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Old 25-07-04, 20:48
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John McGillivray John McGillivray is offline
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Default North Nova Scotia Highlanders History

Good day all,

I’ve borrowed a copy of Will Bird’s book “No Retreating Footsteps, The Story of the North Nova Scotia Highlanders”. Here is an excerpt which details the advance of NNSH on the morning of 7th June and the capture of Buron.

“On the morning of June 7th Sergeant Don Baillie and some of his men went to look for the carriers left back of a building. The carriers were found where they had been left, undamaged, and it was apparent that the Enemy had not seen them during his hasty visit. Six dead Germans sprawled in the field, one with a motor cycle, showed the carrier men's ability with their weapons. The dead German cycle rider had a fine pistol that Sgt. Don Baillie gave to his brother, Sgt. Bill Baillie, who carried it throughout the war. At 0645 hours Brigade sent word that the advance was to be continued as soon as the battalion was ready, and at 0740 hours the North Novas moved off in the same order used the previous day, changing the axis of advance approximately twenty-five degrees to go through Villons-les-Buissons along the main road to Carpiquet.

“Snipers were active in distant areas. Occasional bullets zipped overhead but the vanguard met only slight opposition for a time. The country was gently rolling plain with occasional clumps of trees, farm hedges and hay stacks. The only feature was the small villages where the farmers lived in groups of small houses, barns and outbuildings surrounding a church, some shops and estaminets. The inevitable horse pond and a few fruit trees plus stretches of stone wall completed each community.

“Villons-les-Buissons was cleared without difficulty. A Company moved around the right of the village and B Company went around the left. The rest of the unit proceeded along the axis. Soon the advance guard came under fire from Les Buissons. Just to the right of the village an enemy 88 opened fire on the tanks, and a recce tank was knocked out. Its crew escaped and came back with two prisoners. Major Learment ordered Sgt. Crosson, in charge of the Mortar Section, to fire twelve rounds into the area of the 88. Captain C. F. Eraser, commanding C Company, and Captain E. S. Gray, commanding the Carrier Platoon, made a dash around to the right and cleared back through the village. This was a pincer movement with the infantry cooperating and the 88 was captured quickly, with several prisoners. Minutes later a 16-barreled German mortar was knocked out by the vanguard, as well as three half-tracks. All was going well and everyone was in high spirits. By 0930 hours the village had been cleared and Command Post moved up to that point. Then the vanguard moved on toward Buron, a larger village that had a large chateau at right centre, and a low stone wall running left from the road that passed through and on to Authie.

“Meanwhile A Company had had some trouble on the right of Les Buissons where they cleared a small wood of snipers and machine guns. Major Rhodenizer was making sure of his ground as he went along and he found slit trenches dug and a self-propelled gun. A German walked from the bushes and surrendered as the Novas were investigating the position. He led them to a courtyard where four wounded Germans were lying. The North Nova stretcher bearers bandaged them as best they could and as they finished their work two more of the enemy emerged from shrubbery and surrendered. This made Major Rhodenizer more careful than ever and soon more of the enemy were flushed from hiding places and captured. Then A Company moved on, noting that the rest of the battalion were some distance ahead.

“B Company, on the left, riding Sherman tanks, came under heavy fire from St. Contest. This village was on slightly higher ground, giving good observation to the enemy, and was no more than a thousand yards away from Buron, lying almost parallel with it. It was then quite evident that the 3rd British Division on the left had been unable to keep up according to plan but everyone felt it was but a matter of time before the attack on St Contest would begin. It did look, though, as if the North Novas were far in front with no force visible to support them on either flank. The Seventh Brigade was keeping pace but was so far over on the right that none of its units could be seen.

“The fire from St. Contest became so hot that the tanks stopped and the company had to dismount and scatter for cover. Major J. W. Douglas, commanding B Company, had discovered that one section of Lt. Grieve's platoon had been left behind, and he could only hope that it would catch up with the company later in the day. Lt. Fraser Campbell, commanding the second platoon in B Company, had kept his men together but the other two platoons scattered, and Major Douglas had difficulty in rounding them up again and getting them on tanks when the shelling abated. It was the first heavy shelling the company had experienced, and, to add to his difficulties, the tanks were anxious to get at grips with the enemy. Finally, the men were back on the tanks and the advance continued. The heavy fire was immediately resumed and this time several casualties resulted.

“Captain Clarke, second-in-command of B Company, had the dubious honor of being the first officer of the Novas to be wounded. He was hit by shrapnel while in his vehicle talking on the set to Lt-Col. Petch and he had to be evacuated at once. All the company had scattered from the tanks again and Major Douglas, assisted by Lt. Campbell, began once more to collect the men. Some of them had taken, refuge in a large anti-tank ditch that extended across the way. Lt Brown had a difficult time locating the sections of his platoon. Lt. Grieve took over as second-in-command of B Company and Sgt. S. S. Hughes took charge of Twelve Platoon. He soon had a number of the men on the move toward Buron while Lt. Campbell and his platoon went along with Major Douglas and reached Buron on foot. The shelling and mortaring from St. Contest had continued and there was no artillery to offer reply except the self-propelled anti-tank guns which concentrated their fire on the church steeple of St. Contest and scored a direct hit. More casualties occurred and B Company men were glad to reach the shelter of the stone wall at Buron. The Sherbrooke tanks had sighted enemy tanks and made off to engage them. Lt. Campbell's platoon was ranged along the wall, then B Company headquarters and Sgt. Hughes with his platoon. Lt. Brown had not arrived but Sgt Bill Baillie was doing great work in rounding up stragglers and making sure that casualties were sent to the rear. Sgt Hughes handled his men well and his section leaders were L/Sgt P. Whelan, Cpl. V. Frizzell and Cpl. Whitehead. This platoon had caught the heaviest of the shelling and had been the most scattered.

“The vanguard had moved on to Buron as soon as Les Buissons was cleared. At the edge of the road going into the village another enemy 88 was operating, but it was demolished by fire from a 75 tank gun and the crew captured. Meanwhile Lt.-Col. Petch and Lt. Cunningham, the Intelligence Officer, had been surprised by hidden snipers at Les Buissons and had had to fight a small battle of their own. Cunningham, using Driver Mac-Neill's Bren gun, killed four of the enemy.

“Lt. Herb Langley had the leading platoon of the vanguard. Lt. Jack Veness had the second, and Lt. Graves the third. Buron seemed alive with snipers and machine guns and it took some time to get a foothold in the place. There were too many gardens and alleys and crooks and crannies to make easy going, and Lt. Veness rested his platoon on the right of the road, with the rest of the company on the left. A machine gun was shooting down the middle of the main street and every head had to be kept down. Snipers were popping away from house windows and all sorts of places, while enemy artillery had begun to range on the village.

“Lt.-Col. Petch drove up with Lt. Cunningham to examine the situation and as the Commanding Officer stood up to jump from the carrier, a shell exploded close by, knocking him to the ground. He was unhurt, however, and carried on, talking with Major Learment. He gave orders to feel out the strength of the enemy and small patrols began probing. Lt. Langley sent some men out on the left flank and they found a large self-propelled anti-tank gun not fifty yards away, with a machine gun mounted alongside to protect the crew from infantry attack. The German crew was stunned by the sudden appearance of the North Novas and before they could organize, Langley's men had tossed grenades among them, then rushed in with Stens and bayonets. The affair was over very quickly and, encouraged by results, the patrols began to be more aggressive, killing or capturing every German they could find. Soon the town seemed cleared. A flight of a dozen enemy fighter planes flew low over the position but did nothing hostile. Spitfires appeared from out of the blue and a dog fight was on. One British plane burst into flames, and crashed a few hundred yards away. The pilot had bailed out and he landed shortly after very near his machine. Lt. Veness shouted and waved to him and a German plane roared low to take shots at the North Nova officer.

“A German vehicle was found in the town and the searching that was going on produced many prisoners. They were hiding in cellars, in attics, everywhere, and the few civilians who could be seen were too scared to assist in any way. Orders had been, however, not to delay too long, but to leave the heavy mopping-up to others, so the vanguard moved on southward along the road to Authie, leaving D Company to finish cleaning the enemy from Buron.”

Let me know if you want to see more.

John
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Old 26-07-04, 04:54
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John McGillivray John McGillivray is offline
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Default Clearing Buron and Advance to Authie

A recce troop going toward Authie got as far as the crossroads and then were fired on by enemy in Authie. They returned to Buron and a shelling and mortaring of the town began, increasing in intensity as the first elements of D Company reached it More enemy were captured in an air raid shelter on the northern edge of the town, and as D Company entered in strength some firing came from the large chateau in the centre of the place. Another air raid shelter was found and in it were two German officers, one of them wounded. Sgt. "Moose" Schurman and Pte. Eddie Mack, of the Carriers, had found the two men. Schurman asked the officers questions but was rewarded by a blank stare. Schurman then indicated by signs that he wanted the unwounded officer to help his mate out of the shelter. The German haughtily refused. Schurman promptly urged him with an inch of bayonet in a fleshy part of the anatomy and the German called him all the vile names he could think of — in good English! Schurman soon cowed him, and when he had been booted outside he was searched and found to have a trace showing enemy dispositions in the area. The paper was at once sent back to Brigade. A final clearing of the town, east to west, was ordered to round up any remaining snipers, but later events showed the work was not completed. Five Sherman tanks had now arrived in Buron.

A patrol of three carriers under command of Sgt. A. G. Peppard went to Authie. It reached the outskirts and reported on its return that small arms and automatic fire had come from an orchard on the far side of the village. Those engaged in cleaning up Buron suddenly came upon an enemy lorry which had just driven in from the south. It was promptly shot up and found to contain such technical equipment as range finders and binoculars. The lot was sent back to Brigade headquarters. Three Germans were seen digging in a garden. One was shot and the other two surrendered.

More Sherman tanks arrived, and B Company now passed through Buron, excepting Lt. Brown's platoon, which had not arrived. Major Douglas got his men through to the orchard on the Authie side of the village. The foremost tanks went on to the crossroads and made ready to deploy to engage targets in Authie. C Company, under Captain C. F. Fraser, was now under way again and two platoons mounted on two sections of carriers, rode on to Authie, meeting only light fire at the outskirts.

When the shooting became close the carriers stopped, and the two platoons quickly dismounted, with Lt. Langley taking his men to the right and Lt. Veness taking his to the left It was discovered that the third section of carriers with Lt. Bob Graves' platoon had somehow missed the order to advance, and were still waiting on the road to Buron. A carrier was sent back to fetch them as the other platoons worked their way into Authie on foot. Captain E. S. Gray now ordered one carrier section to outflank Authie on the left and join up with C Company as they emerged from the south end of the town, which was largely contained north and south along the main road. The second carrier section was sent along the same road to make a recce as far as Franqueville. Both sections came under light mortar fire at the southeast corner of Authie and returned to their former position at the northeast corner. The third section of carriers arrived, with Graves' platoon following on foot, and it too, was ordered to make a recce to Franqueville. But it was turned back by the mortar fire after making some distance.

In the meantime the two leading platoons of C Company had gone into action. They had unloaded some fifty yards from the first houses and Captain Gray shouted at them: "Start clearing up. I'll call up some tanks and support you on the left flank." The men started on a run for the first buildings.

