William (Billy) Moore
I went to a Young Soldiers' Battalion of the Royal Ulster Rifles. We went to Essex, and we were disbanded. Some went to the London Irish, and I went to a place called Hawick in Scotland. We did training up in a place named Inverary, way up in the hills, off the beaches where the boats, the landing barges were.
We went up to a place called Dartmount up in England, where we were under tents waiting for the invasion. A place called Droxford near Southampton. We were there for about 3 weeks, and we weren't allowed out for nothing. And we got visits from the Queen - she was Queen then - and all, General Montgomery and all their dignitaries.
And then going up round Portsmouth and all for the Invasion.
We were there 3 weeks, nearly a month. In the camp, waiting for the invasion. Then we went on the ships at the ports, and round and round for the 3 nights.
It was rough. I can tell you, it was rough.
We went around the coast of France 2-3 times, because it was too rough, and went in the third time. We had bicycles with us because they thought we were just going to walk into Cambes. They thought it would be easy. The sea was so rough that we threw the bicycles overboard and you could see bodies floating in the water.
We landed half a mile from Sword beach. So we made our way in. But some of the boys, you didn't see them, because some of them just drowned.
And then we we were meant to take Cambes. We had no idea what it was going to be like. We were met with tanks and machine gun fire; they hit us with everything. We didn't think there would be so much against us. I saw lads younger than me laying dead in the field with their kit around them. You would have thought they were sleeping.
We lost 182 men in Cambes wood by crossfire and sniper and tanks and we lost 3 officers in my own company.
I lost a lot of mates and friends.
Bogged down, couldn't move for crossfire. You got up sometimes out of your slit trench for a smoke, and whatever you were ... and you heard something coming, the bomb comb. If you were quick enough you got in, and if you weren't quick enough ... that's how I lost one of my friends. We were up having a wee chat up on the top of the slit trench, and we heard something coming over. We jumped, but he wasn't quick enough.
So we buried him nearby in Cambes Wood. He came from Belfast.
It must have been 3 weeks there. We were supposed to make for Caen, into Caen. It was the Panthers that stopped us. Different Regiments of the Germans. They were right fighters!
So we went into Caen with the Canadians. We were the first Battalion in Caen, the Rifles. They had, the night before into Caen, there was a thousand-bomber raid. We watched them all from the hill where we were, going in and bombing. And we had to follow in after that, there was some bits of streetfighting, to clear the place. Battleships firing from sea - just landed too short!
I was lucky enough at the time. I went to Troarne, a place called Troarne. We lost a lot of men there. We went up to a crossroads, and up came a German tank, and he let fly. Some of the head NCOs and and a lot of the men was killed there, and they gave us a bit of a battering. We were held up there a while. We held up there.
You didn't know who you were fighting with. Men were just getting knocked down and replaced all the time.
NT transport. We had to move up 283 miles. You fed and all and slept in the vehicles. Then we got off up the river [Ypres?] and stayed there, then we had to go back for a rest. After from D-Day, up to river [Ypres?]. Then we moved towards Belgium, across into a place called River Erne.
We were doing an attack one night, with the 9th Brigade. The KOSB, they were with us, and they done their attack. The 2nd Batt did their attack.. and then the Second Lightenings came behind us, and they were forced back again. Our Col, Col Harris then, he said "we'll do it".
We started to move, and the next minute was a Very light up in the air, and the next minute was the mortar attack. It was a 7-barreled mobile mortar, and it had us pinpointed. I got one right up my side, and my mate was killed - he lay across my legs. He got it through the shovel on his back - it must have cut the spine or something. That was it. So that was me out.
2 weeks till the war was over. '45. I was hit in Belgium and then I was brought back to the field hospital. And then I was flown to Queen Elizabeth orthapaedic in Birmingham, and I stayed there for a lot of months. Then I was sent to Osmond Street for the bone. And then down to Belfast - Craigavon hospital - and then I attended the Lagan Valley down here. I used to wear the caliper in the old leg. You can only bind the leg so much.
In 2nd Batt, A Coy, 9th Plat, there was 3 mates known as the "BBC" - Burrows, Beck and Crangle. Crangle was killed in Cambes. As I said before, he wasn't quick enough. We were having a wee smoke on the top, and he was buried in Cambes.
