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to British and Canadian forces, 6 Airborne Div, forming part of 1 Corps of the Second British Army, was given the important task of protecting the left flank of 3 (Brit) Inf Div, which was to land on the beach west of OUISTREHAM and to capture CAEN by H-plus-12 hrs. 6 Airborne Div was to deny the enemy use of the area between the River ORNE and the River DIVES north of the road TROARN (1667) - SANNERVILLE (1368) COLOMBELLES (0770),and to hold this bridgehead until seaborne reinforcements arrived. During the period of planning, the code name "NEPTUNE" was given to the assault phase of the projected operations in the British sector. (An explanation of the relationship of the code name "NEPTUNE" to "OVERLORD" is given in the report "Canadian Participation in the Operations in North West Europe, Part I".)

6.   Formations of 6 Airborne Div, which was commanded by Maj.-Gen. R. N. Gale, O.B.E., M.C., were 3 Pera Bde Gp (which included 1 Cdn. Para Bn),5 Para Bde Gp, 6 Airlanding Bde Gp, and 1 Airlanding Recce Regt. Brought under command for operation "NEPTUNE" was 1 S.S. Bde. Each of these five forces was assigned important tasks within the divisional area. 5 Para Bde (7, 12 and 13 Para Bns),in the role of securing a link with 3 (Brit) Inf Div was ordered to seize and hold the two bridges that crossed the CANAL DE CAEN A LA MER (0974) and the ORNE River (1074) near BENOUVILLE, and to establish a bridgehead in the RANVILLE area (1073). Immediately to the south, 6 Airlanding Bde Gp (1 R.U.R., 2 Oxf Bucks) was to come down on a landing zone west of AMFREVILLE (1174) and to secure a firm base area between ESCOVILLE (1271) and the ORNE River, Making a glider landing east of RANVILLE (1174) late on D-day, the Airlanding Recce Regt was to strike southwards beyond the divisional boundary, with the intention of establishing a base at CAGNY (1064) from which further offensive operations east and southeast could be carried out. To the north the Commandos of the seaborne 1 S.S. Bde (3, 4 and 6 Commandos, and 45 (RM) Command),landing on the OUISTREHAM beaches, were assigned the task of mopping up the coastal area between the ORNE and DIVES Rivers as far south as LE PLEIN (1275) - VARAVILLE (1875). The job of preventing the entrance into the area of enemy reinforcements from the east, by demolishing six bridges across the DIVES and one of its tributaries, the DIVETTE, and by denying the use of all main roads within the divisional area, was given to 3 Para Bde (under the command of Brig. S.J.L. Hill, D.S.)., M.C.). In addition the brigade was made responsible for silencing an enemy coast defence battery at MERVILLE (155776). (W.D.., 3 Para Bde O.O. No.1, 19 May 44. Copy placed in W.D., 1 Cdn Para Bn, May 1944.).

7.   Division of the objectives of 3 Para Bde between its component units saw 9 Para Bn being given the road-denial tasks in the north (including the destruction of the MERVILLE battery),8 Para Bn receiving the bridge-blowing assignments in the southeast part of the area, and 1 Cdn Para Bn (commanded by Lt.-Col. G.F.P. Bradbrooke) being allotted to operations in the castern and central sector, in the ROBEHOMME (1972) - VARAVILLE (1875) - LE MESNIL (1372) triangle. The specific tasks of the Canadian unit as enumerated in the 3 Para Bde Operation Order were as follows:

(i) "Secure and protect DZ (1775) during landing of the Bde Gp by destruction of enemy HQ area VARAVILLE and neutralization of enemy if occupying houses area 167753.

(ii) "Destroy bridge at VARAVILLE 186758 by H plus 2 hours and cover demolitions until relieved by 1 SS Bde NOT before H plus 5 hours.

(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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