Lt. Veness and Cpl. Maclntyre of his platoon were first at a wall and they saw many of the enemy running away. Maclntyre, ahead, had a Sten gun, but it jammed and the Germans vanished in safety around a corner. As soon as all the platoon were in position Cpl. Maclntyre took a section and advanced on the right. Cpl. Sterling Bell had another section on the left, and Cpl. O'Leary had a third section about fifty yards behind in reserve. Every attention was given to keeping pace with Lt. Langley's platoon which was advancing through yards and alleys on the right. Muffled sounds came from an open cellar door and Lt. Veness cautiously poked his head around to look in, keeping his pistol ready. He found the place jammed with French civilians who were extremely glad to see Canadians. They warned Veness that many Germans were in buildings just ahead.

The platoon went on. Lt. Veness went with Cpl. Bell and as they rounded the next building they came upon two Germans standing by a wall. One ducked quickly, but the other started shooting with a rifle. He was about fifteen yards away and he fired three shots, missing entirely, as Veness emptied his pistol at him. The German fell and never moved. Bell had been changing magazines on his Sten and had not been able to shoot. Two of Bell's men had thrown grenades and the first German had been a victim, too.

By this time the platoon could see the Sherbrooke tanks swinging along the left of the village and picking off any of the enemy who were running to escape the advancing platoons. Lt. Langley and his men were routing all before them and the tanks were having a field day, potting groups of the enemy in all directions. No real resistance was offered either platoon after the initial entry into Authie and soon they were astride the road at the southern outskirts. It was now about 1330 hours and everyone rested and ate some rations. As they waited, Lt. Graves arrived and only a few of his men were with him. He reported the shelling that had been heavy on B Company and others behind and told how his platoon had been caught in it. Strangely, up to that time, very few shells had fallen on Authie.

But now they came. The tanks surviving had to hunt cover. All the carriers retired to cover by a hedge, where more men of Graves' platoon were pinned down. Then the fire became hotter and the carriers, except Captain Gray's, returned to Buron. Captain Gray remained to find out what was happening, and Captain Fraser at once began to get C Company established in defensive positions. Lt.-Col. Petch, with his Command Post at the road junction back of Buron, had tried to get cruiser fire on enemy guns at St. Contest and Gruchie, but communications had failed. No artillery fire could be had as the artillery had been delayed and were not in range of the position. There was no relief on the flanks as the 7th Brigade units on the right, though they reach the Caen-Bayeux highway before dark, were at such a distance that no contact was made with them, while the British 3rd Division on the left was some distance back and didn't get into Galmanche, far back of St. Contest, until a week later. Some German tanks were spotted and C Company dug in on the south side of Authie. They did not know it then, but they had been spotted by a Kurt Meyer force, a Regimental Battle Group from the 12th S. S. Panzer Division, including a battalion of Mark IV Tanks. Meyer was attempting to drive to the coast between the 3rd Canadian Division and the 3rd British Division, but was diverted by running into the Novas at Authie — so much so that he never got his original plan under way.

The platoon of Cameron machine gunners arrived and it was expected that the Pioneers and others would soon make their way through Buron and arrive on the scene. No one was worrying too much; none of those dug in at Authie. They still kept watching the flanks for signs of the British or the 7th Brigade, but everyone felt it was simply a matter of an hour or so before they would be seen.

In the meantime A Company had arrived at Buron from the right side and found that C Company had already passed through. Some prisoners were picked — each succeeding Nova group seemed to find more skulking Jerries in Buron — and four German wounded were found by a wall. On orders from BHQ, Major Rhodenizer then took up a defensive position to the right of the village, a position from which Gruchy was in plain view on the right, and Authie straight ahead. The Intelligence Officer reported that a Panzer Division was moving up to counter-attack and would be a day earlier than had been previously expected. A Company waited in the position for an hour and then was ordered forward to Authie to take up a firm position on the right and so support the vanguard.

As A Company rode forward on the tanks, it came under heavy fire from St. Contest, and Lt. Lou Sutherland with one platoon was carried into Authie, before orders to stop could reach him. The rest of A Company dismounted .from the tanks, which turned back for cover, and began to dig in around a rectangular hedge row on the right of the road, the rear of the company position being just ahead of a wagon road leading over to Grouchy. Major Rhodenizer sent a runner to order Sutherland's platoon back to A Company's area and got busy preparing as good a defensive position as possible. He heard on his wireless that B Company was in trouble, and heard orders for Major Douglas to move his company up and dig in nearby, on the left side of the road. Soon after Major Douglas arrived, walking, to recce a position for his company. Then he started back to get it. Just then word came that the vanguard was being heavily attacked by infantry and tanks, and Major Rhodenizer made ready for an attack on his position. Lt G. A. P. Smith had his platoon on the right of A Company's area, and Lt. J. L. Fairweather was to the left with the other platoon.

Lt. Sutherland, meanwhile, not knowing about the order to stop, dismounted from his tank at the first buildings in Authie and led his platoon forward on foot. Shortly after devastating fire of 88's knocked out the tanks his men had been on. Sutherland then placed his men along the Authie-Cussy road and lent support to the defence of the village. Captain E. S. Gray, who stayed until then observing proceedings, returned to Buron in his carrier and reported there to Major Learment and Lt.-Col. Petch. Captain Fraser reported on his set to Learment that a number of German tanks were closing in on his position. Lt.-Col. Petch ordered Learment to dig in with what men he had, company headquarters and some from Graves' platoon, at the crossroads about 500 yards north of Authie, to conceal his position as much as possible and await the outcome of the tank battle which seemed to be developing.

In the meantime Major Douglas had moved his men behind Captain Gray's carriers, advancing toward Authie with Lt Campbell and his platoon, with some men from Grieve's platoon and Sgt. Bill Baillie with Lt. Brown's platoon except a section leader and two other ranks. Four tanks were going along at the time and B Company kept up with them. Then one tank was knocked out by fire from an 88 based near St. Contest and the other three veered across to the cover of a hedge. The shelling became heavier. Sgt. Baillie took half the men and moved up one side of the road and Lt. Campbell had the rest on the other side. They worked along carefully, crawling most of the time though Major Douglas walked up the centre of the road, but had three more casualties in one hundred yards. They finally reached a hedge near Authie but it offered no defence whatever, and Major Douglas could not see anything that could be used as coyer for his men. The shelling was becoming heavier every minute and there were further casualties. Sgt. Crosson, with his Mortar Section, had been held back by congested traffic after doing his shooting at Les Buissons. He had tried to get up with the two carriers of the Cameron Highlanders but they were too far in advance and he finally made his way through Buron and; went along up the road with B Company and had his carrier at last just outside the first Authie buildings. Now the shelling was at its hottest and Crosson and his men took cover in a ditch. A near burst killed the carrier driver, Foster Daries, and wounded Pte. Tommy Mont in the arm severely. Sgt. Crosson bandaged Mont as best he could, hailed a walking wounded case and told him to help Mont back to Buron. C.S.M. Mackey, of C Company, came along and said it would be better to fall back as the other carriers had returned to Buron, and it would be impossible to go on. So Crosson got his section and went back with Mackey.

Major Douglas decided it would be best to withdraw to a better position, so he moved his men back, taking the wounded along. A carrier going back with several wounded reported that orders were to consolidate at Buron, so Major Douglas tried to check the information. He placed his men in the orchard in front of Buron with Lts. Campbell and Grieve and went to ask Lt.-Col. Petch about the situation. He was told to take B Company up on the left of the road and to dig in, in line with A Company, and as firmly as possible. Major Douglas went up at once and made another recce of the position, which he discussed with Major Rhodenizer, then returned to get his company. But Major Douglas' luck had come to an end. He had seemed to bear a charmed life as he twice gathered his company under shellfire. He had led it up to Authie and back again, losing many but making sure none were left behind, and now he was wounded. His men went to ground in the orchard and Lt. Grieves took over temporarily. B Company up to that time had endured the heaviest shelling and suffered the most casualties.

Last edited by John McGillivray; 27-07-04 at 00:53.
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Old 26-07-04, 06:49
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Very interesting John, Will Bird's history of the NNSH is on my list to read and I hope to get to it soon.
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Old 27-07-04, 01:52
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Default The Battle for Authie

The shelling had become heavier in Authie. The village was spread along each side of the road running north and south and the orchard was to the left of the southern end. It was there that C Company men were dug in at the left hand corner. Three knocked-out Sherbrooke tanks were along the left of the fruit trees. Lt. Sutherland had his platoon between the orchard and the road, and tough Bill Gammon was his sergeant. There were grain fields all around, especially to the north and right of the village. A small wood was near the right entrance. Ahead, the fields seemed to dip and blend with the sky, this for the reason that the land fell away gently beyond Franqueville so that Carpiquet was not visible at all and the approaching German forces had ample cover from observation until they topped the rise a few hundred yards away. Some distance back toward Buron was a thick hedge, and A Company was dug in along it. Captain Fraser, feeling that the fight to come would be a hard one, salvaged the machine guns from the knocked-out tanks and placed them in position in the orchard. These Brownings were set up in a hedge that surrounded the orchard and two of the tank men helped in getting them there. The Sherbrooke men in the area were anxious to do their bit and took places beside men of C Company. Captain Fraser told Lts. Veness and Langley that things did not look too good and they must be prepared to hold on for some time.

Then the shells began to scream over in salvos, but mostly they landed among the buildings of Authie. Some civilians came running to the C Company trenches, making motions and talking rapidly in French. Lt. Veness thought that some of their friends had been wounded and they wanted help. Captain Fraser told Veness to go back in the town and examine a Cameron's carrier there that was apparently knocked out. If it were in running order he was to fetch it to the orchard, and while returning he was to look in on the French people and see what could be done for them. He was to take a stretcher bearer with him.

Lt. Veness took the stretcher bearer and started out. Lt. Graves went along with him to see if he could locate any more men of his platoon. They walked down the main street and soon were led by the French civilians into a courtyard and then to a shed at the back. Eight people were there, three of them lying on the floor wrapped in blankets. Two had arm and shoulder wounds. A six-year-old girl had an abdominal wound. All were in a state of hysteria. The little girl was given a shot of morphine and the French were advised to move everyone into cellars. One old Frenchman followed the Nova officers into the street, begging to know whether or not the Germans would be back.

When the three North Novas reached the north end of the town they found fifteen men sheltered in a small gravel pit, all wounded, some quite badly, and some about to die. They said that some of the infantry had started up on carriers but the shelling had been so bad they had to turn back. The men were Sherbrooke Fusiliers and Cameron Highlanders. Lt. Veness told the stretcher bearer to stay with them and do what he could for them. Then he located the Cameron's carrier. It was still intact with a good Vicker's gun mounted on top in perfect order. An officer and two men of the Camerons were lying beside the carrier, dead.

Lt. Veness got into the carrier and drove back through what was now a regular deluge of shell fire. He reached the orchard safely and the carrier was placed in position with a good field of fire, along the orchard hedge. Captain Fraser was trying to get a message through to the battalion on one of the tank sets. The company 18 set had been knocked out by shrapnel. Fraser finally succeeded in getting through to Sherbrooke Fusiliers HQ to Brigade HQ, and back to Lt-Col. Petch. He was told to hang on and that reinforcements would be sent him. So everyone in the orchard made their positions as ready as possible. The extra Brownings and Vickers were mounted by the hedge on the side away from town, a shoulder-high hedge that gave concealment. Lt. Veness had his platoon across the end toward the enemy and half the other side. Lt. Langley had his platoon along the rest of the side. There was a field of grass and bushes between the A Company platoon under Lt. Sutherland, and the main street, and there were two houses in the field.

