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was seen in the large number of prisoners captured from the battalion on the first day. Two platoons of "B" Company landed in the marshy ground south and west of ROBEHOMME, two miles from their prescribed D.Z. One stick of ten men from "C" Company dropped west of the ORNE River, below OUISTREHAM, more than four miles from its intended target. These parachutists were fortunate in making their way to rejoin the battalion on the following day. That so many did return safely to their unit speaks well for their individual initiative and the thoroughness of the briefing given all ranks prior to departure from England. Among the Vickers and Mortar Platoons there was an unexpectedly heavy wastage in weapons. Machine guns and mortars were carried in special kit bags, many of which tore loose during the jump and were lost (W.D., 1 Cdn Para Bn, 6 Jun 44).


10.   In spite of its initial dispersion the battalion achieved surprise, and all objectives were speedily attained. "C" Company, having secured the Dropping Zone, demolished the bridge across the DIVETTE River at VARAVILLE, and engaged a German strong point just west of the town. This position, which had to be cleared in order to secure the Dropping Zone, proved much more strongly held than had been expected. By 1030 hrs the enemy pillbox had surrendered, but not before a large number of Canadian casualties had been sustained. Its capitulation was largely brought about by the effect of our P.I.A.T. bombs, according to the evidence of a Canadian mortar detachment commander, who had landed on top of the enemy position and temporarily been held prisoner. The reduction of this post, and the destruction of the MERVILLE battery by 9 Para Bn, removed the two strongest local enemy threats to the security of the brigade area. At 1500 hours cycle troops of 6 Commando arrived, and "C" Company proceeded to the battalion area at LE MESNIL. Meanwhile the other Companies had had little difficulty in achieving their objectives. "A" Company, having covered the flank of 9 Para Bn in its successful assault on the bomb-shattered MERVILLE battery (86 Halifaxes and 13 Lancasters of 6 Group, R.C.A.F. formed the major part of a force which dropped a full bombload on the target prior to the assault) and its subsequent withdrawal to LE PLEIN, rejoined its own battalion at the LE MESNIL - BAVENT crossroads at 1530 hrs. Blowing its bridge across the DIVES River, at ROBEHOMME, "B". Coy established a defence position and observation post on ROBEHOMME HILL (1873). It remained there for a day and a half, after which the withdrawal, under German pressure, of 6 Commando from VARAVILLE compelled the removal of the company from its exposed forward site. It was called back under cover of darkness on the night 7/8 June, and reached Bn H.Q. at 0330 hrs on the morning of 8 June.

11.   The Canadian battalion's initial success was characteristic of that achieved by 3 Para Bde and by the Division as a whole. All bridges from TROARN to VARAVILLE had been blown by the 3 Para Bde units. By 1200 hrs on D-day the important bridges over the CANAL DE CAEN A LA MER and the ORNE River west of RANVILLE had been captured intact by 5 Para Bde, and by 2100 hrs the two airborne battalions of 6 Airlanding Bde (1 R.U.R. and 2 Oxf Bucks) had made successful glider landings. 1 Airlanding Recce Regt was reported to have probed to the outskirts of CAEN before rejoining 6 Airborne Div. Divisional F.D.Ls, had been established through LONGUEVAL (0872),ESCOVILLE (1271) and along the main road running south-east to, but excluding, TROARN (1667). Continual

(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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