We used to get leave every 9 wks until the Invasion started. Maybe 14 days, maybe 7 days. The Ulster Rifles, we all came home together. When we came to the town here we went all our seperate ways, then we met up. Everything was all right. There were some injured. A fellow lost his finger, Tommy lost an eye, one fellow was killed by his own machine - Light Infantry. It was on the line, blew up. He was standing beside it, that was the last we seen of him.
WW2 People's War is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. See http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/00/a5844800.shtml
In 1940 Stanley Burrows was eighteen years old and, inspired by the distinguished military careers of his father and uncles, was desperate to join the army. However he was already in full-time employment and his father, aware of his desire to sign-up, and reluctant to have another son join the front-line, had persuaded his bosses at the shipyard to refuse him permission to leave on the grounds that he was involved in ‘important work’ for the war effort. Undeterred, Stanley came up with a cunning plan, he would get himself sacked from Harland and Wolf and be free to join up!
Everything went according to plan. Having been 'successfully' dismissed from his job, Stanley was able, to join the 70th Battallion of the Royal Ulster Rifles. His intensive training began almost immediately and before his platoon’s eventual move to England in 1941 Stanley had taken part in two air-raids in Belfast and had already been exposed to the horrors of war. Standing on duty in Belfast’s Corporaton Street he was responsible for guiding the frightened masses of people to safety and later, digging casualties and bodies from the rubble.
The 70th battalion's move to England, was closely followed by a decision to disband the unit, volunteers were sought for other divisions within the Rifles. ‘Anxious for thrills’ Stanley tried to sign up for the Commandos but his application was too late, however he was more fortunate in applying for the 6th Airborne Division and was accepted into the Gliders.
To earn his ‘Para's wings’ a soldier had to make eight flights. On his first flight, Stanley recalls asking the pilot how many trips he had made, this would be his third, and he’d crash landed the first two, was the reply! But they made it down safely - although he does remember some hairy moments when they landed and crashed through hedges or anything else that got in the way.
Still someway short of eight jumps, Stanley was called in for a second medical and alarm bells immediately started to ring. On entering the army, he’d managed to disguise a perforated eardrum, continuously seeping he’d dried it out by pouring peroxide into his ear – had he now been discovered?
He had been! After just six weeks with the Paras he had to be released, it was decided that his feet would have to remain firmly on the ground.
It wasn’t until many years later when his mother had died that Stanley discovered she’d notified the authorities of his condition. Out of deep concern for his wellbeing and anxious that he was putting himself in added jeopardy by being in the Gliders, she had written a letter to his superiors warning them of his perforated eardrum.
Although unable to continue in the 6th Airbourne Division, Stanley was welcomed into the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Ulster Rifles, 3rd Division. Intensive training began almost immediately. Although the men were under the illusion that they were being deployed to the Mediterranean for the invasion of Sicily, word eventually spread that General Montgomery, who had fought before with the Ulster Rifles, was commandeering them for his new mission.
In May 1944 the Battalion was moved to Draxford in the South of England, still unaware of the exact location of their mission they were faced with sand models of the Normandy beaches, Stanley to this day and with the benefit of hindsight, marvels at how lifelike and identical they were to the beaches on the French coast.
Training was relentless and rigorous, Monty believed that in a war situation it was ‘noise and fatigue’ that breaks a man down, so in training live Bren guns and rifles were fired over the heads of the men and when the weather became really bad exercises were lengthened rather than shortened!
The hardy 3rd division were selected in May 1944 to take part in Exercise Fabulous, a precursor of what was to come in the next month. On arrival back to camp the men were treated returning heroes, something they did nothing to dispel.
Bad weather resulted in the initial postponement of Operation Overlord, but two days later the allies were ready to advance to France. Stanley recalls men crammed in tight, sitting on beds stacked in tiers of four or five, from floor to ceiling. Many were sick, the seasickness tablets seeming only to exacerbate their condition. After rendezvousing with the rest of the forces at a designated point in the Channel called Piccadilly Circus, men were allowed above deck. Below, a calmness permeated the ship as the men were instructed to write a last letter home, Stanley wrote to his mother, saying all the things he felt he should of but had never got around to saying.
