1st Special Service Brigade - No.3 Commando - War Diaries
5th June 1944
Place: C.18 Camp
1030 - Brigadier The Lord Lovat, DSO, MC, addresses whole Brigade.
Place: Warshas at Sea
1400 - Unit embusses in TCVs and proceeds to WARSHAS.
1630 - Unit embarks in LCI(S) 289, 290, 291, 292 and 293.
1730 - Flotilla slips and ties up at CALSHOT.
1900 - Flotilla slips and ties up at STOKES BAY.
2130 - Slip and sail in convoy with Force "S".
6th June 1944
0830 - In convoy hove to off beaches of NORMANDY. Sporadic shelling by enemy. Monitor and warship in area replying.
Place: La Breche
0905 - Touch down after run-in, the last half of which was under shell fire. LCI(S) 289 and 290 hit near beach - both in sinking condition. Some casualties in 6 Troop (LCI 290). Further casualties occur on beach. Beach under shell fire. Commando form up under C.O. and move to first check point.
0930 - Bde 46 set DIS.
1000 - Contact 45 (RM) Commando in Bde first F.U.P. All troops in less one section of 6 Troop. Only one Vickers and one mortar. Area of F.U.P. being mortared. Enemy rocket propelled projectiles land to WEST of F.U.P. Lt Cowieson treated for wounds and sent back to beach. Major JBV Pooley MC joins, and reports his batman missing. He himself is suffering from blast.
1110 - Adjt contacts B.M. near COLVILLE. Posn just NORTH of COLVILLE had held up 6 Commando but now eliminated. Bde now pushing on with help of 13/18 Hussars.
1200 - 45 (RM) Commando reach COLVILLE, followed by this Unit. COLVILLE being shelled desultorily.
1230 - Move on to bridge - 1074 - 5 Troop and remainder held up by snipers (one O.R. killed). C.O. meets Brigadier. Role now changed to defence of BAS DE RANVILLE under Brigadier Powett with 6 Airborne Div.
1530 - 3, 5, 4, 6 and some of 2 Troop across the bridge and taking up defensive posns at BAS DE RANVILLE. A.O. with Admin staff also arrive.
1540 - Lieut Wills arrives with one jeep.
1600 - Lieut A. Wardle reports 1 Troop HQ and remainder of 2 Troop crossing Bridge under smoke.
1715 - 4 enemy tanks reported on contour SOUTH of cross roads 104727. Engaged by Airborne 3" mortars. 5 Troop have laid Hawkins 75 mines across the road running SOUTH from BAS DE RANVILLE.
1800 - Snipers reported in village. Sporadic shooting but no snipers found. Bde report Lieut Ponsford and 3 Troop in LE PLEIN with remnants of a Para Bn.
1830 - Tanks reported to have withdrawn from ridge to SOUTH. F.O.B. directs 20 rounds on Enemy Infantry digging in at 092721, front edge of wood from HMS SERAPHIS.
1900 - Residue of 5 Troop under Cpl White report attack going in against 3 Div on WEST side of River ORNE. C.O. returns from visiting HQ of Brigadier Powett and reports R.U.R. landing by glider at 2130 hours tonight to relieve us. We are then to revert to 1 SS Bde. 4 Commando captured OUISTREHAM.
2000 - German fighter-bombers fly over one village - no aggressive action.
2050 - Gliders towed by D.Cs start to come in, (Troop carriers).
2115 - Large gliders carrying A/T guns and tanks coming in, towed by Liberators. Terrific fighter cover. Considerable L.A.A. opposition from the enemy.
2220 - Bde want 2 i/c or Adjt to report to Bde immediately to recce night posn.
7th June 1944
Place: Bas de Ranville
0005 - 2 i/c returns. Unit to hand over to R.U.R. and go to area SOUTH of Bde HQ and to be in posn by 0430 hrs. Activity from SOUTH. 3 Casualties from 1 Troop. Tanks and infantry reported.
0230 - CAEN area bombed by our heavies.
0315 - C.O. 2 i/c and Troop Cmdrs leave by jeep to recce new area.
0330 - Unit leaves by road (march route) for new area.
0430 - Troops allotted areas. HQ established at 114746 in orchard.
0800 - ORQMS Wardle visits Bde HQ for posns of other units.
0900 - Bde I.O. reports some A/Tk guns to be placed under command.
0915 - B.M. and A/Tk Officer arrive. C.O. goes with them to site two guns, one with 4 Troop and the other with 5 Troop.
1000 - Raid by enemy fighter bombers on beach area.
1015 - Airborne Bty of 75 m.m. Fld Guns open fire from field next to our posn.
1100 - 4 ME 109's fly over - no offensive action.
1300 - Message from Bde - "2 i/c with two Troops to support 45 (RM) Commando in their attack on FRANCEVILLE-PLAGE. 4 & 5 Troops set off with 2 i/c, F.O.B. and C.O. with party of RAMC under Sjt Spears.
