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and when it is certain that the enemy were withdrawing" (ibid: Appx A2, Report on 3 Para Bde Operation "PADDLE"). The lightly equipped formations of 6 Airborne Div, which had very little armour at its disposal (see para 46),were not intended to drive against heavily armed enemy forces nor to storm strongly held positions, Their part in the general eastward advance now beginning was rather to keep contact with a retreating enemy, driving his rearguards back, and mopping up isolated pockets of resistance as these were encountered.

27.  Further progress of 3 Para Bde was halted by the enemy's destruction of the bridge (237720) across the ST. SAMSON - DIVES -SUR-MER Canal. This canal parallels the DIVES River in a general north-easterly direction, swinging north to cut across the TROARN - DOZULE road 1,000 yards east of GOUSTRANVILLE. But the map showed four bridges crossing the canal at 400-yard intervals in squares 2372 and 2371, the northernmost one carrying the railway line from TROARN just west of its junction with the main line running south from DIVES-SUR-MER. 1 Cdn Para Bn was ordered to seize the four bridge positions, and to ascertain whether any were passable to infantry or vehicles.

28.  Zero hour was set at 2145 hrs (18 Aug). At 2030 hrs the unit left PLAIN LUGAN to form up at the crossroads (2271) west of GOUSTRANVILLE, The attack went in on schedule, and by 2220 hrs "C" Coy had seized the railway bridge. The southernmost bridge was taken by "A" Coy, who named it "CANADA BRIDGE". By 2350 hrs all bridges were in the hands of the Canadians, who continued to hold them throughout the night, 150 prisoners were taken, and the Brigade report on the operation refers to "the Canadian battalion as having successfully liquidated two enemy companies in well fortified positions" (ibid: Appx, A2, Report on 3 Para Bde Operation "PADDLE II"). Considering the nature of the task casualties were surprisingly light.

29.  The railway bridge, though partially demolished, was found to be passable to infantry. Shortly after midnight 9 Para Bn crossed, in four feet of water, and by 0245 hrs had seized the railway line and routed the balance of the enemy battalion. Heavy German shelling and mortaring came from dominating high ground further east, but in the course of the morning 5 Para Bde went through, crossing by CANADA BRIDGE to the south, and followed by 4 S.S. Bde and 1 S.S. Bde. That night the G.O.C. 6 Airborne Div congratulated the units of 3 Para Bde on their exploits in Operations "PADDLE" and "PADDLE II". The Brigade had indeed made a good showing. In the first three days of its advance it had successfully driven enemy rear guards from the "island" enclosed by the DIVES River and the Canal, and it had overcome difficult obstacles with a loss to the Germans of a full battalion (of 744 Gren Regt of 711 Inf Div).

30.  While 1 S.S. Bde and 4 S.S. Bde pushed forward to clear the DOZULE (2673) area of the enemy, units of 3 Para Bde remained for two days in the GOUSTRANVILLE area, the Canadians holding their defensive positions at the four bridges they had captured. Enemy shelling on both days (19 and 20 Aug) caused a few casualties, and enemy aircraft dropped some bombs on the first night, without however causing damage. On the morning of 21 Aug the Brigade started to move forward on foot towards ANNEBAULT (4201),passing through the two S.S. Brigades at DOZULE.

(Archive transcripts © Copyright Normandy War Guide)

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Archive: The 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion in France (6 June - 6 September 1944)

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