy were not occupying these positions, so we got away with it. As we moved east into La Grande Riviere, D Coy came under intense mortar fire, Major John Parlby was wounded in the leg, and there were several other casualties. CSM Bolham was badly stunned but carried on. We had lost three company commanders in three quarters of an hour.

After assembling in the valley just south of Asnelles village the advance continued, and we began to think that we were through the enemy crust and that we should have little difficulty in seizing Ryes, We were wrong. When A Coy reached a point about a 1000 yards north of the village they came under intense LMG and spandau fire at close range from enemy hidden in thick hedges.

(Archive transcripts © Copyright Normandy War Guide)

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Archive: Story of 2nd Battalion the Devonshire Regiment, 1944 Mar - June

Page: Page 12