|Title||The Malta Brigade Strikes Back, 1944 June|
|Description||The Malta Brigade Strikes Back, 1944 June|
By Lt Col A.E.C. BREDIN, DSO, MC, The Dorsetshire Regiment.
Taken from the Army Quarterly Oct 45
When the 231st Infantry Brigade (The Malta Brigade) went home from the Mediterranean theatre, it did so as part of that great battle-fighting division, the 50th (Northumbrian). So we eventually took down our Maltese Gross and put up in its place the sign of the 50th Division. The fact that the Malta Brigade, composed of regular battalions of the Devonshire, Hampshire and Dorsetshire Regiments, become part of the Northumbrian Division was a source of constant confusion, as it was generally thought by the outside world that everyone in the division was a "Geordie" and hailed from the Tyne or the Tees. But the Brigade fitted in very well, and it can certainly be said that we were proud of belonging to such a famous division.
We had a very brief period of comparative leisure at home in Essex, and the Dorsets will long remember the kindness and hospitality of the people of Halstead and the surrounding district. His Majesty the King visited us during that period and watched a demonstration attack on a strong point by the Dorsets. Very soon, intensive training, with a strong "combined-operations" flavour, began, and we realized that we were "for it“ again! After a short time on the bleak Suffolk coast, we went "boating" on Inverory Loch and finally settled down in a camp in the New Forest. From here we did all our final exercises (the well known "Smashes"),with landings in Studland Bay and on Hayling Island. Appropriately enough, the L.S.I. (Landing Ship Infantry) which was to carry the assault element of the Dorsets across the Channel when the big moment arrived was called the "Empire Spearhead". The "Empire Crossbow" and "Empire Arquebus” carried the remainder of the assault element of the Brigade Group, including the Hampshires, whilst the Devons, in reserve, sailed on board H.M.S. Glenroy. Among the new devices, apart from the various “monstrosities” which crawled about on the beaches, were the tanks and the self-propelled 25-pounders designed to carry out a run-in shoot from their L.C.Ts. (Tank Landing Craft) for several thousand yards. The stage was set for the "beginning of the end".
Up to the beginning of 1944, the Germans were so obsessed by the idea of an attack on the Pas de Calais that they had greatly neglected the defences of Calvados and the Normandy coast generally. Early in February, however, the coast became the scene of feverish activity, with Rommel himself taking a personal interest. It is said that the German commander‘s impatience could not be satisified everywhere, and on one of his last visit fences were hastily erected and danger signs posted in areas where some of the minefields should have been. Rommel expressed himself well pleased! The German defences consisted of mutually supporting strong points, many containing concrete emplacements and either including or protecting batteries and single infantry and anti- tank guns. Many of these strong points were protected by minefields and there were anti-tank ditches here and there. The bench obstacles consisted of several rows of
(Archive transcripts © Copyright Normandy War Guide)