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This became close fighting with a vengeance; we had no artillery or mortar support as they had not yet landed. The only fire support we had was from our destroyer, and it was not possible to fire naval guns within 1000 yards of our own troops. However, our FOB Capt Dupont, brought very accurate fire to bear on the outskirts of Ryes.

Every means was tried to dislodge the enemy from the trees and hedges. 'A' Coy, gallantly led by Major Frank Sadleir, tried to push on under cover of their 2 inch mortars; 'B' and 'D' Coys tried to turn the flanks but were held up when crossing the open country. Lieut Smith was killed while leading his platoon; Lieut Bull, Capt Crawley, Lieut Morris and Capt Dupont were all wounded, Lieut Foy and a portion of his platoon were taken prisoners in the melee that ensued.

These operations took time, and time could not be wasted. 'A' Coy were left to contain the enemy in the river, while 'B' and 'D' Coys disengaged in order to continue the advance on Ryes by moving up the main road to the west of La Grande Riviere. This advance was successful and Ryes was captured, after slight opposition was overcome in the streets. By 1600 hrs, the whole battalion had been committed, so it was decided that the advance towards Longues should be postponed until the battalion had re-organised. By 1900 hrs, ā€˜Cā€™ Coy, having been heavily engaged all day at Le Hamel, joined the battalion and pushed straight on towards Longues to seize the high ground known as Masse de Credaille. This they failed to do, being held up at La Rosiere a mile short of the objective. During the evening, the Bn Mortar platoon, the Anti-Tank platoon and the Carrier platoon arrived complete, having landed successfully during the day. So ended the first day of the battle for Normandy. We had accomplished the first part of our task, and it was with great delight that we heard that the 7th Armoured Division was landing rapidly behind us.

Contrary to expectation, our casualties had on the whole been light. Two officers and twenty other ranks had been killed, while six officers and sixty other ranks had been wounded. A certain number were inevitably missing, owing to the disorganisation after landing, but we expected that the majority would rejoin on the following day.

(Archive transcripts © Copyright Normandy War Guide)

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

Page: Page 13