As Lt. Veness was watching through his binoculars he saw a number of men moving toward the hedge in single file, in a direction that made him think they might be some of Lt. Graves' missing section or the reinforcements that were to come. He reported to Captain Fraser, telling him what he thought and then went through the hedge to wave them in. They paid him no attention and suddenly he realized they were Germans and there were lots of them. They had taken every advantage of the folds in the ground and the dip toward Carpiquet, getting quite near before being seen. They fired at Veness and he dodged back to cover.

The alarm was given and everyone went into action. There was one good Sherbrooke tank in the orchard and the crew scrambled into it and began firing its 17-pounder. Then a large section of the approaching enemy force detached from the main body and began moving in deployed formation. Soon it was seen there were Germans everywhere. They were in great numbers, hundreds and hundreds of them. Then a terrific artillery barrage fell on the orchard, and all was sound and fury and flying lead and steel.

Major Learment had finally dug in just north of Buron. It was known that the men in Authie were being attacked and Learment discussed with Lt.-Col. Petch the question of trying to rescue them; and A Company at the hedge, as no artillery support could be had, the British 3rd Division had not got up on the left and there was no sign of the 7th Brigade on the right. It was thought that a strong force on carriers should go up to Authie. So B Company and those with Major Learment were loaded, but just as they started a new and more heavy shelling began, and there was no hope of a carrier being able to reach Authie. So Lt.-Col. Petch instructed Learment to hold his prepared position just back of Buron, and to have with him all the men he could gather. This was done, and the carriers were sent back to Villons-les-Buissons where BHQ was situated. The men with Learment dug in just to the right of the entrance to Buron, using many old German slit trenches there, and Major Learment himself had his position quite near the road. C.S.M. Mackey was dug in just behind him. Brens and grenades were placed in readiness and then the little force sat and huddled under continuous shell fire, wondering when any Canadian artillery would arrive and do something to help the situation. Both flanks of the Novas were badly exposed. The battalion was up there alone and fighting without the support of artillery while the enemy had every advantage, knowing the area thoroughly and having unlimited fire power.

A tank battle was developing between Buron and Gruchy. The shelling was hotter. Everyone realized the enemy was making the first organized counter-attack and that it was supported by heavy armor.

B Company had had a hard time. When Lt.-Col. Petch saw that Major J. W. Douglas was wounded he ordered Captain A. J. Wilson, commanding Support Company, up to take command of B Company and to get it into a position along the left of the Authie road in line with A Company. Captain Wilson went up over the ground Major Douglas had explored, saw its lack of vantage and crossed over to talk with Major Rhodenizer just as Major Douglas had done. At that time A Company seemed fairly secure. The men were well dug in by the hedge and they did not realize that an enemy attack on their position was even then forming up west of Gruchy. Captain Wilson made a brief recce, decided on a spot where B Company would dig in and returned to Buron to find many of his men mounted on carriers and ready to make a dash up to Authie. This was called off as the shelling became hotter and soon it was seen that he could not take his men forward under such a sustained barrage. Then the attack on A Company began and Wilson decided to take his men back of Buron. He left Lt. Fraser Campbell and his platoon to help hold far over on the right of the road into Buron and took others, with Lts. Brown and Grieve, back to the anti-tank ditch. There he was joined by some Cameron Highlanders and he made ready to fight to the finish. Sgt. S. S. Hughes and most of his men were there, and Sgt. Crosson brought his Mortar Section to the big ditch. Sgt. Bill Baillie had been left with most of Lt. Brown's platoon to dig in near Buron, but he felt it a mistake to try and hold where there was no field of fire and, seeing enemy armor entering the village, he withdrew to the antitank ditch and joined Wilson's force. There he fought until the ammunition of his men had been expended, when he got most of the survivors on carriers while he and Cpl. May walked back, using the few rounds left in their Brens for covering fire. Pte. Chas. T. Porter had been with Baillie and May throughout the action.

Major Cy Kennedy had brought D Company up to Buron as reserve. The men rode in on tanks, and saw first the German gun that had been captured. Major Kennedy was standing in his carrier talking with Cpl. Kelly Grant of the Intelligence Section, who had just brought him two prisoners, when a sniper shot at him from an upper window of a nearby house. The tanks at once opened fire on the building, using HE, and the explosions in the street were terrific. Cpl. Grant and Pte. Harold Doucette, Intelligence Section men attached to D Company, dove to cover in the ditches and escaped injury. Then a big shell roared in and as it blasted like an earthquake, a body was seen flung high in the air. It was Pte. A. A. Gallant of D Company, and when Sgt. McInnis rushed to search the house for the sniper, he found Gallant's body in an upper room. The sniper had been killed by the tank guns.

The firing in the streets continued and enemy shells added to the din. Captain Graham Longley, second-in-command of D Company, was wounded slightly in the legs. Then came another tremendous blast and Major Kennedy was so stunned by concussion that he later found himself on the far side of the village beside the curb, and had no idea of how he got there. He recovered at once and on going to find his company learned that Captain Longley had taken it back of Buron to dig in. Some men passing through were with him and saw a house being used as a sort of First Aid post. At least there was a Red Cross sign on it. They went in and found some fully armed and very healthy Germans lying in the beds, trying to hide. These were soon on their way to the prisoners' cage.

More shells arrived as they were leaving the street and Major Kennedy's batman was wounded so badly that he died soon after, but Kennedy again escaped injury. D Company had moved back to a position some distance in front of the anti-tank ditch. Lt. J. P. McNeil's platoon was over to the right as his sergeant, Viril Bartlett, had noticed sections of yellowed grass, had removed oblongs and squares of dried sod to find good slit trenches camouflaged. So the platoon occupied the spot. Lt. Mike McTague had his platoon to the left and nearer the road. He had started to dig in on the left of the road until Major Don Forbes, Second-in-command of the Novas, Major Kennedy and Captain Longley came back from forward observation and ordered D Company to stay on the right of the road. The other platoon, commanded by Lt. Harold Murphy, was slightly in advance of the rest of the company. Company headquarters was in the centre of the position and a bit to the rear. As the company was digging in a shell killed Captain Longley but there were no other immediate casualties and presently everyone had dug well down and was making ready for what was to come. Their field of observation, however, was very limited, this due to the tall growth of wheat that extended all around.

Up in Authie hell had broken loose. The 12th S. S. Division of the enemy had sent in an attack of tanks and infantry, backed by intensive artillery fire, that was strong enough to overwhelm a full regiment. The air was filled with earth and shrapnel and bits of wood. The din was such that no voice could be heard distinctly. The tank men were firing away as fast as they could reload and the machine guns were chattering at top speed. First groups of the enemy simply melted away before the murderous hail. Then other formations appeared in the smoke and dust, more separated. The enemy had found that the opposition was tough. The North Novas opened on the new groups with rifles and as the first lines drew nearer Stens and grenades were freely used. Time and again the enemy seemed but yards from the hedge and then they were blown down or hurled back. It seemed incredible that so small a force could keep back such weight and strength, but it was being done. Finally, some screaming men pointed out that groups of the enemy were coming in from the other side of the town. It meant there were such numbers that C Company was being surrounded. Captain "Hank" Fraser sized up the situation quickly. He said he would stay and hold back the onset as long as possible and those who could, should get away.

Lt. Veness was fighting grimly and no enemy had got nearer than fifty yards to his portion of hedge when he heard shooting behind him. He swung around at once to find that Lt. Sutherland's men were being forced back by a tidal wave of the enemy too numerous to halt. Soon the horde was pouring into the field next the orchard. Lt. Veness moved back to join Lt. Langley, but found that the enemy had worked around the end of the defences there and were surrounding the position. Shells were exploding in all directions and great clouds of smoke and dust made observation difficult. Men were dashing hither and thither in the confusion and soon Veness realized that many of them were Germans. He kept dodging from one alley to another, in and out of doorways. Some men were running with him. When a German blocked the way he was battered down. At last the northern end of the town was reached. Then there were fifty yards of open ground before the first field of grain, and two hundred yards or more beyond was the hedge and A Company.

The little group used the cover of some bushes and came upon a German tank. They sprinted madly for cover of the grain but six of the twelve North Novas were shot down before they reached the wheat. Then Lt Veness and his five men burst in among A Company men and panted the news of what was happening.

Lt Langley had no time to get away. The German rush around the end of his position was too swift. He and his gallant band had fought off every frontal effort but now they had the enemy both in front and behind them. He fought on until he was killed, and three of his men stayed and died with him.

Captain Fraser kept shooting until he was killed. So did the North Novas with him, and the Sherbrooke Fusiliers and Cameron Highlanders who elected to fight to the finish. They took a dreadful toll of the fanatical S. S. troops and beat off every frontal attack on the orchard corner. Only sheer numbers overcame them. Three German tanks had been destroyed by the guns of the Sherman in the orchard.

Other enemy tanks entered by the field and smashed buildings and walls en route. The firing became wilder. Lt Sutherland had his men dash back across the main road in small groups. He dodged a German tank by sprinting across the street as a shell knocked down a house corner and raised a huge cloud of dust. He then went between houses to the far side of the village and there some of his survivors gathered around him. Taking every advantage of ground pockets and the height of the wheat, they made a wide detour, going over almost to Gruchy, and so got back safely to Villons-les-Buissons. They hid in the grain and missed the tank battle that raged as German armor struck past Authie and it could be seen that a major attack was being launched. All available tanks maneuvered from hull-down positions south of Buron and a great fight between giants took place. A large number of Sherbrooke tanks became casualties, but they drove the enemy south of Authie for the time and German tanks were burning here and there around the fields.

Sgt. Bill Gammon had become separated from Lt. Sutherland in Authie as he stayed and shot at the enemy until some of them were no more than ten yards away. Then he made his way back as the men nearest him ran out of ammunition and were forced to surrender. Gammon was able to dodge the Germans in the clouds of dust and smoke hanging over the main road, but he met two of the enemy in a lane. He shot the first with his Sten and then it would not fire, so he hit the other German in the face with the gun and at last got into the wheat at the far side of the village. By night he had worked his way back alone and reached the battalion.

George Stewart, later C.S.M. of C Company, was a shoemaker until D Day. He went over with C Company and rode up to Authie on the carriers. He was in Captain Fraser's party and stayed at the hedge, shooting, until he had no more ammunition. Then he started back and after evading capture a dozen times in and around Authie finally killed a last German who barred his way and found a route to the grain. He got back to the unit that night.

Cpl. Douglas Wild was with Lt. Sutherland when two German tanks came at the corner his section was holding. His men fought valiantly for a moment but they could not cope with armor. Pte. G. E. Jordan was killed close beside Wild. Then Ptes. A. N. Levy and J. W. MacKinnon. Cpl. Wild ran to a hedge and jumped over it to escape fire from one of the tanks. Cpl. G. T. Holm was ahead of him and he was killed. A great cloud of dust rose as a building collapsed under shell fire and when Cpl. Wild staggered around in the dust on the road a German tank was there, quite lost. He bumped into it, then passed by its rear and raced into a lane only to meet three Germans in file. The leader lunged at him with a bayonet, but Wild used his rifle butt and knocked the man aside, then shot the other pair before they could attack him. He had two smoke bombs and threw them ahead of him, used the resulting screen and got safely across the street. As the smoke lifted he saw two Germans shooting from a window and a North Nova shooting at them with a Sten. Wild reached the grain and followed the trail Sutherland had made, getting back to the battalion.