1415 - Enemy bty ranging on our guns in adjoining field.
1445 - Shells and mortar bombs falling in our area.
1500 - Reported - "tanks seen in numbers on SOUTH ridge SOUTH of RANVILLE". Stragglers of RUR and DEVONS coming back. 6 Troop astride road with two 6 pdrs in support. HQ in stand-to posns astride road. 1 Troop bring section into field. MTO mounted on jeep with .55 Browning (camouflaged under glider) covers gap between 1 Troop and HQ.
1515 - Adjt visits Lord Lovat who has organised Bde HQ in better posns.
1545 - 4 tanks burning SOUTH of RANVILLE. A coy of DEVONS join us for a short time and then go back to RANVILLE.
1615 - RANVILLE reported in our hands. Shermans reported to be in action.
1710 - Adjt visits 1 Troop. All O.K. Vickers covering gap between 1 & HQ Troops.
1730 - Adjt sees Brigadier and advises him to stand his staff down.
1900 - Adjt stands half HQ down. F.M.A. at 111747 - rear of our HQ - has tried to get more ammn for Airborne 75 m.m. from MOLAR. Our S.P. guns firing heavily on WEST side of RIVER.
2000 - Commando ordered to close on Bde HQ. Adjt to Bde to receive orders from Brigadier for unit to take over defences at CHATEAU d'AMFREVILLE with Lt. Col Otway O.C. Para Bn - he has only 80 men.
2100 - Lt. Col Young and 4 and 5 Troops having taken MERVILLE. 2I/C killed, 4 and 5 Troops suffered almost 50% casualties. Lieut A. Williams missing.
Place: Chateau d'Amfreville
2200 - Commando arrives at LE PLEIN and takes over defences. 1 Troop and HQ with one Vickers defend CHATEAU. 4 and 5 Troops rest in garden. 6 Troop on rd junc 130755.
2400 - Lieut R.G. Herbert DCM MM takes out patrol. Desultory bombing and firing of small arms during night.
8th June 1944
Place: Chateau d'Amfreville
0400 - Lt Herbert's patrol returns and reports no enemy encountered.
0430 - Stand To.
0530 - SITREP from Bde HQ. "45 Cdo in MERVILLE. Enemy Pln posn being dug in area 144732. Half tracks reported in front of 2 Troop posn."
0730 - Adjt visits Bde HQ. - 6 Troop to move forward to eastern tip of wood.
0945 - Bde HQ warn us that Bn attack is imminent from area 138758 - rd 130755 - 140751 towards us.
1000 - Captain Goodall, F.O.B. (HMS HUNTER) arrives and goes to 6 Troop. 3 A/Tk guns arrive en route for MERVILLE.
1013 - 6 Troop report enemy infantry advancing astride rd 130755 - 140751. 3 Troop informed of this. One Vickers moved up from CHATEAU to support 6 Troop in counter-attack. 3" mortar O.P. with 6 Troop.
1020 - Field Regt ranging in front of 6 Troop's posn.
1100 - 6 Troop and 4 Commando engaging enemy at close range. Field Regts, HMS HUNTER and 3" mortars also engage enemy.
1130 - 6 Troop counter-attack - drive enemy half mile - take 35 P.O.W.. Completely destroyed one enemy coy (346 Inf Div) which had travelled 200 miles since invasion. Captain J. Alderson wounded. Lieut R.G. Herbert DCM MM killed. Sjt Dennis and others wounded. 3 Troop harass enemy with vickers and 3" mortars.
1200 - 6 Troop withdraw, reorganise and return to original posn. Heavy fire from Field Regt in support.
1230 - All posns intact. 6 Commando have one Troop in support on right.
1300 - B.B.C. correspondent Chester Wilmot calls.
1400 - 1 Troop patrol under Lieut J.F. Nixon MC report woods clear on SOUTH side of wood LE PLEIN running EAST.
1530 - Lt A Wardle and patrol from 1 Troop report NORTH side of wood clear.
1600 - Adjt recovers Lt Herbert's body with help of 6 Troop.
1700 - Standing patrol established in forward edge of wood - NORTH side.
1730 - Lieut R.G. Herbert buried in garden of CHATEAU d'AMFREVILLE. Brigadier The Lord Lovat is present at the service.
1800 - Lt Nixon reports two enemy with 2" mortar on other side of rd. Instructed to capture them.
2115 - Alarm - 6 Commando reported being attacked. We are ordered to send out fighting patrol WEST of LE PLEIN to clear woods - possible infiltration by enemy. Patrol to return to 6 Cdo lines about 2355 hours.
2130 - Lieut. G. Pollard MC MM with patrol reports to Brigadier to receive instructions.
2200 - Lieut Nixon reports his enterprise to capture a German having failed owing to our own mortar fire. He had subsequently to retire owing to this fire.
2400 - Lt Pollard returns - nil report.