As Stanley’s ship approached Sword Beach he remembers being absolutely amazed at the blackness of the sea and air - covered with ships and planes. The Germans began to attack almost immediately and Stanley’s landing craft was hit by a shell, which passed through the hull and luckily failed to explode.
Grounding the ship in eight foot of water, two members of the division went ashore first, taking with them a lifeline (a rope), which the others were to use to guide them to the beach. Looking over the side of the ship into the water below Stanley knew that he’d never make the shore if he had to carry his bicycle, his Brem gun (Betsey) and 56 pounds of equipment, so he made a quick decision and
ditched his bicycle.
The shelling was relentless, and all around men were falling into the water, miraculously everybody from Stanley’s company managed to make it to onto the beach unharmed, forging on to the assembly point at Leon-Sur –Mer, a small village about a mile inland. Snipers constantly bombarded the sodden troops on the way to the assembly point, however the battalions excellent sniper team managed to deflect any serious threat.
However it was while bedding down after having dug in for the night that Stanley encountered his first German at close quarters. Aware of a rustling within earshot, Stanley and a colleague were suspicious, was it a wild animal in the woods or was it something more sinister?
The next day the Battalion were ordered to capture Cambes, a small village thickly wooded and six miles inland, that was strategically important for progression towards Caen. Believed to be lightly held by the Germans and surrounded by a large ten-foot wall, the Rifles D company were to lead the attack, followed up by Stanley and A company. As A company advanced up the road four Luftwaffe fighters appeared from nowhere and riddled the middle of the road with heavy fire, the men who’d been marching up either side of the road, dived for cover, unbelievably not one was injured.
Forging into the wood D company lost many men that day, the Germans had a much securer hold on it than had originally been suspected and Stanley and his company were forced to retreat. On the way back they were sought refuge in a house which had been occupied by German forces, and it was here that Stanley again cheated death for the second time that day.
On the 9th June, a consolidated attack was planned for the capture of Cambes Wood. The battalion was to advance at 15.15 hrs, traversing through the open cornfield to reach the U shaped hole in the ten foot wall surrounding the wood. As the men progressed fifteen feet into the field the assault started, the heavy shelling and mortar fire were relentless, men were falling all around, Stanley’s platoon officer, lying with blood trickling down his face waved his hand at Stanley for the men to continue advancing. Stanley and his colleagues, still standing, made a run for the hole in the wall, nine of them made it, but inside they were to witness a scene of terrible carnage – all around British and German soldiers were lying dead.
The nine of them then fought their way to a large farmhouse, where Lieutenant Corporal White asked for a volunteer to run back to the company to let them know of their whereabouts. Stanley gallantly offered. Running back through the wood, at a frantic pace, he had to keep shouting to the men from his company not to shoot, that he wasn’t a German. On reaching the company puffing and panting and obviously out of breath, Stanley became more incensed than he’d ever been with a fellow soldier. Unsympathetic and seemingly oblivious to Stanley’s ordeal, the officer in charge barked at him to stop spluttering and say what he had to say. At that moment risking his life to notify this man seemed like a foolhearty gesture!
Although they experienced heavy casualties the battalion managed to secure Cambes that day.
From then on Stanley and his company were stationed at Cambes. On the 17th June 1944, Stanley caught sight of a chicken wandering around No-man's land, constantly hungry, he immediately sprung into action and within minutes the bird was captured and placed with some goosegabs and leaks in a in a biscuit tin. Cooking up the chicken soup, a shell struck the petrol and the tin splashed the boiling liquid all over a startled Stanley. He immediately dived for cover and covered his hands and face in earth, however he didn't realise that he'd caught fire and his fellow officers had to extinguish his burning clothes. Havingnegelected to seek treatment from the medics, Stanley's body went into shock that evening and by morning his exposed skin had blistered all over, his fate was sealed, he had to return to England for treatment. Even his return home was not without incident, flying back over the Channel his plane came under fire from the Royal Navy, yet again Staley managed to remain unscathed!
After recuperating in England Stanley rejoined the Rifles but was injured again on 9th August 1944, this heralded the end of his service with them. However he did continue to serve with other units, and was attached to the 1st Paras when they joyously liberated the gratefull citizens of Copenhagen.
