1st Special Service Brigade - No.45 (Royal Marine) Commando - War Diaries


6th June 1944
0910 - 45 RM Cdo landed at LA BRECHE WEST of the R ORNE as part of the 1 SS Bde. The Bde was to push inland and contact the 6 Airborne Div who were holding the bridges across the CAEN CANAL and the R ORNE. By 1415 the Bde had reached the bridge over the CAEN CANAL and contacted the 6 Airborne.  Snipers were proving themselves a nuisance in this area and while 45 RM Cdo was between the two bridges LT.COL. RIES was wounded in the left leg by a sniper and MAJ GRAY took command of the Cdo. After crossing the R ORNE 45 RM Cdo now swung NORTH to its objective, to clear the enemy out of FRANCEVILLE-PLAGE and hold a defensive position to the EAST of the village. On entering SALLENELLES the Cdo came under fire from a strong point in the area of the SPIT 135773. As time was getting on the C.O. decided to by pass this position and push on to FRANCEVILLE. Word was then received from Bde not to proceed further than MERVILLE but to dig in and consolidate for the night.

7th June 1944
In the morning on instrs from Bde the Cdo withdrew from MERVILLE and dug in SOUTH of SALLENELLES. Casualties to date were one other rank killed, Lt.Col. Ries and 16 other ranks wounded, and Lt. Nelson Sigs Offr, Lt Kennedy Int Offr, and Lt. Winston and 28 other ranks missing. During the morning the Cdo came under fire from mortars in the area SPIT 135773. At 1300 hrs the Cdo was warned to move again to its objective FRANCEVILLE and when it moved at 1300 hrs came under heavy shell fire. A 6 pdr gun and 4 MMGs gave us covering fire while passing SALLENELLES.  At 1705 hrs the attack on FRANCEVILLE commenced and two troops managed to get to the Northern end of the village. The enemy counter attacked with Mortars and MMGs at 2100 and as the Cdo had lost its 3" Mortars through casualties and also its Bde set it was impossible to get any support so it was driven back to MERVILLE. That night three men were sent back to Bde to report the situation. They returned in the morning with another Bde set and orders that MERVILLE must be held at all costs.

8th June 1944
During the morning the position became worse. Two heavy attacks had been driven off. The enemy had also brought up an anti-tank gun and was shelling and mortaring our positions. At 1700 hrs orders came from Bde to withdraw through enemy lines and join up with Bde at AMFREVILLE. By 2000 hrs the Cdo had successfully broken through silencing two MMG posts on the way and capturing one 81 mm mortar while suffering only two casualties. The Cdo rested in a church in AMFREVILLE for the night.