To mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the Friends decided to try something a little different to remember the actions of the 1st Battalion in 1944. Using the medium of Twitter, we posted, almost minute by minute, the rolling story of the Battalion. From it's being wired into its camp at Hordean, to the final capture of the Hillman bunker on the evening of D-Day, we told their story in 'tweets' over the week leading up to, and on the anniversary of D-Day itself (Friday 6th June 2014). Such was the popularity of this unique running history, which was followed by BBC Radio 2, Chris Evans and Lord Ashcroft, that many people have since asked if it could be made available to be read as a complete narrative. Therefore bowing to popular demand, we have published the tweets here in full, so that the story of 1//Suffolk on D-Day can be read by all. By using many previously unpublished memoirs of private soldiers who where there, coupled with many previously unpublished photographs, it is perhaps the most complete 24-hour history yet written of an individual infantry battalion in the Normandy Campaign. We hope you enjoy reading it.
D - 4 / D - 3 - June 2nd & 3rd 1944
2.6.44 - 1st Battalion the Suffolk Regiment in 8 Brigade, 3rd Division, are securely wired into a holding camp at Horndean near Portsmouth.
2.6.44 - A Coy Radio Operator Frank Varley had visited his sister every weekend. "The weekend I don't come home, you will know we are off"
2.6.44 - Charlie Truman of A Coy visits his wife. He grabs a framed photo of her as he leaves. It will save his life.
3.6.44 - Sgt Jack Fenn watches his Carrier Platoon men waterproofing their own vehicles. If they drown on landing it'll be their own fault.
3.6.44 - Carrier Platoon vehicles are named after Battle Honours. The CO's carrier is 'Minden'. The Anti-Tank Platoon's have Suffolk names.
3.6.44 - Men of D Coy are priming grenades. A Jewish soldier is larking around & drops one with the pin out. His Sgt manages to throw it...
3.6.44 - In B Coy Dunkirk veteran Pte Stan Catchpole contemplates his imminent return to France & wonders if his luck can hold out twice.
3.6.44 - A Coy Pte Jim 'Tich' Hunter cleans his Bren Gun. Tich is a real tearaway Londoner, kicked out of 1/R.Norfolk. He prefers 1/Suffolk.
3.6.44 - Tich Hunter is a real handful and has Officers & NCOs tearing their hair out. Before the week is out he will come into his own.
3.6.44 - OC A Coy Capt Geffrey 'Old Mother' Ryley writes his 'In the event of my death' letter & gives it to his Runner Pte Charlie Truman.
3.6.44 - Pte Richard Harris is pleased to hear that the youngest men in the Btn will be the Reinforcement Company & miss the initial assault.
3.6.44 - Aerial photo of 'Hillman' The bunker complex is covered in crops & invisible from the air. The USAAF miss it.
D - 2 - 4th June 1944
4.6.44 - B Coy. Pte Stan Catchpole & Sgt Vic Vesty. The NCOs are issued with maps & aerial photos of their objective.
4.6.44 - Sgt Jack Fenn's 3" Mortar Section & their Carrier 'Neuve Chapelle' have spent their first night on LCT 296 & are now playing cards.
4.6.44 - Fenn relaxes. His Carrier is freshly painted & waterproofed with wading extensions in place. Now they wait.
4.6.44 - HQ Coy - RQMS Tolley supervises loading the Battalion Transport containing the mens' large packs - greatcoats, spare shirts, etc.
4.6.44 - HQ Coy. Dunkirk veteran Wilf Lanham is not too disappointed to be travelling to France with Battalion transport. It should be safer.
4.6.44 - Mortar Platoon Commander, Lt Steve Hemingway, prepares a list of his Platoon members' next-of-kin.
4.6.44 - Having exhausted his supply of girlfriends in Wales, Scotland & Hampshire, Big Bill Jacobs looks forward to meeting French girls.
4.6.44 - Pte Richard Harris in Reinforcement Coy hears they won't be sailing to Normandy by ship. It'll be LCI all the way for them.
4.6.44 - 1/Suffolk CO Lt Col RE 'Dick' Goodwin is satisfied. The men are highly trained, fighting fit & raring to go.
4.6.44 - Paybooks, Field Dressings & Identity discs have been issued for overseas service.
4.6.44 - A Coy - Cpl George Rayson & his pal Pte Joe Fuller check kit for the umpteenth time. Joe is a 2" mortar man.
