6th Airborne Division - 6th Airlanding Brigade - 1st Battalion - War Diaries


5th June 1944
Place: Broadwell Transit Camp
1200 - Loading completed.
1900 - All Ranks informed that D Day for operation 'OVERLORD' would be 6 JUNE 1944.
2100 - Party of officers and O.R.s proceeded to Broadwell airfield to watch the departure of 9 Para. Bn commanded by Lt.Col. T.B.H. Otway. Take off commenced 2250 hrs and all aircraft away by 2350 hrs.
Meteorological: Slight wind, cloudy. Warm.

6th June 1944
Place: Broadwell Transit Camp
1000 - Final preparations for operation; morale high.
1615 - Bn parades for searching prior to move to airfields.
1500 - All personnel taking part provided with a fatless meal to prevent or reduce air sickness. Tea and water provided in Gliders and All Ranks instructed to drink as much as possible before landing. Information received from Broadwell airfield that 9 Para Bn had been dropped on correct DZs and that landing strips for Gliders on LZs had been clearly visible. Information also received from Blakehill Farm that Major Drummond who had taken off with H.Q. 6 Air Div the previous night from Harwell Airfield had forced landed and was returning to Blakehill Farm.
1700 - Bn moved to take off airfield Broadwell and Down Ampney. All arrangements proceeded according to plan, except the load in the spare glider at Broadwell. A/Tk Pl had to be changed for M.M.G. load at last moment, but completed in time before take off.
1832 - 1st combination off from Broadwell Airfield. For the first hour of the flight which took place over England the weather was [showery?] and flying conditions bumpy. After crossing the coast at approx 2000 hrs flying conditions improved.
Place: Ranville
2100 - Glider No [?] (Major G. Rickcord. B Coy H.Q.) touched down, 6 mins before time scheduled. LZ N 1/25000 sheet CAEN 116749. Slight enemy opposition on LZ from Mortars and M.G.s, and difficulty in removing tails of vehicle carrying gliders was reported. Bn check point X rds 111739. Captain Gordon reported on M.M.G. Pl glider on fire after landing.
2230 - Bn H.Q. established Le Bas de Ranville. Farm buildings 105734 and Bn reported complete less one Rfn missing from the glider which caught fire on LZ. (Rfn Woodburn [F?] Coy). DR reported Bde H.Q. established at 106731. Information received that enemy in following areas:
(a) snipers in area RANVILLE.
(b) '30' Contour between RANVILLE and ST HONORINE 1072.
(c) Longueval 0872. Strength not known.
2349 - C Coy ordered to seize and occupy Ring Contour '30'.

7th June 1944
Place: Ranville
0200 - C Coy report in position on Ring Contour '30'. No opposition encountered. One Pl M.M.G. in support. Bn task of seizing STE HONORINE and LONGUEVAL confirmed. Orders issued by CO.
C Coy to remain on 'Hill 30' as fire support.
A and B Coys Assaulting Coys. A rt. B left.  D Coy in reserve.
F.U.P. copse 095727.
Route Ranville - track junc 104734 - track junc 102734 - FUP.
0600 - Bn moves from Le Bas de Ranville.
0900 - A and B Coys enter Longueval without opposition.  C Coy subjected to heavy shelling and mortar fire.  A and B Coys move to position at 093718 and 088715 for attack on Ste Honorine. D Coy move forward to Rd junc 085715. 
1215 - A and B Coys enter Ste Honorine, but forced to withdraw owing to immediate enemy counter attack supported by S.P. Guns. Very heavy shelling and mortaring of C Coy area continues and C.O. orders evacuation of 'Ring Contour 30' and concentration of Bn in Longueval.
1600 - Bn. concentrated in Longueval. Bn H.Q. established in house [?]0151.
1615 - Area subjected to heavy and continuous enemy mortar fire; digging in proceeded in disposition shown on attached trace. Casualties during the day had been heavy, but Medical Services had been very satisfactory and all wounded personnel had been evacuated to M.D.S. in RANVILLE. In view of the early and trying 'baptism of fire' of the majority of the Bn personnel, morale was high and all were completely confident in the task of holding LONGUEVAL.
Information was received that the 2nd Bn Oxf & Bucks Lt Infy had entered ESCOVILLE but in face of a very strong counter attack had been forced to withdraw to the area of HEROUVILLETTE. Information was received that the operation to date was proceeding satisfactorily although stronger resistance had been met than had been anticipated. The assaulting divisions had cut the CAEN - BAYEUX Road.
Casualties: Killed Lt J.D.A. BOUSTEAD and four ORs.
Wounded Lt C. O'Hara, Lt D.A.S. Murphy, Lt F.W. Hindson, Lt W.E. Dean, Lt H.R. Morgan and 64 ORs.
Missing Lt R.N. Morgan and 67 ORs. Lt Morgan was last seen leaving STE HONORINE with his Pl after the withdrawal had been ordered, but no further information was forthcoming as to whether or not he had been wounded.
Meteorological Warm. Fine. 