There never was a wilder melee than that in Authie amid the smoke and dust and shooting. In ones and twos the Novas who survived fought their way through. Pte. Freeman Wallace was fighting near Sgt. Freddie Paynter when they were surrounded. Both men shot their way from the orchard, but were forced to separate as they got into the village. Sgt. Paynter was mixed up with a trio of the enemy, but killed them and got away. Wallace had ducked up the nearest alley with seven of the enemy just ahead of him. A salvo of shells alighted and Wallace dove through the smoke and dust that ensued to see another North Nova running into a passageway. Wallace followed after him and saw two of the enemy cut down by a blast from a Sten. Then he reached the grain field and joined up with one of Sutherland's men. It took them six hours to get back through the wheat to the battalion.

There were some others getting back through the grain. Cpl. Walter McKillop had been a mess corporal in England. He landed with A Company on D Day and then joined C Company during the morning's confusion, as his brother, Earl, was a Sergeant in it. He rode up with the carriers in his brother's platoon and the carrier he was in kept going through Authie and reached a spot beyond where they were told to dig in. Soon the shelling was very heavy and they saw the enemy advancing toward them in regimental strength. Cpl. McKillop's brother had five men in an advanced position and they were captured at once. Then a great burst of firing from the machine guns at the hedge pinned the enemy down for a few moments. The McKillop brothers and two other Novas who had been prisoners took advantage of the situation and bolted from the scene, escaping in the tall wheat. They by-passed Buron and got back to the battalion after dark.

Pte. Arthur Gould had been in the same carrier with Sgt. Earl McKillop as they went forward to the small rise beyond Authie and dug in. He and another had a slit trench by themselves and saw McKillop and his five men captured. Two German tanks passed very near Gould's trench, then were driven back by the hot fire from the orchard. A Nova stood up and shouted for the section to get back into Authie, but Gould and his companion were surrounded before they could move. They saw McKillop and the others duck away in the grain but the captors with Gould made sure of him and he was taken back to Caen as a prisoner.

Soon the last fighting in Authie was nearly over. Most of the Novas who had not got away had been captured. L/Cpl W. L. MacKay had been fighting in Lt. Sutherland's platoon, well dug in between the road and orchard. Two others stayed with him and they fought to the last. MacKay received a bullet through the face and was bleeding badly when the enemy swarmed over the position and took the Novas prisoners. The Germans were teen-aged fanatics and they screamed their hatred of the Canadians. They had thought to win through by sheer weight and ferocity, and it was incredible to them that so few men had been able to hold them back so long.
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Old 27-07-04, 02:36
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Default The Killing of PW's

Communications had broken down and it was hard to get any clear picture of what was going on. Captain Wilson was trying to make strong his position at the anti-tank ditch. The Mortars under Lt. Charlie MacDonald had arrived back of the ditch on the right side of the road and Sgt. Crosson took his section and joined them. Meanwhile more and more B Company men were gathered near Buron. Cpl. Ernest Gorveatt had been up to Authie with Major Douglas and Lt. Campbell and was pinned down there when blinded by flying earth. He had had a hard time crawling back by way of the ditch and twice more was blinded by flying sods. Cpl. H. L. McNeil of C Company and Graves' platoon, joined him, but soon after was killed by a bursting shell. Finally Gorveatt got back to Buron and joined Captain Wilson.

L/Cpl Frank Henderson was riding a tank with Lt. Brown and Eleven Platoon when a shell burst, wounded the man beside him and knocked him from the tank. He got ahead to the antitank ditch and then joined with Lt. Campbell's men and went up to Authie with him. He was pinned down by terrific shelling when the mortar carrier driver was killed and could not get back until he got on a carrier that was withdrawing to Buron. It kept on going, however, carrying him back to Les-Buissons. He at once set out on foot and reached the anti-tank ditch in time to join Captain Wilson's party.

R.S.M. McNeill went up with the Carriers to the south side of Buron and when the shelling became too hot he returned through Buron and took refuge in some German slit trenches by the stone wall. When a truckload of ammunition came up he had it emptied and filled the truck with wounded who were thus taken to the rear. After the fighting came nearer he told the few men with him to get back as best they could and he joined D Company in their position and fought with them until dark.

Others were getting back during that torrid afternoon. Cpl. Vernon Frizzell had three of his B Company men wounded during the baptism of shelling and while looking after them became separated from the rest of his platoon. But he got back to Buron and made his way to the anti-tank ditch in time to join Captain Wilson in the fighting.

Lt. Fraser Campbell of B Company had taken his platoon over to the right of Buron's back wall and there he dug in, using as well some old German slit trenches. The enemy, he felt, could not get through the village except by way of the main road and Major Learment was dug in there, guarding it. So the thing to do was watch the right of Buron and make sure no enemy came around it. A hedge near their slit trenches gave only slight protection and each man was warned to keep on the alert. A sniper in Buron began firing at them and Cpl. S. U. Swallow spotted him. Lt. Campbell called for his sniper, Pte. Danny Melanson, and asked him to take care of the fellow. Melanson fired twice and his second shot got the German. There was a lull and then a German machine gun fired suddenly from buildings beyond, wounding Melanson and another man. Lt. Campbell at once got his Bren busy and returned the fire, soon silencing the enemy gunner. Then there was another lull, and the wounded men were looked after.

A Company was having an anxious time. Some of the men in the spread-out position found they could not dig very deep before striking hard pan and so they had to form slit trenches in which they were alone and lying at full length. Some did not like being near the hedge as it cut off observation and these got back some distance in the field. Cpl. John Campbell was back there, with Ptes. R. P. Curley and W. H. Gerrior, the latter being behind a bush. Others were spread around and Sgt. Davis urged them to get down as far as possible and to watch all angles. The attack on Authie could be heard and Pte. Bradley came from Lt Sutherland's platoon with a message saying the A Company men were dug in with C Company and were being hard pressed. Soon the few survivors from C Company, with Lt Veness and Sgt. Bonnar, came running through the hedge. Major Rhodenizer had them dig in with his men and make the position as strong as possible. He had no orders to retire and was still expecting B Company to get up on the left, and Canadian artillery to come to the rescue.

Six German tanks appeared suddenly on the right toward Gruchy and, keeping out of Piat range, and in line astern, moved past A Company toward Buron, plastering A Company with 75s and machine gun fire, and killing nine men, all in Lt Smith's platoon. One shell blew up the company carrier. Pte. M. J. Coldwell, Major Rhodenizer's signaller, was killed and the set so damaged that though it could still be used to send no message could be received on it.

The platoons of A Company kept up a heavy fire as some German infantry had been seen but it was hard to detect the enemy among the wheat as the Germans were wearing camouflage uniforms and knew every trick of cover. The enemy who tried to work in from the right were checked by the survivors of Lt. Smith's platoon and he himself was using a rifle expertly. Captain Joe Trainor, second-in-command of A Company, was moving from post to post, encouraging the men and handing along ammunition which was becoming scarce as the reserve supply had gone up with the carrier. Lt. Jack Fairweather's platoon did good work on the left and kept the enemy away from the left side of the hedge. At last they had a stoppage with the Bren and Fairweather tried to make repairs. The Germans were all around the company's position but for an hour or more every attempt to get near was hurled back. All at once, near sundown, the heavy shelling on the position ceased. Major Rhodenizer, instantly suspicious, raised up to see what was happening and was confronted by two of the enemy, one with a machine gun. They said "Come." These men had crawled in the grain for hours and had finally got in close from an unexpected position. C.S.M. Adair, nearby, was likewise surprised and taken. Sgt. Aubrey Walters, dug in fifty yards from the hedge, met the same fate.

Then someone shouted loudly "Surrender," and a group of Germans rose from, a sort of ditch scarcely thirty yards away. Two of them had machine guns ready. Sgt. John Davis at once put his hands up and stood from his slit trench. Others began to do the same. More Germans appeared. Lt. Smith rose— with a rifle in his hands. Captain Trainor saw the error just in time. He shouted and Smith dropped his weapon as a German was making ready to shoot him. Cpl. John Campbell had a Bren gun but he could not shoot as five Novas had risen from their trenches and were standing in line with the Germans. So he pulled earth over the Bren, burying it, and stood up. More Germans came from the right. Then the two with machine guns shot and killed two of the men who had surrendered.

Pte. Brad Avery calmly shot two Germans from his slit trench, then got from it and was not noticed. Pte. Gerrior, back of the bush, had seen what happened. He shot both the German machine gunners and three others with five shots like rapid fire. He pulled the bolt from his rifle, threw it away and got up. The Germans had no idea of the direction the shots had come from and were crouched low, peering everywhere. Some of them went into the centre of A Company's position and took Lt. Veness prisoner, then Lt. Fairweather. Soon they had every surviving A Company man and they marched them back, shooting three with pistols as they went along. The Germans were S. S. troops, Hitler's pet crop of terrorists and cracked up as the finest fighters in history. Yet it had taken them a large part of the afternoon to over-run a position manned by a fifth of their number, and their rage was apparent. The prisoners were taken into Authie. The dust and smoke had settled and German bodies were lying in alleys and in the street and in the fields, everywhere, especially by the entrance to the orchard. It had cost the enemy a terrific price to overcome one company of Canadians. There were Canadian bodies, too. The S.S. troops, seemingly more animal than human, had taken prisoner those who fought to the last in Authie and stood them on a sidewalk as they made a quick search of houses nearby. The lifting of the smoke revealed the true story, showed the casualties inflicted by C Company, and this so enraged the Germans that they crowded around and shot several of the prisoners in cold blood. L/Cpl. Bill MacKay, bleeding from his head wound, rested by a ruin with his guard and saw the murder of his fellow prisoners. When the A Company men were brought in they saw the bodies on the sidewalk.

It is hard to say what might have happened to more of the prisoners had not Major Rhodenizer been there. He could speak German fluently, possessed plenty of tact and real courage. He talked to the raging disciples of Hitler and dissuaded them from further atrocities. During the night and the days that followed he was the man who managed to prevent further killings of the prisoners in his party.

The Novas saw four German tanks that had been knocked out, and then saw a fresh German battalion marching toward Buron in close formation. It was very evident that the enemy knew the North Novas lacked the backing of artillery and were making the most of the situation.

Elated by their success, the enemy pushed into Buron and explored. Suddenly Major Learment and his men were attacked from the front and left simultaneously and over-run by infantry supported by tanks which had worked through to the northern edge of Buron and fired from there. There was nothing much that could be done as Learment and his men were practically out of ammunition. So they surrendered and were marched into Buron on the double and the Germans began crawling toward Lt Campbell and his men, These had fought so well that all efforts of the enemy to get around by the right of Buron had failed. Only six men survived, unwounded, when German voices almost back of them ordered them to surrender. Lt. Eraser Campbell saw at a glance that they were trapped. They had not watched their left as they had thought Major Learment and his party were still holding in that direction and so were taken by complete surprise. They, too, were hustled into Buron. Some of the Novas were lined against a wall and ordered to crowd in closer. A machine gun was set up in front but at the last moment a German sergeant came running and shouting "Don't shoot!" No shot was fired but it was a very narrow escape.

D Company was well dug in, and Major Kennedy was determined that none of the enemy should get past him. The enemy had got an 18 set from one of the companies and a German voice was giving misinformation, shouting orders, ordering retreats and trying to create general confusion. The speaker was so clever with some imitations that the use of such communications ceased.