Stanley army career ended in 1946, when he was demobbed. By then, he had gratefully escaped many precarious and dangerous situations with his life intact, however he witnessed many horrific sights, but none more personally upsetting than the death of his close friend Crangles. Coming through their training together, Crangles and Stanley forged a close friendship, with Stanley even refusing promotion to stay with his pal. Crangles horrific death at Cambes Wood left an indelible print on Stanley's mind. However travelling back many years later to Cambes Wood, and witnessing the fitting tributes and graves given to Crangles and the others, has helped assuage the discontent that Stanley felt for many years.
Ten days before D-day, we were locked up in a military camp near Southampton: since we had been briefed about the operation, we were not allowed to get out. As an additional precaution, the officers were given lots of maps - I think I had about 14 - with fictitious names on them. If anybody had been trying to send the information out, it would not have made any sense. We were provided with the correct plan just before we crossed the Channel.
We boarded in Southampton on June 4. A day later, all the ships assembled midway. It was a fantastic sight: the sea was absolutely full of boats of all sizes. We reached Normandy the following morning, and landed on Sword beach at 10am.
The shore was already secured, but the shelling and the mortar bombing was still going on. There were underwater obstacles with mines tied to them. The beach was strewn with anti-tank defences. The area had an awful lot of injured and dead people floating in the water.
Many soldiers could not get off the boats because they had been wounded. One of the ramps of our craft was hit, so we had to jump from all sides. The water was about four foot deep, five when a wave came in. A fellow officer told me later I looked like a floating metal mushroom leading a platoon to battle.
On top of all our equipment, we were dragging folding bicycles. The idea was that we would be able to travel more quickly inland. That was so stupid: we dropped them within half an hour of being in Normandy. The Germans would have laughed their heads off anyway.
We took off very quickly across the beach and rallied to our assembly area, a field behind the church of Lion-sur-Mer. Our battalion was lucky: we only had a few casualties.
Our objective was to liberate Caen but, six miles inland, we had a terrible battle in a village. We lost 11 officers and 180 soldiers. Later, we spent three, four weeks fighting in Cambes, where Montgomery was attracting the bulk of the German resistance. We were 100 yards from their defences, so it was very uncomfortable at times, with rockets and shells firing at us. You could not move from your trench unless you knew there was another one you could jump into.
One night, one of my chaps, John, asked if he could read a few passages from a religious book he carried with him. I agreed, and soon all these tough Irishmen were intently listening to him. I think they felt calm and contented to know that God was with them.
My mother had bought me a leather-bound mini-Bible, which I carried with me the entire time I was in France. It was of great comfort to me: I found myself touching it sometimes, when things turned nasty.
While in Normandy, we were up against SS Panzer divisions but also, sometimes, Hitler Youth troops - little blighters we knew had shot prisoners of war. There were numerous pockets of German opposition that needed dealing with.
We were very welcomed by the inhabitants. They were delighted to see us after what they had suffered at the hands of the Germans. One chap, a resistance leader, kept toasting us with a bottle of calvados, shouting: "Liberté!" A woman offered me some stale bread. I refused at first it because she probably did not have a lot to eat - and I don't think I could have eaten it anyway. But she was most upset, so I took it.
I was wounded after Caen was liberated, in Troarn. I came across a trench full of Germans. They stood up and put out their hands in surrender. I thought: "This is great. We're in business." Suddenly, they all disappeared in the trench. Someone shouted: "Look out!" I dived to the ground. The Germans had thrown a stick grenade at us. I was hit in the leg. And then they popped up again, hands in the air. I felt I was entitled to mow the whole lot down, but I could not really do it, so I rounded them up and took them prisoner instead.
The good thing about this affair was that I was evacuated to England and rested in a hospital in Surrey. My fiancee was an air force nurse posted in Reading, so she was able to come and visit me. A hospital ward is not the most romantic place, but we decided to have our wedding during my sick leave.
