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The Battle of the Bridge-head

During the night of June 6th, the battalion re-organised in preparation for the advance on the following morning to capture Longues Battery. At 0530 hours the battalion moved off to occupy the intermediate objective known as the Masse de Credaille, B Company leading followed by A and D Companies. No opposition was encountered and the feature was occupied at approximately 0700 hrs. The move towards Longues continued with C Coy leading supported by B Coy. When we got to within 3000 yards of the village we had our first view of the Battery itself, The CO and Lieut Frank Pease, now commanding C Coy, looking through their field glasses, wondered whether in fact the area was still occupied.Their doubt was soon dispelled by the appearance of two Germans walking slowly across the area. At this moment the Brigade Commander arrived to say that the guns of HMS AJAX and a squadron of fighter-bombers would be available to support the attack. As we knew the strength of the position was still formidable, in spite of the RAF softening up, we gladly made use of their assistance. It was decided that the guns of the AJAX would fire until 0845 hrs, at which hour the squadron of fighter-bombers would blast the place for five minutes. The MG Platoon of the Cheshires under Capt Bill Williams would give direct support to the infantry attack, timed to take place at 0900 hrs.

Remembering the mines shown in the air photographs, C Coy advanced through the village and attacked the Battery from the south. The attack was completely successful, and there was only spasmodic opposition. The gun casemates were found to be extremely massive, and a series of under ground tunnels meant that mopping up was not devoid of risk should any determina enemy put up a fight. It was during this mopping up operation on the edge of the cliff's that Captain Nobby Clark was killed. His loss was a severe blow and one that was keenly felt by all ranks,

The shooting of HMS AJAX had been first class; there were two direct hits on the guns themselves, and all the gun crews had been killed at their posts, presumably by blast, Over 120 very shaken prisoners were captured Various representatives of 50 Div HQ assisted us in the attack and did yeoman service in bolting the enemy out of the underground tunnels. The rest of the day was spent quietly. It is interesting here to note that our D Day objective had been achieved exactly as planned, the only difference being that we were twelve hours late.

In the meantime news had filtered through that the 47 Marine Commandos were having a very stiff battle at Port-en-Bessin and were being hard pressed. Our carrier platoon therefore went to their immediate assistance and got seriously embroiled on the outskirts of the Port

On 8th June the advance continued westwards along the coast, in order to clear the remaining platoon posts and to link up with the Commandos. The post of Le Mesnil surrendered after an artillery and MG bombardment. 2 officers and 36 other ranks were captured. We suffered no casualties

(Archive transcripts © Copyright Normandy War Guide)

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

Page: Page 14