Everyone still fighting was now back by the anti-tank ditch or near it. The anti-tank guns were there. They had had a hard time getting back from the front area as an enemy self-propelled gun had come in and was firing so accurately that the nearest anti-tank detachment could not use its gun. But L/Sergeant J. J. Martin disregarded all personal safety and tried, alone, to get the gun into action. He tried twice and failed. The third time he was successful and, bringing the gun into action single-handed, he knocked out the enemy gun. Direct fire on his position had somehow missed him all the while, and fire from his gun then drove the enemy back so that his entire section was able to withdraw. Another hero in the anti-tank section was Pte. R. J. Noonan who, with his detachment, had dug in hurriedly back of Buron. While in their slit trenches they came under heavy machine gun fire from a German tank that prowled boldly around the end of the town. The standing grain prevented Noonan from having a good field of fire so he stood up in the open, reckless of the snapping tank bullets, and opened fire with his Bren gun. So accurate was he that the tank was obliged to swerve away and withdraw enough to permit Noonan's section to bring their guns into action and as the tank re-appeared it was destroyed.

Captain Wilson had B Company lined along the big anti-tank ditch, and had several of the Cameron Highlanders' machine guns to assist The Cameron's officer with him had been killed but Major Rowley of the unit was there. Wilson had shown good judgment in getting away from Buron to a defensive position with a good field of fire where he could make a last-man, last-round stand. He had two mortars with him, and a six-pounder firing high explosive. As soon as B Company saw the first enemy infantry coming through Buron fire was put down on them. The six-pounder and the machine guns concentrated on the road entrance to Buron and time and again drove the enemy back. At long last the ammunition of the ditch defenders was expended and about the time Brigadier Cunningham had decided that the proportions of the German counter-attack were such that he should have a firm base and he ordered the Glens and H.L.I. to dig in at Les Buissons. It seemed that Buron could not be held and so he ordered the North Novas to move back and join up with the rest of the brigade.

Wilson decided to line the carriers up in the road and make a break for it L/Cpl. H. L. Fraser stood up in the wheat and emptied a Bren gun against enemy machine guns on the left of Buron, then continued to stop and empty magazines as he moved over with his company to the carriers. His covering fire was a large factor in the success of the withdrawal. Pte. R. J. Noonan, who had helped in the destruction of an enemy tank, also stood up with his Bren and gave excellent covering fire as his detachment and B Company moved back to where the Glens were dug in.

Lt. Charlie MacDonald had got his mortars well established just behind the anti-tank ditch to the right of the road and he opened fire as a regular attack was made on D Company. Enemy tanks came around the flank of Buron but the remaining tanks of the Sherbrookes and the self-propelled guns of the anti-tanks opened fire from the woods of Les Buissons and drove them back. The enemy then opened up on D Company's position with 75s, pouring on everything they had. Under cover of the barrage, S.S. men wearing camouflage tried to crawl forward but MacDonald's men were raining mortars over the D Company position, around it and many on it, and the enemy could not get in. A few who managed to get near began shouting "Surrender, Canada." Then a voice over an 18 set ordered Major Kennedy to withdraw, but as he could not identify himself he was given no heed. D Company held on. A German rose from the wheat and charged in. Sgt. Bartlett went to meet him and made him prisoner but the man died from wounds he received. Sgts. Roland Alien and Art Arseneau were doing good work, encouraging their men. Cpl. Farmer wounded a German who got near and made him prisoner. Major Kennedy was in a slit trench with two signallers. He saw a German with a machine gun and went out to him, seeing that the man had been dazed by a near mortar burst. The man was so cowed by Kennedy's resolute approach that he did not try to shoot and scrambled in as a prisoner at once.

The attack on A Company had ended about 1700 hours, and had begun on D Company half an hour later. It kept on and on. At 1830 hours the tanks had been driven back. By 1930 hours Captain Wilson had withdrawn to Les Buissons. Still the attack on D Company persisted and some of the enemy arrived at Lt Murphy's trench. This forward platoon had had many casualties. Five times the enemy had been near it but each time they had been driven back. They came a sixth time and swarmed in as only Lt. Hal Murphy and five unwounded men were holding on. Then, at long last, the waited-for came. The artillery arrived!
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Old 27-07-04, 03:45
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Default Re: North Nova Scotia Highlanders - 7 June 1944

John;

A Map to accompany your text: Buron-Authie 7 Jun 44
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Old 27-07-04, 03:50
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Post Re: North Nova Scotia Highlanders - 7 June 1944 - Evening

John;

An overlay of the positions occupied by the NNSH on the evening of 7 Jun 44 at Les Buissons:
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Old 27-07-04, 04:05
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Default The final part.

When the first shells roared overhead and burst among the creeping enemy D Company, dazed at first after four hours' of continuous shelling, then comprehending, wanted to stand and cheer. The blasting fire crashed down at the outskirts of Buron. It routed the Germans. They could be seen running in all directions. The men of Sixteen Platoon, Murphy's, who had been captured, dived into the wheat as their captors went to ground, and escaped. But the S.S. fanatic guarding Murphy shot him, before he dove away like a scuttling rat, and the gallant officer died from his wound a few days later.

The guns poured it in and the Germans had had enough. He had been up against men who were better fighters and had persisted in attack because he had far superior numbers and every possible advantage. He was fighting men who had only small arms fire with which to defend themselves and once he had artillery fire coming at him he was finished. So the camouflaged creepers in the grain changed to scuttling fleeing losers. They got back into Buron as fast as they could go and kept right on through it. Twelve tanks came out and chased them, killing dozens with accurate fire. German tanks had vanished at first sound of artillery on the scene and the enemy were hounded back to Authie, dying in groups all over the field. Their losses were such that they could not organize another attack.

Comparative quiet settled down over the trenches of D Company. A tank rolled up with a load of ammunition but it dropped just one box before scurrying back to cover as the driver, seeing so many dead Germans about, felt that he was in an enemy position. As night fell Lt.-Col. Petch organized a relieving force, with a tank to accompany it, to bring D Company in, and the remnants of the battalion that had begun the day so confidently filed back to Les Buissons with Lt. Murphy and other wounded on the tank. The Novas were utterly weary but they had put up a wonderful fight against terrific odds and their day's work was of far-reaching consequence. The long hours had been filled with glorious personal achievement, with dogged resistance to overwhelming numbers. They had been brightened by countless acts of individual bravery, by the great courage of Captain Fraser and his men in the orchard at Authie. Now came the task of finding how many had survived the battle.

Some of the escapes were little short of incredible. Cpl. R. M. Harrison was driving the platoon commander of the point section that had advanced toward Franqueville, and when they were attacked many men were wounded. There was heavy fire from enemy tanks as well. Cpl. Harrison crawled out time and again and brought the wounded back to his carrier which he had parked at a low spot in the ground, then drove them back to safety despite the fact that the enemy tanks had already accounted for the rest of the carriers in his section. As soon as he had the wounded unloaded he started back again on another errand of mercy but by this time C Company had been over-run and many enemy tanks were about so that it was only by extreme good fortune that he was able to get back himself. He showed unusual courage, as did so many men of the Novas that day.

L/Cpl. J. E. Porter was No. 1 on a Bren gun team in Lt. Campbell's platoon. When near Authie he was wounded severely in the leg by shrapnel. He managed to crawl to a hedge and there was bandaged by a stretcher bearer from another company who told him to stay by the hedge until medical aid picked him up. But Porter saw the carriers going back to Buron and became alarmed. The shelling became very heavy. So he crawled to the road and was taken back by an artillery officer to C.S.M. Snooks of B Company who placed him, with three other wounded, in a carrier and so got him back to Les Buissons. The carriers had done excellent work in getting the wounded back, removing many of the Sherbrooke Fusiliers and Cameron Highlanders as well as North Novas. The carrier crews had suffered many casualties. Sgt. "Moose" Schurman who had taken the German officers out of the cellar in Buron, was killed in Authie when a shell struck a house in which he had taken temporary refuge. Pte. Jerry Willigar was killed when a shell struck his carrier, and Sgt. Don Baillie was wounded so badly that he died a few days later. After being wounded Baillie asked for a rifle. He said he had been too badly wounded to be removed and would hold off the enemy as long as possible.

Lt. MacDonald's mortar men had acquitted themselves well. They had first dug in back of D Company with o-pips in the big ditch, and had brought down indirect fire forward of A and B Companies. As the battle increased the firing was directed on Buron and it was then that Lt MacDonald heard Major Rhodenizer's voice on the 18 set, saying his men were surrounded and fighting, and needed help. Soon the Germans could be seen emerging from Buron and Sgt. MacLeod of the mortars fired on them with a German machine gun he had picked up at Buron. The tank battle was raging all around and MacDonald wondered what was to happen. Then Sgt. Wilson, his second-in-command, told him the mortar ammunition was expended so the platoon was ordered back to Les Buissons. On reaching there they were supplied with shells by the Glens and at once laid down a heavy fire on the front of D Company's position which they maintained vigorously while the action lasted.

Lt. Sutherland and men who were with him was the first to get back from Authie. Then Sgt. Paynter came in with more. Lt. Bob Graves got back with a handful from his platoon. About thirty-five got back from A and C Companies, with an officer and sergeant from each. B Company came in sixty strong with Lts. Brown and Grieves. D Company could muster seventy of all ranks. Seventy-four men had been killed and seventeen of the number were N.C.O's. Most of them had proved to be excellent leaders. Some had shown great courage as did Sgt. Jimmy McInnis of D Company who stayed at Buron to the finish and was last seen with both pistols blazing, surrounded by German dead. Thirty of all ranks had been wounded and evacuated. Twenty-one more had been wounded and had to be left behind to be taken prisoner. One hundred and five others had been captured as the weight of two battalions of German infantry and squadrons of Panzers fought to beat down the company in the Authie orchard and another company on the open ground south of Authie, aided by unlimited artillery and mortars. Kurt Meyer's Panzer troops were supposed to be invincible. Meyer said he had fifty tanks at his disposal that June 7th but blamed his losses on a lack of petrol. Feuchtinzer, commanding the 21st Panzers in Caen, said that Meyer's excuse was a lie, that he had had plenty of petrol and that Meyer had assured him that the English, the "kleine fische," would be driven to the sea. The fighting qualities of one Canadian battalion, minus artillery, had given the lie to that boast.

Much was written about the feat of the North Novas and their story will live. The gist of all that war correspondents and others said was that the determined thrust of the Novas took them deeper into Normandy during the first hours of the invasion than any other unit on their front, a brilliant epic of Canadian fighting in France. That the Novas had pushed to within a short distance of their objective, entirely unsupported, had fought off the first tank-supported and determined counter-attack delivered against the Canadians, that the Novas were machine-gunned, mortared, shelled and attacked by German tanks in great numbers, were pressed by more than twice their number of fanatical S.S. troops clad in camouflage, and that after wrecking every attempt made to break through them, the Novas were withdrawn to positions around Les Buissons where they formed a solid front with the sister battalions of their brigade—the Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders, and the Highland Light Infantry of Canada. The Germans had absorbed so much punishment that they contented themselves thereafter in that sector with mortar and shell bombardments of the Canadian position.

Strangely, the Anti-Tank Platoon had escaped without a casualty. Two sections had been riding with the vanguard. One was to drop off at Buron and remain until the last of the brigade had passed, and another section was to do the same at the crossroads beyond Authie. The two sections were in position for some time between Buron and Les Buissons and it was there that Sgt Martin did such good work. When word came for the withdrawal to Les Buissons one of the anti-tank carriers had a track blown off and a mortar carrier brought back the gun and crew. The mishap to the carrier was the first and only loss of the day, and Lt Murray Leaman was quite proud of the showing of his men.