We were on the big landing craft that held more than a company, and it had two ramps down the side. We also had to carry bicycles which would carry 60lbs of equipment. When we landed there was a high swell on the tide, and I remember when I was getting ready to come off the boat, I put a pair of socks into my mess tin so that my feet would be dry whenever we first got the chance to change. Any landings we did in training we only got our feet wet but in this landing we were soaked from head to foot. The swell was so bad it was almost over the top of us. My head was soaking at the time.
We got up the beach which had already been opened by the engineers and the commandos that went in in front of us. This meant that the mines were cleared. We went through that area and up a wee side street onto our bikes and we went to a place that they named the Orchard. There we had the rollcall to see that all was correct.
We then moved on from there to a farm area and we dug in for the night. We were about 4 or 5 miles in then. Our beachhead was more or less secure. Then we were briefed for our first attack which was to take place on 7 June.
|Richard Keegan and Jimmy Pedlaw|
Later we rode our bikes for a few miles to another farm and left our bikes next to a water tower.
I was a platoon runner and operator and the wireless was soaked and I said to my Officer: “This wireless is useless”. He told me to dump it with my bike so I left it there. I never saw the bike or the wireless again.
We went on from there on foot and German fighters came over and machine-gunned us as we walked along the road. We were very fortunate - whenever they were shooting, they machine-gunned up the middle of the road and we were able to lie into the ditches quite safe.
Our company - D company- was lead company for the attack on Cambes Wood. We had to cross a cornfield about 1600 yards across open ground, there was a certain amount of shelling but not a whole lot.
There was a 10' high wall around Cambes Wood and there wasn't a hole in that wall except for a hole in the corner and we had to go through that hole in the corner. One half of the company went to the left and the other half straight on. We'd just got in and we could see personnel mines hung up in the trees and mines on the ground. Machine gun fire opened up on us from the left and we were pinned down. The company commander, Major Aldworth, was up leading the men to the left and was killed.
My platoon officer told me to tell Captain Montgomery, who was leading the other two platoons, that the company commander was dead and that we were pinned down and we were going to pull out. So I crawled the whole way back through the wood and up the other side to where the Captain was and told him. He agreed and I went back and told the platoon officer.
We had to leave the wounded behind because the trees were that close together that you would only have killed them trying to drag them through so the idea was to leave them there and let the Germans look after them.
We moved out and pulled back to a place called Anisy and we dug in there for the night. The next day on the 8th patrols were sent out and then on the 9th Stanley's Company, A Company, they were the lead Company and we were in reserve. When Stanley's Company got in to the wood they found the company commander dead and all of the men that were wounded shot in the head.
We left them there to be treated by the Germans but the Germans done it the dirty way.
That put our backs up, we had officers that we would have went through a brick wall for, all good men, and they told us that in no way do we do what they did. If you found any Germans like that you didn't do it.
In that second attack we came under heavy shelling from the Germans and about 150 yards from the edge of the wood an 88 dropped close to me injuring my side and that was my war finished. There was heavy shelling that day and when I got hit I was glad that it hadn't been a bigger one.
I made my way back through the corn field and came across two stretcher bearers from our unit who had both been shot in the knee by machine gun or sniper fire. We did first aid on each other and eventually were moved back to our own medical post and I was moved back then down to the beach into a big tent tand then shipped back to England.
I went to a Canadian hospital in the South of England and then got moved up to the hospital in Wakefield and I was there for about 6 weeks.
Then I was shipped out to Dewsbury in Yorkshire and when I was there I asked the nurse for an elastic bandage for my foot. She said "Let me see it" and I showed it to her and she said she would have to show it to the doctor. The doctor came along and looked at it and said "That's terrible looking, the swelling and that, how do you get your boot on?" and I said I just squeeze it in. It was full of fluid and they had to take me down to theatre to drain it.
I was then shifted to the 7th Battalion, that was our holding Battalion, and when I was there I used to get physiotherapy and they said I had broken the bones in my foot and ruptured ligaments. I saw the medical officers and said I wanted to go back to the 2nd Battalion and they said that I wouldn't last 5 minutes in the infantry so that was it.
I was downgraded and posted to the Royal Corps of Signals at the 50th Division Headquarters and I used to tow their vehicles back and get them repaired if necessary.
I'm sorry I never got back to the action again and don't know whether I would have come out of it or not but I would have liked to have gone back again.