4.6.44 - Meanwhile, in Normandy, those who are about to play host to the Allied invasion are still blissfully unaware...
4.6.44 - Oberst Ludwig Krug, commander of 736th Infantry Regiment, whose HQ is at the blockhouse codenamed 'Hillman'
4.6.44 - B Coy Cpl Bill Nichols learns the majority are crossing in ships but he will be in for a rough trip in a LCI .
4.6.44 - Aboard LCT 296, riding at anchor at Tilbury, Sgt Fenn checks his Carrier's loading list. It was a tight fit.
4.6.44 - OC C Coy Maj Charlie Boycott, father of Rosie Boycott, briefs his Platoon Commanders. They will have the job of clearing Colleville.
4.6.44 - B Coy. Pte Stan Catchpole & Sgt Vic Vesty. The NCOs are issued with maps & aerial photos of their objective.
4.6.44 - B Coy. Pte 'Ab' Allard & Cpl Eddie Byatt. Byatt packs maps & a panorama of Queen Red in his gas mask case.
4.6.44 - The men have been issued with 200 French Francs each. For the first time they now know where they are going.
4.6.44 - C Coy. Capt J.S. Coppock marches the 4 Officers & 90 men to be 'Left Out of the Battle' to the embarkation point.
4.6.44 - 1/Suffolk march out of camp under an arch bearing the legend 'Good Luck & God Speed' cheered on by those staying behind.
4.6.44 - A Coy. Radio Operator Frank Varley & most of the Btn were driven off to their embarkation point hidden in the back of 3 ton lorries.
4.6.44 - The men march past Naval Barracks. WRNS in various states of undress are leaning out of windows cheering. It's a popular send off!
4.6.44 - HQ Coy Driver Pte Tom Benham is happy to be underway; "I don't think any of us could have taken any more ENSA concert parties"...
4.6.44 - OC Carrier Platoon, Captain Ken Mayhew, is pleased that four years of training can now be put into practice.
4.6.44 - Dunkirk veteran Wilf 'Dushy' Lanham boards ship for France but will he make it?
4.6.44 - The whole Battalion are now aboard: A&C Coys on LSI Empire Broadsword, B&D Coys on LSI Empire Battle Axe. Half HQ Coy on each...
4.6.44 - Anti-Tank, Mortar & Carrier Platoons spread over three LCTs. Medical Officer's truck, 1 Ambulance and 3 ton truck with QM on a LST.
4.6.44 - Loading was suspended during the day as the weather was bad and a gale was blowing up but all was ready for the invasion on the 5th.
4.6.44 - Capt Charlie Boycott: Southampton Water was a fine sight From Broadsword we were able to see the whole array.
D - 1 - 5th June 1944
5.6.44 - The invasion of France should have been well underway but bad weather has caused a 24 hour delay. The men entertain themselves
5.6.44 - The men are blissfully unaware that at 04.15 Eisenhower had said to his Officers, "OK, let's go". The die is cast for 6th June.
5.6.44 - The men of C Coy amuse themselves by starting a new craze - they all have a Victory V shaved into their hair on top of their heads
5.6.44 - Each Coy is issued a huge quantity of maps - about 5 per man. With kit packed tight it's a struggle to find places to carry them.
5.6.44 - The sea had been rough & choppy overnight. Most men had been seasick & had fancied little more than a cup of tea for breakfast
5.6.44 - Pioneer Alec Bailey hands Capt Geff Ryley's Sten Gun back to him after a final check over. The Sten barrel has a red spot on it
5.6.44 - Pioneer Pte Alec Bailey hears the ships engines begin to wake up & sway. The LSIs weigh anchor and sail slowly down the Solent.
5.6.44 - OC HQ Coy Capt Nat Breach picks 3 x ORs who will join him as the Unit Landing Officer, in the first wave
5.6.44 - Most men are seasick. Many have been sick so many times they have nothing left to bring up. The 3 sick bags each were not enough
5.6.44 - The men blacken their faces & hands, take sea sickness pills & eat. Pioneer Sergeant Blizzard puts his chocolate inside his tin hat
5.6.44 - Reinforcement Coy. Pte Richard Harris is crossing in the LCA. Sleep impossible as it pitches & rolls. The stench is diesel & vomit
5.6.44 - Everyone knows that Reveille will be at 03.30 on the 6th. Those who can settle down on top of ration crates snatch some sleep
5.6.44 - B Coy. Pte Stan Gardner is on the LSI Empire Battle Axe. Most of his mates have gambled away their Sterling & most of their Francs
5.6.44 - As the Empire Broadsword passes the boom defences Padre Woodhall says prayers over the tannoy.
