- 5 -

attacks from the south had all been held (Hist Sec file, AEF/1 Cdn Para Bn/C/H, 6 Airborne Diy Sitrep No. 3, 7 Jun 44). The first round had been won, and now it was a question of holding on until seaborne reinforcements should arrive. The aerial phase of their initial assault behind them, the members of 1 Cdn Para Bn were destined to operate solely as infantry troops for the remainder of their stay in France. Nine months were to elapse before they again used parachutes to drop into action. In the meantime they put into practice the lessons learnt during months of preparation in Southern England. And in the difficult weeks that followed D-day, when enemy infantry and sometimes tank and S.P. attack had to be met with an inferior weight of fire power, the insistence that had been placed upon intensive weapon-training at BULFORD proved itself a worth-while investment (see Report No. 138).


12.  The morning of D-plus-1 found 1 Cdn Para Bn (less the "B" Company party still at ROBEHOMME) concentrated astride the LE MESNIL crossroads protecting Brigade Headquarters. Three mortars that had arrived by sea, replacing to some extent those lost during the parachute descent, were set up in position in the brickworks near the crossroads and manned by the mortar platoon. The expected counter-attack materialized in the early morning hours, when German infantry of the 857 and 858 Grenadier Regiments of 346 Div, supported by S.P. guns and a number of Mk. IV tanks, attacked the forward companies' positions. A surprise effect was achieved by the mortars, which found an ideal target in the infantry grouped along the road, and the heavy casualties inflicted upon the enemy considerably exceeded the Canadian losses in the engagement. With the support that this mortar fire gave to the battalion's infantry sections the attack was repulsed, and the rest of the day was quiet save for activity by enemy snipers. This reverse inflicted upon enemy armour by lightly armed airborne forces is a decidedly notable incident.

13.  For the next ten days events followed a fairly regular and unchanging pattern. Small-scale attacks of one or two-platoon strength on our part secured points of vantage on the edge of the defended area, and helped to stabilize the brigade front. In these operations artillery support was given by naval bombardment (the cruiser "Arethusa" and one destroyer were allotted to 3 Para Bde for fire support - Appx "A" to 3 Para Bde 0.0. No. 1),and from field batteries of 3 Brit Div Arty, which came in support of 6 Airborne Div early on D-day (302 Fd Bty came under command - Trace "X" to 3 Para Bde 0.0. No. 1). Constant patrolling, twenty four hours of the day, was maintained by the battalion in attempts to obtain information about enemy dispositions and movements. In general these patrols were unable to probe very deeply into the opposing defences before they found themselves pinned down by superior numbers, and were forced to return to their own lines. During the whole of this period sporadic shelling and mortaring of the battalion and brigade positions continued without inflicting many casualties, and enemy snipers in trees and hedgerows proved a nuisance factor until they were "winkled out". More unpleasant was the shooting up of Brigade H.Q. and the Main Dressing Station by Typhoons on 13 Jun, when two Canadian officers were wounded and a French female civilian killed (W.D., 3 Para Bde, 13 Jun 44).

(Archive transcripts © Copyright Normandy War Guide)

Found an error?

Found an error with this archive item? report it here!

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

Page: Page 5