Everyone dug in well but the position at Les Buissons was very crowded. More tanks and guns had arrived and the congestion was great. More anti-tank guns, too, had arrived. However the tanks left in the morning and there was more room as the battalion got organized. The anti-tank guns were dug in after filling in places left by the tanks. The mortars were dug in in the defence perimeter immediately behind BHQ and during the cool and quiet morning a much-needed rest was had by all members of the unit. The losses had been heavy.

Captain F. C. Fraser, Lt. J. H. Langley, Captain H. G. Longley, Sgts. J. A. McInnis and L. O. Schurman, Cpls. G. T. Holm, J. F. Maclntyre, F. F. MacKenzie, W. L. McKinnon, G. L. O'Leary and T. M. Riggs, L/Cpls. J. F. Arseneault, J. R. Arseneault, H. W. Bailey, R. N. MacMillan, J. B. Murray, D. S. Orford, H. J. Penney, S. U. Swallow, and C. A. Tolson, and Ptes. A. B. Barrett, O. J. Beaudoin, O. J. Bellefontaine, F. U. Bigelow, L. Brown, H. T. Carter, C. J. Casey, D. T. Clattenburg, M. J. Coldwell, I. L. Crowe, F. Dalling, F. Daries, J. J. David, A. Dennis, J. E. A. Deveau, W. M. Doherty, C. Doucette, L. A. Fleet, A. H. Gallant, S. Gosse, J. D. Hargreaves, L. W. Izzard, G. E. Jordan, A. Julian, R. Keeping, A. N. Levy, C. J. MacDonald, E. MacDonald, H. A. MacDonald, J. W. MacKinnon, G. R. MacPherson, R. N. MacRae, W. J. McGinnis, H. L. McKeil, C. S. McKenzie, G. R. McNaughton, J. Metcalfe, G. E. Millar, T. E. Mont, R. Moore, J. A. Moss, G. Muntion, W. Nichol, E. O'Hanley, R. E. Pearson, J. E. Reynolds, C. Riggs, H. M. Shirton, J. S. Webster, G. Westtake, J. P. Williams, G. R. S. Willigar, G. Wilson and A. W. Wright were killed. Lt. H. E. Murphy and Sgt. Don Baillie died later of wounds.

Major J. W. Douglas, Captain D. L. Clarke, Cpls. W. E. Fullerton, A. R. Mac-Intyre, G. L. Sceeles and L. D. Wigmore, L/Cpls. G. Fougere, W. L. MacKay, J. E. Porter, Ptes. F. E. Avery, E. Clarke, G. T. Elgie, J. Hall, R. E. Hanebury, W. K. Hyatt, B. S. James, A. E. V. Knapper, E. A. Lane, N. J. LeBlanc, J. B. MacCormack, E. D. Mack, R. D. Matthews, H. B. Messereau, J. Reid, J. A. Rice, G. P. Scoville, W. L. Simpson, G. G. Weatherby and A. L. Glennie were wounded and evacuated.

Sgts. S. Dudka and C. B. Morris, Cpl. C. O. Gourley and Ptes. F. N. Aucoin, A. J. Campbell, P. J. Diggins, R. L. Dunn, A. F. Fisher, D. B, Gordon, G. A. Laforet, J. M. Macdonald, R. J. U. Masse, P. F. McConnell, J. McNeil, D. W. Melanson, E. Peters, H. W. Pyke, R. J. Richards, S. A. Sampson, M. S. Sweeney and M. G. Whitehead were wounded and, not evacuated, were taken prisoner.

Maj. J. D. Learment, Maj. L. M. Rhodenizer, Capt. J. A. Trainor, Lts. S. F. Campbell, G. A. P. Smith, J. M. Veness and J. L. Fairweather, C.S.M. R. Adair, C.S. M. J. A. Mackey, Sgts. G. R. M. Higgins and A. M. Walters, Cpls. S. R. Bell, J. R. B. Campbell, E. H. MacCallum, L/Cpls. T. F. Buck-ley, F. S. Carter, P. T. Griffin, T. G. Humphrey, B. E. R. Joudrey, W. E. Jury, L. E. Pace, W. Smith, W. S. Stevenson and H. J. White, Ptes. W. A. Adamson, B. E. Avery, S. W. Avery, C. T. Baglole, F. Baglole, L. J. Barlow, L. E. Barteaux, T. Bird, R. W. Bishop, W. A. Bonnar, G. C. Boutilier, G. C. Carrier, C. E. Carroll, J. G. Chartrand, L. Clements, N. Cooke, B. J. Cormier, O. T. Crooks, R. P. Curley, A. S. Darragh, D. L. Deschaine, S. B. Doiron, J. L. Donovan, A. Doolan, W. Dube, A. J. Edmunds, E. C. Fanning, E. G. Fillmore, T. M. Flynn, M. J. Folland, C. H. Fogerson, A. S. Fraser, J. H. Gass, W. H. Gerrior, A. J. Gould, H. M. Guy, T. E. Higgins, D. L. Horton, S. Hughes, G. W. Keddy, L. J. Kelly, J. W. Lawless, D. H. Lewis, J. E. MacAloney, G. D. MacDonald, C. ,S. MacLennan, C. B. MacPherson, R. Madore, S. T. Mauger, H. E. McCulloch, D. A. McLellan, W. T. McLeod, A. B. McSween, G. Metcalfe, A. A. Mills, J. G. Mills, F. A. Norton, W. G. Nick-«rson, N. B. O'Brien, P. O. O'Brien, D. A. O'Handley, M. Otis, .A. L. Perry, G. W. Phillips, C. G. Rafuse, G. E. Richards, H. K. Robinson, F. P. Rose, J. M. Russell, R. L. Saulnier, W. C. Seller, H. W. Sherrah, W. C. C. Silver, P. H. Smith, J. L. Spanks, G. P. Talbot, G. H. Thompson, R. Trask, A. R. S. Wardrope and KB. Whidden were taken prisoner.

Lts. Fraser Campbell and G. A. P. Smith were being marched with the other prisoners a few days later when they dodged from the column into a side road, and hid. They were not missed until the party had gone three miles. By that time they were well hidden and soon after changed their clothing for French dress. The French hid them and fed them. They were given a bicycle and pistol each and passed along from one party to another until they reached a large town not far back of the German lines opposing the Americans. They boldly entered the town and moved among the Germans and reached a home where they were hidden under a bed as German officers had dinner in the next room. They then tried to get across the lines at night but two attempts failed as they did not know the enemy positions. Both times they got back safely and for four days stayed in a forward air raid shelter, making ready for a third try. Then a German patrol was passing when heavy shelling started and the men, going to ground, found Campbell and Smith in their hiding place. L/Cpl. Bill MacKay was starved at his prison camp until he had lost sixty pounds. Then, in a sudden surge, the Americans captured the town and the German prison camp and MacKay was released. He soon regained his health, returned to the North Novas and became an outstanding soldier.

Lts. Fairweather and Veness and Major Don Learment escaped from a train as it climbed a grade and hid in a forest, helped by the French Underground. They served for some little time with the French and Fairweather and Veness were engaged in a battle with the Germans. Then all three were taken to England by plane and soon Fairweather and Veness were back with the unit, joining it at the Scheldt. Both officers were outstanding and became majors. Major Learment also returned to the North Novas for two different periods.

Interrogation of prisoners taken later in the Buron sector showed that the Germans had thought the Novas returned to the line at Buron and it was the latter part of June 8th before the lack of shelling or shooting from that position roused the suspicions of the enemy. They sent three platoons to investigate, and were surprised to find Buron quite empty of Canadians.

Last edited by John McGillivray; 27-07-04 at 04:11.
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Old 27-07-04, 16:55
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Post Re: North Nova Scotia Highlanders - 7 June 1944

John;

Another map showing the advance of the 9th Inf Bde on 7 Jun 44:
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map 9 bde 7 jun.jpg  
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Old 27-07-04, 18:50
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Fantastic!!
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Old 11-09-04, 05:58
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A freind of mine recently passed away Lt Jim Kirkwood he was with the North Novas from D-Day till just after Caen ,He was taken out of action when he went back to find one of his errant Carriers that had thrown a track due to sloppy maintanance and as he was approaching the area he took a round near him from an 88 ,and spent the rest of the war in Bathingstoke nurilogical Hospital.
As it so happens were my Granfather was an orderly while serving with the Royal Canadian Engineers
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Old 08-05-05, 16:52
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Here is some additional information regarding the battles on the 7th of June.

According to the book by Jean-Claude Perrigault “21. Panzer-Division”; the area of the advance by the North Novas and the Sherbrooke Fusiliers was defended by troops from a Panzergrenadier Battalion from 21st Pz Div., supported by detachments from Sturmgeschütz-Abteilung 200, along with troops from 716th Division.

The presents of armoured halftracks indicates that the Battalion was I./Panzergrenadier-Regiment 192 (gp).

Sturmgeschütz-Abteilung 200 was equipped with self-propelled 7.5cm Pak and 10.5cm le.FH 16 howitzers mounted on old French tanks. Note that I./192 also had 3 self-propelled 7.5cm Paks. (“Normandy 1944” by Niklas Zetterling)

The odd vehicle with the 16 mortar barrels mounted on it was a Reihenwerfer. These weapons were only used by 21st Panzer. The two Panzergrenadier-Regiments of 21st Pz. Div. each had four Reihenwerfers.

During their advance the Canadians encountered two 88mm guns. All of the 7.5mm Paks in 21st Pz Div. were self-propelled and not towed weapons. However, Panzerjäger-Abteilung 200 had 24 8.8cm Paks.

In the book “Bloody Buron! Canada’s D-Day + 1” by John Gilbert, it is indicated that “C” Sqn of the Sherbrooke Fusiliers destroyed two Panzer IV tanks belonging to 21st Pz Div. on the left side of the Canadian Advance. This occurred at about noon time, two hours before the first encounter with 12th SS Pz Div. Also he points out that most maps depicting the actions of 7th June are incorrect. “C” Sqn was ambushed by 12th SS Pz Div as they were passing to the East of Authie and never reached Franquevelle. It was “A” Sqn., which had passed on the west side of Authie that had reached Franquevelle.

The counter-attack of the 12th SS involved two Battilions of Panzergrenadier-Regiment 25, 5th, 6th and 7th companies of SS-Panzer-Regimant 12; supported by the guns of III./SS-Artillerie-Regiment 12, two batteries of 8.8cm Flak guns of SS-Flak-Abteilung 12. According to Kurt Mayer’s book “Grenadiers” there was also a Nebelwerfer Battalion, which was not part of 12th Pz Div. This unit may have been from 21st Pz Div., or Werfer-Brigade 7. Note that the artillery of 12th SS Pz. Div. held its fire until the start of the counter-attack. All of the artillery and mortar fire that the Canadians endured throughout the day was from that of 21st Pz Div. and 716th Div.

In the book “Normandy 1944” Niklas Zetterling has a chapter entitled “German Combat Efficiency”
On page 92 he states:

“There are, however, a few situations with ample data. When SS-Panzergrenadier-Regiment 25, supported by Panzer IV's of the II./SS-Panzer-Regiment "Hitlerjugend", counterattacked Canadian forces on 7 June, the Germans lost 205 men, compared to 308 Canadian soldiers.”