5.6.44 - B Coy. Cpl Bill Nichols gives a bollocking to one of his Section who has removed his lifebelt. He might be grateful for it later
5.6.44 - B Coy. Although no one expects to sleep most drop off after Lights Out. A running tap in a washroom floods Stan Gardner's mess deck
5.6.44 - A Coy. Pte Frank Varley & his mates are on deck. They are apprehensive but have waited 4 years for this moment. Adrenaline pumping
5.6.44 - Lt Tooley, commanding No.2 Platoon, A Coy, speaks to those of his men who are still awake. Morale is high.
5.6.44 - Btn HQ. Adjutant Capt Hugh Merriam writes up the Btn War Diary for 5th June. Tomorrow's entry will be longer
5.6.44 - Pte Charlie Deller is wishing he had a good luck charm. He doesn't have a premonition of his own death but he'd like a helping hand
5.6.44 - A Coy. CSM Leatherland is an old soldier with years of experience. He has a final chat with Capt Ryley and then gets his head down
5.6.44 - OC Reinforcement Coy, Capt Eric Lummis has 3 Canadian 'Canloan' Officers in his company: Capt Brown, Lt Buchanan & Lt Midwinter
5.6.44 - OC D Coy, Maj Phillip Papillon, is satisfied his men are all prepared and settles down for a few hours sleep
5.6.44 - Most of 1/Suffolk are asleep.
5.6.44 - The vast armada sails through the night as minutes tick away.
D-Day - 6th June 1944
6.6.44 - 03.30 - Reveille. 1/Suffolk wakes up after an uncomfortable night sleeping wherever they have managed to find a comfy spot.
6.6.44 - 04.30 - The Merchant Navy rustle up an excellent breakfast: egg & bacon, coffee, white bread, marmalade & plenty of sugar & butter.
6.6.44 - A Coy. Radio Op Pte Frank Varley & his mates are on deck as daylight breaks. A Destroyer they are watching hits a mine & sink.
6.6.44 - On Battle Axe Pte Stan Gardner of B Coy finishes his breakfast, adjusts his kit, loads his rifle & puts it in its waterproof cover.
6.6.44 - A Coy, on the Broadsword, settle down to wait for loading at 05.00. Pte Tich Hunter cleans his spare rounds & reloads his Bren mags.
6.6.44 - At 04.45 the order "Get Dressed" comes over the tannoy. Men pull their equipment on & adjust their webbing one final time.
6.6.44 - At 04.50 the Captain of Battle Axe speaks. He can see the French coast from the Bridge & it's a blazing inferno. "Good Luck lads"
6.6.44 - C Coy are fired up. They all feel they have been waiting for this for long enough. They file up the gangways & onto the boat deck.
6.6.44 - 05.00 - The Btn clamber into their respective LCAs, find their allocated positions & settle down for a rough trip to the beach.
6.6.44 - The LSIs reach their lowering positions and drop anchor. Unit Landing Officer Capt Nat Breach & 3 x ORs are lowered away at 05.50.
6.6.44 The Unit Landing Officer's job is to arrive ahead of the Battalion and recce the exits from the beach to speed up the move inland.
6.6.44 - B Coy. Pte Stan Gardner suddenly hears, "Marines of LCA 23, Lower Away". Winches turn & the LCA bumps down the side into the sea.
6.6.44 - The Pioneers LCA hits the sea but only one hook clears. The LCA jerks upwards & everyone rolls down to one end. The 2nd hook clears.
6.6.44 - OC C Coy Charlie Boycott's LCA 745 is lowered into the sea perfectly at 06.23. As they move away the ship's crew shout, "Good Luck"
6.6.44 - By 06.25 1/Suffolk have been lowered into the sea in 20 x Landing Craft Assaults. The LCAs are in 4 columns behind the two LCIs.
6.6.44 - 1/Suffolk are due to land at 08.30 - an hour after 2/East Yorks & 1/South Lancs
6.6.44 - At last the 20 x LCAs are away.
6.6.44 - It's a long journey - 7 miles to the shore in rough seas. Capt Geff Ryley & Pte Frank Varley are the only two in their LCA not sick.
6.6.44 - The run-in to the shore is about an hour & forty minutes. Maj Boycott looks at the coast through his binoculars & gives a running commentary.