In 1946 I was due for demob and they wanted me to stay in the army but I decided to become a civilian again.
Charles Stephenson, DoB 25/11/1919 Corporal and Medic in the Royal Ulster Rifles
After landing on D Day, we advanced to the village of Cambes, we gathered at the top of a cornfield leading down perhaps four hundred yards to woods on the edge of the village.
B Company, about a hundred men, were sent to attack German positions in the wood, but they were cut down and retreated to the ridge of the slope. We waited about thirty six hours until the next asssault, this time with a full batallion.
During the attack one of our Bren Gun carriers was hit with a 75mm shell, a bren gun carrier was like a small tank and usually had a crew of four. The carrier was ripped apart, Corporal Boyd hanging out of the turrert with the driver, Private Hilde, blown clear.
I called a stretcher bearer and we ran out to attend the wounded, first going to Boyd, he was still alive but one leg was was trapped in the carrier, it was completely crushed and only hanging on by sinews and flesh, I cut through the leg with a pair of scissors. I appled a tourniquet and went to treat Hilde. All the time time we were being peppered with machine gun fire, how we didn’t get hit , I don’t know. Hilde was in agony with terrible injuries to both his left arm and right leg.
“Shoot me, I can’t take it“ he was screaming.
I told him to stop moaning, and that I’d patch him up up and have him back in no time.
A Canadian tank came by and we loaded them up and got them back to RAP (Regimental Aid Post).
About four years later I was at a reuniuon at the Duke of York Barracks in Chelsea. Hilde was standing at the bar, minus leg, but never the less enjoying a beer.
After eventually taking Caen we moved on and reached Troan. Again meeting stiff resistance, we dug in.
It started raining and didn’t stop for three days, but at least the shelling stopped, it gave me a chance to read the Lillliput, a magazine we used to get. Private Woolf and I were in a two man trench, about six feet long, three feet deep, two feet wide, the Germans were already dug in, facing us, about fifty yards away.
I can’t for the life of me think why Woolf was there, he was an Irishman from Dublin and had volunteered for service, he was married with seven children and at 38 too old for front line duty, most of us were in our mid twenties or younger.
Woolf seemed a bit edgy that day, the battle at Cambes Wood had shaken him up badly, he had given up smoking years ago and used to give away his rations, but out of the blue asked me for a cigarette.
“Do you think it will always be like this Steve?” Woolf asked
“ No we’ll push on and win, it’ll be over in a few months” I said and went back to reading my Lilliput magazine.
I was sitting at the right of the trench, the end I had dug, Woolf to the left. The trench had been steadily filling up with water making things even more uncomfortable. Gradually the rain started easing and the shelling started again, a call went up for wounded and I went back to RAP to help. I had been gone about thirty minutes and on my return found Woolf sitting at my end of the trench which was dry.
“Don’t worry Steve I’ve dug a soak away to drain the water away, I’ve put a ration box over the sump hole you can sit on that, it’s dry”
Having now swopped ends we sat tight praying that the shelling would stop.
Then darkness, my arms pinned to my side, a mortar had landed directly in our trench. I had the presence of mind not to struggle as a pocket of air had formed over the lip of my helmet, I didn’t want to disturb the earth. I had enough air left for a few minutes.
Very soon I heard voices and sticks were being poked in the earth, one of which hit my helmet, “Corporal Stephenson and Woolf are here” I heard.
As they were digging me out I could feel pain in my right leg, Woolf was lying across me, they lifted him from on top of me, I could see he was dead, he must have taken the full force of the blast, being in my end of the trench.
I was stretchered back to RAP, my right tibia smashed. Eventually I was taken back to the coast and boarded a hospital ship back to England.
Lance Corporal E.B. Bunston (7021050)
|Brandon Bunston on left|
Edward Brandon Bunston was a Welshman who was working in London prior to war starting but he had become unhappy with the company he was employed by and although a reserved occupation at the time he decided to enlist into the army at the age of 19 in 1941.
The nearest recruiting branch was Finsbury Park The London Irish Rifles and so the was the beginning of his journey into The Royal Ulster Rifles.
His father had served in the 9th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers in the Great War as a stretcher bearer and Brandon opted to follow in is footsteps in 2 RUR.
