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(iii) "Destroy bridges at ROBEHOMME 195727 and 199739 by H. plus 2 hours and cover demolitions." (But there is no indication on the 1:25,000 map of the area of the existence of any bridge, or need for one, at 199739. Nor does the account of the operation in 1 Can Para Bn's War Diary make any reference to the destruction of such a bridge. It may be assumed that this was one of a number of small bridges over ditches within "B" Company's area.)

(iv) "Cover move to and assault on battery (MERVILLE) by 9 Para Bn from interference from south.

(v) "Seize and hold the area around the road junction 141728."

(ibid, para 8)

This road junction topped the narrow LE PLEIN - BOIS DE BAVENT ridge, a strategic feature, 180 feet high, dividing the ORNE and DIVES valleys. Possession of this thickly wooded ridge would protect the BENOUVILLE bridges (See para 3),and prevent enemy observation of the RANVILLE bridgehead. (W.D. 1 Cdn Para Bn, Jun 44, "Appreciation of Situation by Brig. S.J.L. Hill, D.S.O., M.C., 14 Apr 44".) Because of these factors the vicinity of the crossroads was selected as the site of the 3 Para Bde Command Post, with headquarters of the three battalions grouped around it. Of the above tasks for 1 Cdn Para Bn, (i) and (ii) were assigned to "C" Coy, (iii) and (v) to "B" Coy, and (iv) to "A" Coy (Hist Sec file, AEF/1 Cdn Para Bn/C/I, Folio No. III (c): 1 Cdn Para Bn O.O.. No. 1, 28 May 44).


8.   After a postponement of 24 hours because of unfavourable weather, the Allied invasion of FRANCE began in the early hours of 6 Jun 44. 1 Cdn Para Bn had emplaned late on 5 June, in two sections. "C" Company, moving with Adv Bde HQ to neutralize opposition on the Dropping Zone, took off in twelve Albemarles from HARVELL airfield, between OXFORD and READING, at 2230 hrs. The remainder of the battalion left from DOWN AMPNEY, between SWINDON and CIRENCESTER, at 2325 hrs, travelling in 38 Douglas C-47 Dakotas, three of which towed gliders, carrying jeeps and trailers loaded with ammunition and signals equipment. Each parachutist carried normal equipment, including fighting knife, toggle rope, escape kit, with French currency, and two 24-hour rations. In all a man's load amounted to approximately 70 pounds. A special duty party from the 1st Canadian Parachute Training Company attended the battalion to the concentration area, and relieved it of various administrative tasks during the final stages of preparation for the assault.

9.   The Canadian descent from the skies upon the fields and woods of NORMANDY was made between 0100 hrs and 0130 hrs on D-day (6 Jun 44). Comparatively few of the men hit the designated Dropping Zone. Although flying conditions were good, and landmarks clearly visible, the dispersion was very bad , and the actual dropping zone extended over a general area (eastings 12-19, northings 72-76) ten times the size of that originally projected. This apparently faulty air navigation might have had far more unfortunate results than actually ensued. Its result

(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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