8th June 1944
Place: Longueval
0600 - Shelling and mortaring continued throughout the night but decreased in intensity towards dawn.
0900 - Bn H.Q. moved to house of M'sieur DAVOISNE, LONGUEVAL. Further digging and improvement of positions continued during the morning, frequently interrupted by enemy snipers in small groups penetrating woods behind the Bn position. Shelling and mortaring continued particular in area of Bn H.Q., but owing to the position of LONGUEVAL on the side of a hill dropping away to the RIVER ORNE, a considerable number of shells and mortar bombs fell in and on the far side of the river.
1500 - Shells from S.P. Guns began falling in Bn area.
1515 - Area heavily shelled by guns in area of LZ M, causing casualties. Bde informed as it was believed that shelling was by British unit by mistake. This was subsequently confirmed by the finding of a nosecap from British shell. This was handed to Bde for investigation. A/Tk crew killed by direct hit on position.
1600 - Sniping continued from area behind Bn H.Q.  D+2 Sea Party commanded by [unreadable] arrived in Longueval and ordered to commenced digging immediately behind Bn H.Q.
1700 - Enemy shelling, mortaring and sniping continued throughout the day and until a late hour. Counter battery fire by own Arty. Information received from Bde that position in bridgehead area continued to be satisfactory. Enemy had made several attempts to destroy the bridges over the River ORNE and Canal without success, and a further bridge had been constructed by the Sappers.
1725 - A body of enemy seen in area behind Bn H.Q. apparently forming up for an attack. Then seen extending and moving towards B Coy area. Numbers not confirmed but approx one platoon. Enemy firstly engaged by Rfn Griffiths from attic, and considerable small arms fire followed for some time. Enemy penetrated wood immediately in front of B Coy position, to hand grenade distance where one German was shot attempting to throw a grenade into B Coy forward positions. Enemy also penetrated woods on A Coys left flank. After a considerable interchange of small arms fire, the enemy were eventually driven off after what would appear to have been a rather half hearted attack on the Bn position. Three enemy dead located and brought in for burial.
1800 - Enemy mortaring recommenced but nearly all bombs fell on far side of river. Counter battery by own mortars and Arty.
1825 - Capt Rigby arrived at Bn H.Q. and stated that the shelling of the Bn area during the early afternoon had been by British unit on far side of river. He had swum river and canal in an endeavour to stop them, and had narrowly escaped capture by enemy D.R. He subsequently recrossed the river and canal and reported back in very damp pants and vest. Reclothed in trousers from ex H.Q. TODT ORGANISATION, LONGUEVAL.
2250 - Considerable enemy interference and jamming on wireless set link with Bde H.Q. and frequent interruptions by voice speaking in English but believed to be a German station. This voice kept asking for code signs and would not give SLIDEX authentication when so challenged.
2315 - Communications with Bde reestablished, but still considerable enemy interference and jamming.