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The advance continued rapidly, and it was soon clear that there was no more opposition between us and Port-en-Bessin. We immediately decided to turn south and take over from the 47 Commandos the high feature known as Pt 72 two miles south of Port-en-Bessin, This hill had been the scene of heavy fighting the day before, and it had changed hands twice. C Coy relieved the Commandos, and preparations were made to attack a large Chateau immediately south in full view of the hill. It was known to contain a strong enemy force who were responsible for the trouble with the Marines on the previous day. The top of the hill was subjected to spasmodic fire from the Chateau which made reconnaissance somewhat difficult. A request was made for tank and artillery support. This was only granted after Div. HQ were assured that we were in fact going to attack Germans and not Americans; the doubt had arisen because the Chateau was actually within American territory. Twice we were asked, and twice we were able to assure them, that there could be no mistake. It was at this point that we had planned to link up with Lt Col Horner's Combat Bde of the American 1st Division; however they had not yet arrived owing to the very severe fighting in which they had been involved on the beaches.

The attack on the Chateau proved to be a very trickly operation, because the battery in support could only be available until 1800 hrs. As it was already 1700 hrs, there was no time for detailed reconnaissance, and we knew there were two rivers between us and the objective. However the risk had to be taken, as an attack without artillery fire on the enemy position well dug in amongst the buildings would have been asking for trouble.

The attack started at 1730 hrs with A Coy on the right and D Coy on the left, supported by a battery of the Essex Yeomanry and a squadron of the Sherwood Rangers, who had their tanks on the very top of the hill. The Cheshire MG platoon was as usual in support, and noble work they did too. All went well until the first river was reached; both companies reported that they were temporarily checked, but a few minutes later they were across, It was the same story at the second river, only on this occasion they were in full view of the enemy, and being subjected to considerable though inaccurate fire. This had all taken time; the battery had long since departed for other work; the tanks and the MG platoon were rapidly running out of ammunition having maintained a very high rate of fire for forty-five minutes, It was a very anxious moment, but owing to the inspiring leadership of both Major Mike Holdsworth and Major Frank Sadleir, and to the intrepid gallantry of all ranks under their command, all difficulties were overcome,

The final assault was made across the Park to the accompaniment of ringing cheers from all those who were supporting the operations from the top of Hill 72.

Over a hundred prisoners were captured, and it was discovered that the Chateau was the HQ for that particular area. In praise of our men, a German Medical Officer said that he had never believed that men could advance across such difficult ground in such perfect order under fire. Although this was but a small operation, it is one of which the Regiment may well be proud,

(Archive transcripts © Copyright Normandy War Guide)

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

Page: Page 15