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23.  The forward move which all ranks of 1 Cdn Para Bn had been awaiting for ten weeks, and which in ten days thereafter was to carry them forty miles onwards to the mouth of the River SEINE (thirty miles as the crow flies),began early on the morning of 17 Aug, as part of an operation that set in motion the whole line held by 1 Brit Corps. On the right flank of First Cdn Army FALAISE (1436) had fallen (16 Aug); the pivot of the enemy's whole position in NORMANDY had been smashed, and a large part of his army was encircled and being destroyed, while the remainder retreated eastward. As its share of the general Allied offensive 1 Brit Corps, whose boundary with 2 Can Corps ran approximately along the line northing 50, through ST. PIERRE-SUR-DIVES (2649),was directed to advance on LISIEUX (5387) . (W.D., G.S.Ops, H.Q. First Cdn Army, Appx 66, G.S. Memo, 16 Aug 44).

24.  The corps front stretched from the mouth of the ORNE River to ST. PIERRE-SUR-DIVES, and was held by 51 (H) Div and 7 (Brit) Armd Div in the south, 49 (Brit) Div in the centre, and 6 Airborne Div in the north. 6. Airborne Div was practically in the same positions it had seized on D-day, from SALLENELLES (1376) to the outskirts of TROARN (1667). 1 Belgian Group (Light Brigade) and Royal Netherlands Brigade (Prinses Irene) had come under command in the ANFRÉVILLE - BRÉVILLE area (1374),while southwards along the LE PLEIN - BOIS DE BAVENT ridge were stationed in order 6 Airlanding Bde, 1 S.S. Bde, 3 Para Bde, and 4 S.S. Bde. In reserve at RANVILLE was 5 Para Bde. (For a note on the employment of the Dutch and Belgian contingents and their organization see First Can Army Instr. No. 9 d. 2 Aug 44. W.D., G.S., Ops HQ. First Cdn Army, Aug 44, Appx 7.) In the plan for the Division's advance 4 S.S. Bde was to form a firm base north of TOUFFREVILLE (134696); on the left flank 6 Airlanding Bde was to push towards CABOURG (2179),at the mouth of the DIVES River; in the centre 1 S.S. Bde was directed on BAVENT (1673) - VARAVILLE (1875); while on the right 3 Para Bde vas ordered to seize and hold BURES (1769) (W.D., 3 Para Bde, Aug 44, 3 Para Bde O.O. Exercise "PADDLE", 9 Aug 44).

25.  1 Cdn Para Bn was given initially a reserve role in Operation "PADDLE" (the name given to 3 Para Bde's advance on 17 Aug). The operation commenced at 0300 hrs. While 9 Para Bn and 8 Para Bn completed the occupation of BURES by 0700 hrs, without encountering opposition, the Canadian Battalion took over a larger section of the Brigade front (139706 - 147695),and at 0800 hrs began a sweep through the BOIS DE BAVENT (shown as BOIS DE BURES on 1:25,000 sheets). The enemy, who for ten week's had held the wood so tenaciously, had now withdrawn, but not without leaving behind him mines and booby traps that delayed "B" Coy in their advance, and cost the Canadians ten casualties. Bridges across the River DIVES at BURES had been demolished, but by the late afternoon a passable route had been constructed by 3 Para Sqn R.E., and all units of the brigade crossed before nightfall. By 2100 hrs 1 Cn Para Bn, having advanced three miles along the railway running north-east from BURES, had made contact with the enemy at PLAIN LUGAN (2072),and taken up positions for the night there. 8 Para Bn was at GOUSTRANVILLE (2271),9 Para Bn in reserve at 2171, and Bde H.Q. at ST. RICHER (2069).

26.  The lack or comparative lightness of enemy resistance encountered by 3 Para Bde on the first day, and in general during the whole period, or the advance to the SEINE, underlines the instructions of the G.O.C., 6 Airborne Div, given to the Brigade prior to the commencement of Operation "PADDLE", "to advance if

(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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