6.6.44 - The men in the LCAs have cocoa and sandwiches for the run-in but most are putting their three fresh sick bags to good use and skip the snack .
6.6.44 - The noise had been a dull rumble in the distance but now it is deafening. RAF & Navy pounding the coast & the first wave are already ashore.
6.6.44 - George Rippon opens a tin of "compo" hoping for biscuits its processed cheese "over the side it went"
6.6.44 - Capt 'Old Mother' Ryley climbs the ladder in his LCA & says, "if anyone wants to see a Battleship in full flight, now's your chance"...
6.6.44 - ...Frank Varley grabs the chance. As he gets to the top of the ladder he is dead level with the stern of HMS Warspite .
6.6.44 - Warspite is firing broadsides - every gun that can is firing toward the beach. The flames appear half a mile long & the firepower is awesome.
6.6.44 - Frank knows he will never see anything like it again as long as he lives...
6.6.44 - LCAs returning from the first landings pass the 1/Suffolk craft. Some indicate a good landing, others not so good. Not going to be a picnic.
6.6.44 - As the beach comes into sight, Maj Boycott peers through a periscope. The scene looks like a film getting in focus. It's the right spot.
6.6.44 - A final check of the map. Landing Craft are on target for 'Queen White' beach.
6.6.44 - As C Coy near the beach, shells from the monitor 'Roberts' fly overhead. One soldier remarks, "Cor, they sound like ruddy council houses"!
6.6.44 - Frank Varley was mesmerised by Warspite but he's suddenly aware of the crescendo of German fire coming from the French coast & ducks down.
6.6.44 - 10 minutes to go. Lt Col Goodwin notes that the Battalion HQ staff are calm. HQ is split between two LCAs in case one gets destroyed.
6.6.44 - The Flotilla Leader signals the LCAs to fan out into line abreast & head rapidly for the beach. One C Coy craft just misses a mine.
6.6.44 - A Coy's LCA grinds to a halt too far from shore. After a couple of trys the Marine skipper yells "This is as far as we go" & lowers the ramp.
6.6.44 - OC A Coy, Capt Geff Ryley turns to his Runner, Charlie Truman, and Radio Operator, Frank Varley; "Good Luck chaps"
6.6.44 - Capt Geff Ryley is the first man off & sinks. Only his helmet is showing like a cartoon character & the men laugh before pulling him up.
6.6.44 - The laughter is only brief...
6.6.44 - The Pioneers' LCA grinds to a halt & everyone scrambles out. Pte Alec Bailey is still struggling to get his 80lb flamethrower on.
6.6.44 - Cpl George Rayson of A Coy slips and breaks his nose on the ramp of the LCA. He staggers ashore covered in blood but only with dented pride.
6.6.44 - B Coy. Pte Stan Gardner splashes through the freezing cold water to the beach. There is a huge explosion behind him - his LCA has been hit.
6.6.44 - Pioneer Pte Alec Bailey struggles with his flamethrower, Sten, 8 x Mags, Grenades & pins and tape for marking routes through minefields.
6.6.44 - Bailey stumbles out of the LCA and goes straight under. Luckily Pte Blacksell saw him & lifts him until they reached shallow water.
6.6.44 - 1/Suffolk have landed on the Sword Beach sub division 'Queen White' bang on time.
6.6.44 - The first casualty is a soldier called Cross who's hit in the leg just in front of Alec Bailey who is, in turn, bowled over by a mortar bomb.
6.6.44 - Pte Charlie Deller stops to catch his breath. Just by his knee he spots a toy doll. He shoves it into his pocket - it's now his lucky charm.
6.6.44 - Enemy guns open up from the right front. Shells whistle overhead & crash among the Beached LCAs.
6.6.44 - One shell lands on the LCA that the CO, Lt Col Dick Goodwin, & half Battalion HQ have just vacated. It's a close shave.
6.6.44 - Col Goodwin's general impression is one of burning vehicles & craft & houses on fire beyond the beach. The smell is explosives & burnt metal.
6.6.44 - Lt Col Goodwin meets the 2i/c of 1/South Lancs. their CO has been killed but they have prepared exits from the beach.
6.6.44 - Pte Alec Bailey reaches a dune & stops to clean sand from his Sten. He accidentally fires a round which just misses Pte Gary Grant's foot.
6.6.44 - Radio Op Frank Varley reaches the sea wall & takes shelter with other men of A Coy. No one is keen to get moving as there is plenty of fire.