Attached to C Company, he acted as a stretcher bearer on D-Day and the subsequent battles in Northern Europe, during which time he was mentioned in Despatches for distinguished service and received a Commendation Card.
Captain Leonard Gordon McDowell
Died 9 June 1944, Cambes Wood, Caen, Normandy, France
Written by Alec Powell & extracted from his web pages about the Middlesex Regiment
The 9th June started sadly for the Battalion. In the early hours of the morning, Lieutenant Pearson, of No. 8 Platoon, was mistaken for a German by a patrol of the Warwicks and seriously wounded by Sten gun fire.
The morning was fairly quiet until noon, when Nos. 12 and 13 Mortar Platoons of "D" Company and two platoons of "C" were ordered to carry out a harassing shoot against the enemy strong-point at Lebisey, which was holding up the advance on Caen. The Germans reacted strongly and put down a heavy artillery concentration, in the course of which Major Brereton was badly wounded in the stomach and Lieutenant Shirley and three other ranks of "D" Company less severely wounded.
During the afternoon the Royal Ulster Rifles, of 9th Infantry Brigade, made an attack on Cambes Wood, supported by "B" Company and Nos. 10 and 11 Mortar Platoons. The opening barrage included both mortar and machine-gun fire, the mortars firing on the wood from Cazelle and Nos. 4 and 6 Machine-Gun Platoons of "B" Company raking the wood from the left flank with fire at a range of no more than 400 yards. As soon as they opened up they were heavily engaged by enemy artillery, losing three men wounded.
The R.U.R. advanced frontally on the wood from Anisy, down a long, open, forward slope and under very heavy fire from enemy tanks at La Bijude. As the infantry reached the edge of the wood, the remaining platoon (No. 5) of "B" Com-pany raced down the road from Anisy on a consolidation task, but at the last minute their carriers were held up by the infantry.
For a few moments they were brought to a standstill, giving the enemy tank gunners a stationary target. The leading carrier was hit, fortunately without causing any casualties to the crew, but the others managed to get into the corner of the wood at Cambes, where the guns were quickly mounted to form a defensive screen.
The Commanding Officer, coming up on the pillion of a motor-cycle to the wood for a conference with the brigadier, had his cycle hit by anti-tank fire and had to crawl and run the last hundred yards, he and his driver, Sergeant Davis, both running the gauntlet of a very persistent sniper on the exposed flank.
Cambes Wood was not a healthy place for the issue of further orders, for the enemy, having themselves withdrawn, directed a heavy mortar fire on the whole area. One bomb landed on Major Passy’s carrier, killing him, Corporal Green, his driver operator, Lance-Corporal Rees, and Private Baker. C.S.M. Bell, who had accompanied Major Passy, was mortally wounded a few minutes later by another. Nor was that the full tale of the losses at Cambes, for Captain McDowell, second-in-command of "B" Company. came up to the wood as soon as he heard that Major Passy had been killed and was himself killed immediately on arrival.
The enemy fire directed on to the wood at Cambers became fiercer as the evening wore on. Movement became almost impossible and the Commanding Officer was pinned down near No. 5 Platoon. Lance-Sergeant Davis, his dispatch rider, distinguished himself during the evening by the complete dis-regard of danger with which he ran messages up and down the wood and tended the wounded under heavy fire. The bar to the M.M., which he won that day, was richly deserved. Captain H. B. Neve, the mortar O.P. officer, also won the M.C. for his gallantry on this occasion. While directing the fire of two mortar platoons, he had to sit out in the open as his wireless remote control gear had been hit by shrapnel, and the coolness and efficiency with which he directed the fire with shells and bombs exploding all round him was beyond praises.
At last light, the K.O.S.B. reached Cambes to reinforce the Royal Ulster Rifles. With their arrival the German fire gradually died down and the area was finally consolidated and firmly held.
The battle of Cambes Wood brought to an end the first of the Division’s hard actions in the beach-head. Four days of fairly heavy fighting had proved costly in casualties, but it had also proved to the Battalion that it could more than hold its own against anything the enemy could bring against it. Although everyone realized that there was still a very long way to go and that many more hard battles would have to be fought before the end could come, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that the end could only be a complete and annihilating victory.