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(21 JUL - 17 AUG)

20. The battalion's hopes for an early return to England were not to be realized. On 21 Jul 3 Para Bde returned to the line, moving to an area immediately south of 5 Para Bde, which continued to man the LE MESNIL position. The new brigade area extended along the western edge of the thickly timbered BOIS DE BAVENT, 1 Cdn Para Bn relieving 12 Devons in their position astride the LE MESNIL - TROARN road at 136707. The weather had broken, and heavy rain had flooded the country-side, necessitating the immediate digging of new slit trenches at the end of the wood. That night the battalion was issued with its first rum ration.

21,  After an uneventful week in the line the Canadians were relieved by 8 Para Bn, on 27 Jul, and returned to the ORNE River for a further short rest period. On the last day of July the Battalion rejoined 3 Para Bde, taking over the positions of 7 Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, of 51 Highland Div, west of the BOIS DE BURES (triangle 140705) (The Battalion War Diary gives a map reference 1,000 metres to the east, but such a position is not borne out by current patrol reports appended to the August War Diary). 3 Para Bde still held its place in the centre of the eastern line. To its left the other formations of 6 Airborne Div extended in order to the mouth of the ORNE - units of 1 S.S. Bde along the ridge north to the LE MESNIL crossroads; 6 Airlanding Bde between them and BRÉVILLE (1374); and 4 S.S. Bde completing the line from LE PLEIN (1375) to SALLENELLES (1376). On its right 6 Airborne Div was flanked by 146 Bde and other formations of 49 (V.R.) Inf Div, bending south and west through DENOUVILLE (1067) towards CÁEN. The remaining divisions of 1 Brit Corps - 3 (Brit) Inf Div and 51 Highland Div - were in the rear, west of the ORNE (W.D., G.S.,S.D., First Cdn Army, Aug 44: Location Statement First Cdn Army, 1 Aug 44.) Since 23 Jul, when First Cdn Army took over the Eastern NORMANDY sector, 1 Brit Corps had been under Canadian operational command (W.D., G.S. Ops 1st Can Army, Appx 79.) and on the day on which 1 Cdn Para Bn returned to the line at the BOIS DE BURES (31 Jul 44),First Cdn Army assumed command of 2 Cdn Corps in the CAEN area. Thus 1 Cdn Para Bn, while still part of a British brigade, a British Division and a British Corps, came for the first time under command of First Cdn Army.

22.  For the first half of August the situation on 6 Airborne Div's front saw little change. The Canadian battalion continued to send out patrols, but only meagre information about the enemy was obtained (W.D., 1 Cdn Para Bn, 6 Aug 44). Propaganda broadcasts by means of amplifiers were arranged by Brigade Headquarters, to encourage deserters, from whom identifications of enemy units might be made. (Polish deserters later stated that the Germans dismissed the general contents of these broadcasts as incorrect in view of a few inaccuracies which were contained in the remarks about their own positions and strengths - W.D., 1 Cdn Para Bn, Aug 44, Appx 3, Interrogation Report, 15 Aug 44.) Daily exchanges of artillery and mortar fire took place, the German shells and bombs usually landing accurately upon the battalion positions. On 15 Aug enemy aircraft bombed the area to the south of the Canadian position. The tempo of the German artillery fire increased. Patrols probing into the BOIS DE BURES that night and the next day encountered no enemy. It looked as though the long period of static warfare were over. On the evening of 16 Aug the unit received orders to advance the next day.

(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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