6.6.44 - Moments later, CSM Leatherland strolls past with his rifle crooked over his arm. "Are you lot staying there all day?" Men sheepishly follow.
6.6.44 - There is plenty of random incoming fire, but hardly any aimed German fire, on the beach by now; with the exception of a few snipers.
6.6.44 - One man in C Coy is slightly wounded, as is Sgt Ling from Lt Russell's 11 Platoon in D Coy. Ling is wounded in the thigh by a British bullet.
6.6.44 - Meanwhile Wilf Lanham, struggling down the ladder on board ship, gets blown into the water by a German shell. He'll not make the beaches now.
6.6.44 - Forward Observation Officer, Capt Llewellyn, RA, & party are all killed or wounded by a mortar bomb. A serious loss which will impact later.
6.6.44 - Without the FOB it wont be possible to call on fire support from the Royal Navy for the attack on Hillman.
6.6.44 - The 1/Suffolk Assemble Area is a small patch of woodland near Colleville. It's tricky to find as the Germans have cut down all the trees.
6.6.44 - As the men arrive at the Assemble Area they all ditch their gas masks & haversacks so they are unencumbered for the main fighting.
6.6.44 - Six USAAF B17 Flying Fortresses from 94 Bomb Group at Rougham target the bunker complex 'Hillman' but fly too high & drop no bombs.
6.6.44 - 13 x B17s of 447 Bomb Group target the German battery 'Morris'. Only 6 planes drop their bombs on Morris - 72 bombs. Results 'Poor to Good'
6.6.44 - B Coy. Stan Gardner's Platoon come under sniper fire on their way to the Assembly Area but 1/Suffolk snipers deal with the problem.
6.6.44 - Gardner and his mates reach the Assembly Area, ditch Haversacks & gas masks. They lay down for a smoke & munch on biscuits or chocolate.
6.6.44 - The CO, Lt Col Goodwin, gathers his Company Commanders together for a final O Group before assaulting inland.
6.6.44 - By 09.00 the Battalion are ready to move off to take their main objectives of the day...
6.6.44 - Meanwhile Pte Richard Harris is nearing the end of the journey in Reinforcement Coy's LCA. They crossed the whole channel in it & feel rough.
6.6.44 - To Harris the scene on the beach bears no resemblance to the briefing photos. All is smoke and flame but most shellfire is now inland.
6.6.44 - Harris steps over blood-soaked khaki bundles on the beach & hears someone calling, "Help me boys" over & over again. Harris can't stop.
6.6.44 - A Canadian Airborne Officer & five ORs had been dropped in the wrong place. They are pleased to see 1/Suffolk & join D Coy for the morning.
6.6.44 - Btn HQ Radio Op hears the bridges 'Rugger' & 'Cricket' across the Orne are captured. 6th Airborne Div succeeded in spite of the weather.
6.6.44 - Maj Papillon's D Coy, less 2 Platoons, move off south through orchards to a position overlooking the German battery 'Morris' to give support.
6.6.44 - Major Boycott's C Coy move off with a Troop of 13/18 Hussars Shermans under Command. They move SE towards Colleville-Sur-Orne.
6.6.44 - By now Pte Harris & the youngsters of Reinforcement Coy, under Capt Coppock, have reached the Assembly Area where they wait to be called.
6.6.44 - C Coy. Maj Boycott meets Lord Lovat just north of Colleville. Boycott lends Lovat's No.3 Commando 2 tanks to deal with a troublesome mortar.
6.6.44 - The Commandos move off fast, with heavy loads, to relieve 6th Airborne at the Orne bridges. Suddenly a shell lands among the Commandos...
6.6.44 - When the smoke clears the men of C Coy notice one of the killed is wearing a Suffolk Rgt badge on his green beret - Pte Ong, 4 Commando.
6.6.44 - Maj Papillon radios Boycott to tell him that C Sqn, 13/18H are in position & swapping shots with Germans at Hillman. Nothing at Morris yet.
6.6.44 - Boycott radios OC B Coy Maj McCaffrey & tells him it's possible the Germans have abandoned the 4 x 105mm guns at Morris but still to attack.
6.6.44 - ...but to be careful in case the lack of German activity is a trick.
6.6.44 - B Coy move up behind C & off towards Morris. Ptes Stan Catchpole & Stan Gardner wish each other luck. Sgt Vic Vesty grins & cocks his Sten.