This is suppose to show the superiority of German Troops. However, he is comparing the Canadian losses for the entire day only to those of 12th SS Pz. Div, and has ignored the losses of 716th and 21st Pz. Div. The Canadians were in action for more than seven hours before they had their first encounter with 12th SS.

In summary the North Novas and SFR had engaged a vastly numerically superior enemy force, made up of troops from three German Divisions, and possessing a vast superior in fire power. The Canadians most likely inflicted a greater number of casualties on that force, then what they themselves had suffered; and had finished the day 2km deeper into France then where they had started the day.
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Old 08-05-05, 18:45
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Hi frends,

Yes,… Authie…, not easy, controversial and sore subject for both fighting armies. The Poles have identical places at Normandy where various stories about the methods of fight and stubbornness can be heard.

Quote:
Originally written by Tony Foster

The rumour of Canadian troops killing German prisoners that Kurt Meyer had heard two days earlier was confirmed with an on-site inspection by motorcycle. Dr. Gatternigg rode in the sidecar with him.

"After the Breteville attack I drove back to Authie. Wünsche reported that the attacking troops on the west side of Rots had dug in and that by now Kraa's 3rd Battalion of the 26th Panzer Grenadier Regiment had made contact with my left wing. Whereupon I drove from Ardenne to Kraa's Battalion HQ at Rots and discussed the situation with Hugo personally. After leaving Rots I drove south, under the railway viaduct."

A few hundred yards beyond the viaduct he came across a burned-out armoured troop carrier of the 21st Panzer Division and a radio car belonging to the 12th SS. On the opposite side of the road he saw ten bodies lying in a semicircle, one medic still holding a field dressing who had apparently been in the middle of giving aid to a wounded comrade when he was gunned down.

"They were all shot through the chest or head. Their weapons were still on the burned vehicle. Within the semicircle of bodies there were no weapons. In all my battles I have very rarely found a whole group of infantrymen dead in one bunch. That sort of thing happens in street or house fighting or on roads, but never in open countryside… After I returned to the Abbaye I spoke to the Divisional Commander on the telephone about the tactical situation and after… made this report…

"On 7 June, a notebook was taken from the body of a dead Canadian captain. In it were notes written apparently a few hours before the invasion. In addition to tactical orders the handwritten notes stated that 'prisoners are not to be taken'. Some Canadian prisoners were asked to verify these instructions. They confirmed that their orders were to take no prisoners if they were a hindrance to their advance.
"*


* Quoted from the petition of Hubert Meyer given before the Hamburg court in 1948 during the trial of SS Obersturmbannführer Bernhard Siebken.


Source:
Tony Foster
Meeting of Generals
Authors Choice Press, Lincoln 1986
ISBN 0-595-13750-4
pages 322-323
Simply war...
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Old 09-05-05, 03:06
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I have not read Tony Foster’s book. However, there is a book entitled “Conduct Unbecoming” by Howard Margolian. It goes into detail about the murders of Canadian Troops by 12th SS. This is from the Preface of the book .(p.X)

“During the first ten days that followed the Normandy landings, 156 Canadian officers, NCOs, and rank-and-file troops, all members of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, were deliberately and brutally murdered after capture by elements of the German formation that opposed them, the 12th SS Panzer Division 'Hitler Youth.' Like the bayoneting of Private Brown, some of the killings were on-the-spot acts of spontaneous battlefield violence.. The vast majority, however, were cold, calculated, and systematic acts of mass murder, carried out well behind the front lines, a considerable time after the prisoners' capture.

“This is the story of the criminal slaughter of Canadian prisoners of war in Normandy and of postwar attempts to prosecute the perpetrators. It does not make for gentle reading. Indeed, most of the killings were so casual in the manner of their execution and yet so ghastly and devastating in their consequences that they beggar the imagination. No one who has read the investigative materials relating to these crimes is apt to forget them - the crushing of several prisoners' skulls with clubs and rifle butts, the machine-gunning of dozens of POWs on a moonlit back road, the murder of the wounded, the indignities done to some of the bodies.”

Five senior officers were implicated in the killings of the Canadian POW’s: Karl-Heinz Milius (CO of III/25 Bn), Kurt Meyer (CO of 25 PzGn Regt), Gerhard Bremer (CO of 12 Recce Regt), Wilhelm Mohnke (CO of 26 PzGn Regt), and Siegfried Muller (CO of PiBn 12). Two of these officers had served in concentration camps earlier in their careers. Muller had done a ten month stint as the commander of a detachment of concentration camp guards, while Milius had spent two years at Dachau where he commanded a platoon of guards. Note that Milius was the commander of the battalion which was responsible for the first murders of Canadian troops in Authie on the 7th of June.

Wilhelm Mohnke was implicated in the murders of British troops in 1940, Canadian troops in June 1944 and American troops in December 1944.

Quote:
They were all shot through the chest or head. Their weapons were still on the burned vehicle. Within the semicircle of bodies there were no weapons. In all my battles I have very rarely found a whole group of infantrymen dead in one bunch
This story has only one source: Kurt Mayer. There are no other witnesses or evidence to support his claims. Hubert Mayers makes no mention of this incident in his history of 12th SS.

Quote:
After leaving Rots I drove south, under the railway viaduct."
The location is interesting in that it is located well behind German lines. No Allied troops had penetrated that far south during the period 7th to 9th of June. Rots was only captured by British and Canadian troops on the 11th of June. The only explanation that makes sense is that Kurt Mayer invented the whole story in an attempt to muddy the waters, and to justify his own actions at the Abbaye d’Ardenne.

Quote:
"On 7 June, a notebook was taken from the body of a dead Canadian captain. In it were notes written apparently a few hours before the invasion. In addition to tactical orders the handwritten notes stated that 'prisoners are not to be taken'. Some Canadian prisoners were asked to verify these instructions. They confirmed that their orders were to take no prisoners if they were a hindrance to their advance."*
I think that in Hubert Mayer's book the document reads something to the effect that attacking troops are not to stop to take prisoners. According to Michael Reynolds in the book “Steel Inferno” there is three scenarios where the killing of prisoners is legal. The first is if they are trying to escape. The second is if the taking or holding of prisoners endangers the safety of the captors, and the third is if the taking of prisoners will prevent the achieving of a military objective. Also the Geneva Convention clearly upholds the principle that reprisals may not be taken against prisoners of war but this fact conveniently ignored by German apologists.
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Old 09-05-05, 05:28
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Hi John,

The problem is not new but also is not easier together with time running. As I wrote the same "Normandy problems" are well-known in Poland and in the USA. This is also inter-Allied problem still waiting for serious scientific discussion between the historians and veterans but nobody wants to initiate such a debate. What we may observe in the meantime is something other and this is -- in my opinion -- much worse option. We do have strange historic paradox -- not the Germans accuse the Allies of mistreating the POWs but the ex-Allies do it between them. Real phenomenon. After WWII Canadian Maj.-Gen. George Kitching suggested Polish war crimes at Normandy (executing the POWs by Maj.-Gen. Stanis³aw Maczek's Armoured Division) as well as the same American war crimes done by the US Army's 90th Infantry Division. The US 90th ID veterans write about the Polish and French FFI war crimes at Normandy, the Polish veterans tell about the 90th's war crimes. Also Canadian Brig.-Gen. Jack L. Summers mentions Polish mistreating the German POWs. Etc., etc., etc. To sum up -- not so good situation and atmosphere. Sixty years long these problems run under the carpet in the official inter-Allied relations but it seems to be not the best solution.

On the other hand nobody in the West asks Polish veterans of the Normandy Campaign what did they see then in the field of mistreating or executing the POWs by the other Allies but I assure they saw the same things as they are accused of by the other ex-Allies. For me -- very sad facts in the inter-Allied relations. After 60 years the historians still are not ready to discuss about such things publicly, fair and square. Only American historian Stephen E. Ambrose had a civilian courage to state that in the ETO approx. 56,000 of the German POWs lost their lives in the American hands by all possible non-combat causes. Such a subject is a taboo in Poland as well though it is public secret what happened also to the SS/Waffen SS POWs taken in Normandy by the Poles. I know at least two private archives containing Allied veterans memoirs from Normandy about the killing the POWs. As always in such cases the memoirs are embargoed by the veterans and/or their families till 2010, 2030, 2050, etc. No simple rules in such cases.

I would be unable to write the Canadian military history of course. I quoted Tony Foster's book because the author shows various aspects of the war and he gives a chance for both enemies to tell about their viewpoints. This is, in my opinion, the best and the most objective publicistic manner of writting.

Tony Foster is a son of Maj.-Gen. Harry W. Foster, GOC of the Canadian 4th Armoured Division among others. Some time ago I changed several emails with Mr. Tony Foster and my impression is very good, he is normal Canadian citizen and patriot as all of you, maybe he knows about the war a little more than we? I do not know. He used for his book his father's archive and memoirs among others of course. As we know Maj.-Gen. Foster was extremely well-informed in the field of the ETO war crimes due to his membership in the post-WWII Canadian Military Court Martial but he also was a frontline commander with his own personal experience what is war.

No doubt Maj.-Gen. Harry W. Foster was not typical Allied general however. He wrote famous sentences related to his experience as the President of the Court sentenced Kurt Meyer to death. Some of the executed Canadian POWs had been his Brigade soldiers none the less Foster wrote:

Quote:
Originally written by Maj.-Gen. Harry W. Foster

There was an irony to this whole distasteful affair. Not because of what had happened to my men -- that was inexcusable. But then war itself is inexcusable. What struck me as I sat in my comfortable chair looking down at this hardnosed Nazi was that not one of us sitting on the bench, with the exception of Bredin, could claim clean hands in the matter of war crimes or atrocities or whatever you want to call them. It had not all been one-sided. Our troops did some pretty dreadful things to the Germans. Did not that make all of us who were commanding officers just as guilty as Meyer? I remember thinking at the time: you poor arrogant bastard. Except for any accident of birth and background our positions might have been reversed. In which case I would now be standing before you asking for justice at this meeting of generals.


Source:
Tony Foster
Meeting of Generals
Authors Choice Press, Lincoln 1986
ISBN 0-595-13750-4
Chapter "Prelude", page XXIII

Best regards
(and do not shoot at me, friends)

C.

Last edited by Crewman; 11-05-05 at 17:20.
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Old 09-05-05, 18:47
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Not to diminish John's main point with respect to the vague nature of the accusations against the Canadians, but if I am not mistaken, D Coy of the Regina Rifles did briefly hold the area around La Villeneuve (S. of Rots) on 7 June, withdrawing closer to Bretteveille on the 8th. While I've always struggled to get a good sense of the distance from that location (on the Caen-Bayeux highway) to the original railway line, I think it's quite possible that Canadians were in the area during that time. Hopefully that doesn't bolster Meyer's self-serving claim too much.
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Old 10-05-05, 06:17
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We are getting away from the original topic of this thread which was about the battles on the 7th of June.

Hubert Mayer’s book came with a separate map book. From this one can see that Villeneuve is located about 400 to 500 metres north of the railway line, while the site reported by Kurt Mayer is a few hundred yards south of the railway.

Crewman is missing the most important point. Yes things happen on the battlefield which should not happen. However the murders committed by 12th SS were of an entire different nature. Most of the murders did not happen on the battlefield, but occurred well to the rear of the German front lines. The victims were taken as prisoners of war and had been disarmed and moved to the rear by the Germans. Some were questioned; others had the wounds treated, before they were ordered to be murdered.

