- 6 -

14.  Generally speaking, the opposition encountered by the Canadian battalion during its first ten days in France had not been severe. The enemy appeared to have few troops in the areas attacked. Most of the prisoners taken by 3 Para Bde on D-day were Poles and Russians (ibid: 7 Jun 44). Later in the fighting interrogation of Polish deserters disclosed that 857 and 858 Gren Regts of 346 Inf Div, the formations facing the 3 Para Bde front, were reinforced early in July by drafts from a coast defence regiment near BOULOGNE, Enemy sections were reported as being so arranged that to each Pole there were about eight Germans. The latter handled all automatic weapons (W.D., 1 Cdn Para Bn, Aug 44, Appx No. 3, Interrogation Report, 11 Aug 44). But the Germans took full advantage of cover, and used their infantry weapons with persistence and skill during their frequent attacks upon the Canadian position. A British War Correspondent gives a graphic account of the force of the enemy's counter-attacks in the early days of the assault:

While operations proceeded on the beaches and on the other side of the river and canal, the Germans came at us with tanks and men, again and again. At night he pushed patrols forward, probing and seeking out our weak spots. Every day men died, men were wounded, and our ranks thinned. But the Germans got nowhere: his dead were to be found in the woods along the lines, in the cornfields.... everywhere. He left burnt-out tanks and smashed mortars. Sometimes we were shelled for long periods, and the blast stripped the trees and splattered into slit trenches where it killed men.

(Guy Byam, B.B.C. War Correspondent: "A Great Feat of Arms", Radio Times, Vol. 84, No. 1086, 21 Jul 44.)

15.  Maintenance of formations of 6 Airborne - Div with supplies and ammunition was effectively carried out, after the first day's fighting, from the Divisional Maintenance Area at RANVILLE, When the parachutists jumped on D-day, all personnel carried rations for 48 hours and ammunition for 36 hours. A brigade dump of ammunition dropped from aircraft at the time of the initial assault was formed by B.R.A.S.C.O. at Brigade Headquarters (W.D. 1 Cdn Para Bn, June 1944: Adm Order No. 1, 29 May 44). On the night of 6/7 Jun a resupply drop from 50 planes took place at the Divisional Maintenance Area, two miles to the rear of the Canadian position, and for the next two weeks maintenance air missions, without meeting serious opposition from enemy fighter planes, effectively handled the matter of resupply for 6 Airborne Div (Híst Sec file, AEF/1 Can Para Bn/C/H, 6 Airborne Div Sitreps 2-27).


16.  Within a week from D-day, defences in the 3 Para Bde area had been strengthened by the arrival of seaborne reinforcements (the 3 Para Bde War Diary notes the arrival on 10 Jun of units of 153 Bde of 51 (H) Div, --5/7 Gordons and 1 Gordons in the 8 Para Bn area, and 5 Black Watch in the area of 9 Para Bn). To the north of the Canadian position German resistance at BREVILLE (1374) had been overcome, and the whole Brigade front from LE PLEIN to the BOIS DE BIVÉNT stabilized. General Montgomery had reported: "We have won the battle of the beaches", and in the British sector Operation "OVERLORD" had entered its second phase -

(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 6