These acts were unique in Normandy to 12th SS. No other unit, either Allied or German committed such acts, or murdered prisoners in this manner. The murders all occurred in the first ten days after the Normandy landings, and then suddenly stopped. This may be due to the fact that senior officers realized that the war was lost. Also the Allies had dropped leaflets warning that persons guilty of war crimes will be held accountable.

“As a result of the investigations made by the Special Inquiries Section G-1, SHAEF, covering the period following the Allied landings in Normandy, it was found that the conduct of the 12th SS Panzer Division (Hitler-Jügend) presented a consistent pattern of brutality and ruthlessness.” (Supplementary Report, SHAEF Court of Inquiry)
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Old 11-05-05, 10:56
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Quote:
Originally posted by John McGillivray
We are getting away from the original topic of this thread which was about the battles on the 7th of June.
Perhaps not all of you know Maj.-Gen. Harry W. Foster's memoirs and reflections related to June 7th. He was then Brigadier and GOC of the Canadian 7th Infantry Brigade. I like Foster very much because he was very honest and artless man and these are uncommon attributes in the case of generals. Let's look at John's story from the command level.


Quote:
Originally written by Maj.-Gen. Harry W. Foster

We were now holding a very thin line with a number of gaps. If the Germans organized a counterattack during the night we'd have been in serious trouble. The men were bushed. Some hadn't slept in three days. They were stuffed with wake-up pills and just about dead on their feet. Div. HQ said that aerial reconnaissance had spotted the 12th SS moving up and for us to expect counterattacks during the early morning… I called an O Group for regimental commanders for 0130 hours to lay out the next day's drill.

The problem with wars is that they operate on 24-hour basis and those intending to make the decision necessary for fighting them either learn to adapt or are swiftly replaced. Too many lives are at stake for it to be otherwise. It is not his opponent but mental fatigue and muzzy-mindedness that will always be a commanding officer's greatest enemies in battle.

I was proud of them. The easy part was over. So far we still held the advantage because the Germans had fumbled the ball. Now it become a matter of hanging on to what we'd captured while both sides brought in their reserves. Ours were still coming ashore as fast as ships could bring them from England; theirs were racing to reach the cost. But even matching the Germans division for division, man for man, they still held an enormous advantage: experienced front-line leaders.

Our superiority lay in ships, aircraft, weapons and supplies. But in war that's not enough because in the end it all comes down to a few men at the front who do the actual fighting and the even fewer who lead them. Our front-line leaders -- myself included -- from sergeants through to divisional generals were greenhorns. Our battle experiences for the most part consisted of war games played along the English coast or on the moors and downs. Our instructors were professionals who'd seen action in the First War or learned their trade in North Africa, Sicily and Italy. We could listen and try following their advice. Yet battle conditions are never quite what one expects. A senior officer might get top marks on exercises leading his troops at the divisional, brigade or regimental level yet wind up as a disaster when it came to the real thing. During those first days in Normandy our troops fought superbly but their leaders left a hell of a lot to be desired.

Just beyond Buron we ran into a heavy mortar barrage. Our tanks deployed and started firing at Authie while the men on foot spread out and worked their way forward trying to keep low and under cover. The German tanks were dug into a "V" formation directly in front of us along either side of the road with only their gun turrets sticking out. Behind them, on higher ground, were their anti-tank gunners. We had walked into a beautifully laid trap. Within minutes most of our tanks had been knocked out. Everything happened so fast that the crews never had a chance. The Shermans went up like torches… explosions, fire, smoke and screaming men. The bulk of A and C Companies were either wiped out or captured.


Source:
Tony Foster
Meeting of Generals
Authors Choice Press, Lincoln 1986
ISBN 0-595-13750-4
pages 309-311

Last edited by Crewman; 11-05-05 at 22:06.
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Old 07-06-06, 03:00
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Default St Contest

Since tomorrow is the 7th of June, I thought that I should add some more detail to this thread. It concerns the action at St. Contest and the first tank kill by Radley-Walters who was the 2IC of “C” Sqn of the Sherbrooke Fusiliers. The following is from “Rad’s War: A Biographical Study of Sydney Valpy Radley-Walters from Mobilization to the end of the Normandy Campaign 1944” by Lawrence James Zaporzan.

“At that time we were nose to tail right in the centre of Buron...Bud Walsh pulled out two troops led by Naron Boyd and McLean and he sent them forward toward Authie. They got up beside B Squadron and were soon in the fight. Then Mel called again and asked for two more troops. So Elliot Spaford and Thompson backed up their troops out of town and went west around Buron toward Authie into the fight following much the same route as the other two troops. All that was left of C Squadron was three tanks; the OC, Bud Walsh. the 2IC [Captain] Rad-Walters, and the rear link [Lieutenant] Hector Beldon. The Germans were having some success and started pushing our troops back. [Lieutenant-Colonel] Mel Gordon became concerned about the left flank so he ordered C Squadron to St-Contest to block the German advance so the remainder of our force would not be cut off. He said. "Take the Squadron and go on up to St-Contest," but by then there was only the Squadron Headquarters left. So I asked him, "Can I have some of my sub-units sent back to me?" The Colonel just repeated his orders. "Enemy armour breaking through on the left. Take your Squadron to meet them." I looked around and I had no squadron, only the three of us. so we turned and went to a field outside of St-Contest on some high ground into a big grove of apple trees. We got the tanks into the orchard and we had a damn good position because our right was covered by the town of St-Contest. We saw the German infantry advancing on foot towards Buron and we fired at them with our machine guns. Then we saw that they had eight Mark IV tanks with them with their flank turned to us as they advanced on Buron.

“Rad and the Squadron headquarters were soon in the fight. They fired on the infantry and engaged the German tanks.

“By the end of our first engagement. Hector Beldon claimed two, I claimed one and Bud Walsh got one. The patter that went on! Bud Walsh said, "Did you see that? Yes!! What range was it at?" I think that we first saw...[the tanks]...at about 1000 yards. We fired but we were too far away. With the 75mm it was pointless to fire until they were 600 or 700 yards away from you. But the German tanks kept moving and never stopped until we knocked them out. There were two Mark IVs a couple of hundred yards apart. Hec Beldon said, "I'll take the right one, and you take the left one." We both fired and I think I fired three rounds. And then it started to burn. Bud told us to move back and take a better position in the orchard. I pulled back with Bud, but we left Hector out there. He was awfully mad because we left him out there 200 or 300 yards by himself!

“Major Walsh finally ordered us to move back towards Les Buissons because it looked like a route. On the way, Major Walsh's tank broke down and I picked him and his crew up. As I passed through D Company and I will always remember a German soldier who was bent over a trench with a commando knife in his back. In the trench beside him was a sergeant from the North Novas, and as I went by him he smiled and gave me the victory sign.”

This is from Hubert Meyer’s ‘the History of the 12. SS-Panzerdivision Hitlerjugend”

(p43) “After the III./25 and the Panzers of 5. and 6. Kompanie had captured Authie and were advancing further on Buron, the II./ 25 of Sturmbannfuhrer Scappini and the 7. Panzerkompanie joined the attack. The line-up was: to the right the 7. Kompanie under Obersturmfuhrer (1st It.) Heinz Schrott, to its left the 5. under Hauptsturmfuhrer (capt.) Kreilein, and staggered to the left rear the 6. Kompanie under Hauptsturmfuhrer Dr. Thirey. The 8. (heavy) Kompanie, led by Hauptsturmfuhrer Breinlich, had not yet arrived. The Panzers under the command of Hauptsturmfuhrer Bracker followed close behind in a wide wedge formation. St. Contest was captured without significant difficulties. Sturmbannfuhrer Scappini was at the point platoon of the 7. Kompanie, together with its commander, his adjutant, Obersturmfuhrer Franz Xaver Pfeffer, and the battalion physician, Dr. Sedlacek. Scappini ordered a short halt so that the companies to the left rear could catch up. While the staff was reconnoitering in the terrain, they were surprised by three advancing Canadian tanks. The staff took cover immediately, but they had obviously been already spotted. They came under heavy fire from the tank guns. Sturmbannfuhrer Scappini received a fatal wound. The regimental commander, who had come forward by motorcycle to determine the situation, ordered Obersturmfuhrer Heinz Schrott to take over command of the battalion. Obersturmfuhrer Kurt Havemeister took over from him. The Panzers of 7. Kompanie forced the three tanks to retreat. The battalion advanced further and was able to take Malon and Galmanche without encountering serious resistance, bothered only by artillery fire.”

(p45) “The II. /25, in action to their right, had 21 dead, among them Sturmbannfuhrer Hans Scappini, 38 wounded and 5 missing. The 7. Panzerkompanie, which attacked there, counted 2 dead soldiers, 2 wounded officers, 1 wounded NCO and 2 wounded soldiers. 3 Panzer IVs were probably total losses.”
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Old 24-07-06, 03:58
asbell asbell is offline
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hi; my father sterling robert bell cpl. was with 13 platoon, c company. nnsh. is john macgillvary related to any of the macgillvarys in the nnsh. thanks.
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Old 26-07-06, 05:23
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Quote:
Originally posted by asbell
hi; my father sterling robert bell cpl. was with 13 platoon, c company. nnsh. is john macgillvary related to any of the macgillvarys in the nnsh. thanks.
I have no ties to the NNSH or to Nova Scotia for that matter. My father was in the RCAF and spent the war in Summerside PEI.
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Old 21-06-09, 03:26
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Default No Retreating Footsteps

In case you fellows are interested,you can get a copy of this fine book through the armouries and museum in Amherst,Nova Scotia.
I just came back from France and the 65th Anninversary celebrations,as well as retracing the footsteps of two uncles who landed with the North Novies. One went straight through to Germany,the other died just south of Caen in a place called Tilly La Campaigne. He is buried at Brettville Sur Leize Canadian War Cemetary,a beautifully kept cemetary indeed.
I also visited Authie,and like many buildings in Normandy,there are still shellfire holes in many buildings,but one place in particular was a church graveyard where it seemed you could actually see where a firefight took place. There were shell/bullet holes (as well as bullets!) in the church as well as the centuries old gravemarkers...unbelievable.This is where my two uncles passed through...very emotional and thought provoking.
I will also be doing a mini documentary on the North Novies as well as a doc from my family perspective.If any of you know of North Novies who would like to participate in such a documentary,please email me at;
[email]acvetvoice@gmail.com

Cheers!

Last edited by Cammy; 07-11-11 at 05:33. Reason: add info
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Old 22-06-09, 12:48
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there are some nnsh veterns here will contact them and ask if they are interrested in helping with the project. will e-mail info.
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Old 22-06-09, 18:26
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Default North Novies

I look forward to your email.Please let them know that two of my uncles (both from Cape Breton)fought with the North Novies.

-Ernie Hill,Rifleman...Pt.Edward (killed at Tilly La Campaigne on July 25th,1944)
-Perley Cameron,Bren Gun driver.... Sydney

Cheers!
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Old 07-11-11, 04:23
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Here is a German film showing the aftermath of the fighting on 7 June 1944

http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=54630
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Old 07-11-11, 05:34
Cammy Cammy is offline
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Great site.I need to find archived video,thismay be one of the places to get it.
Cheers!
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Old 07-11-11, 06:15
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Default North Novas

Great site
Jeff
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Old 08-11-11, 00:23
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most interesting,a lot of info. amazing what still can be found.
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