6.6.44 - C Coy quickly clear Colleville. Each Platoon & Section know the exact houses they're clearing. It's done very efficiently with no opposition.
6.6.44 - Cpl Fred Ashby is on Point moving through the village. His Section pass the Church & establish a position on the 1st floor of the Mairie.
6.6.44 - Shortly after, the Mayor, M. Lenauld emerges from his shelter with info on Germans & a bottle of calvados. Fred Ashby & his men are grateful.
6.6.44 - B Coy. Maj McCaffrey decides to open up the wire defences at Morris using Bangalore Torpedos. Just as they are set white flags appear...
6.6.44 - The garrison are Poles serving the German Army. All 67 come out with hands up, badly shaken after heavy air raids; pleased to be out of it.
6.6.44 - B Coy explore Morris. Pte Stan Gardner searches bunkers & slit trenches but he finds no hiding Huns. B Coy's job was done with no casualties.
6.6.44 - B Coy. Eddie Byatt finds a room in the Morris bunker stocked with food & French wine. His Section has a slap up meal & collects souvenirs.
6.6.44 - Many B Coy men carry Luger pistols in their belts following the capture of Morris. In Officers' quarters they find the German payroll ..
6.6.44 - B & C Coys have been very lucky. A Coy now prepare for the main task of the day; the assault on the German HQ bunker complex Hillman...
6.6.44 - As A Coy move up towards Hillman they catch German shelling just south of Colleville sustaining some casualties. One Section is knocked out.
6.6.44 - Another Canadian Airborne Officer, dropped in the wrong place, pops up & shows Boycott a spot to observe Hillman in the corn 150 yards away.
6.6.44 - Meanwhile, on the beach, the Anti-Tank, Carrier & 3" Mortar Platoons have landed & the carriers are preparing to move inland...
6.6.44 - High steel wading screens are blown off the carriers with explosive bolts so they are ready for combat.
6.6.44 - Sgt John Fenn's Carrier 'Neuve Chapelle' loses a track as his driver performs a tight turn on the beach. Fenn is not pleased.
6.6.44 - The crew of 'Neuve Chapelle' get the track back on in double quick time. But it's now high tide & there is a huge traffic jam on the beach.
6.6.44 - OC A Coy, Capt Geff Ryley, heads off to recce Hillman. C Coy protects the left flank of A Coy & B Coy the right.
6.6.44 - Maj Papillon's D Coy waits in reserve on the outskirts of Colleville. 2i/c Capt Albert Claxton waits for orders.
6.6.44 - The supporting artillery Battery Commander is now registering his guns on Hillman & Lt Steve Hemingway's 3" mortars are doing the same.
6.6.44 - Just before 13.00 Capt Ryley returns & says he is ready. The attack will start at 13.10. Dead on time artillery HE shells rain down...
6.6.44 - Mortars & tanks of 13/18H do the same. The A Coy breaching platoon, led by Lt Mike Russell, are ready to move forward to the outer wire.
6.6.44 - Smoke is put down to screen them, the HE lifts & the breaching platoon crawl forward through the corn with Bangalore Torpedoes to clear wire.
6.6.44 - The mine clearance party clear a 3' wide lane through the minefield beyond the wire & lay white tape for the troops to follow...
6.6.44 - They reach a 2nd belt of wire & more Bangalore Torpedoes are brought up by a D Coy Platoon. Wire is cleared & A Coy are 50 yds from Hillman.
6.6.44 - A Coy. The 1st assault Platoon move forward through the breach, crawling along a narrow sunken lane. They get within 30yds of the outer wire.
6.6.44 - The Platoon get through the gap & immediately come under heavy MG & rifle fire. The Platoon get into enemy trenches but can move no further.
6.6.44 - The Platoon are pinned down & the Germans have the breach in the wire covered. All movement bringing a burst of MG fire.
6.6.44 - A Coy. Capt Ryley's Runner, Pte Charlie Truman is hit in the chest by MG fire. He is injured, but not as badly as he might have been...
6.6.44 - Truman is saved by a silver picture frame holding his wife's photo he snatched on his last leave. It stops the bullet .
6.6.44 - He gets home safely, his Normandy adventure over.
6.6.44 - Radio Op Frank Varley crawls to the breach with Capt Ryley. Frank is painfully aware that his No.18 wireless set aerial is like a neon sign.
6.6.44 - A Coy. Pte Joe Fuller uses his 2" mortar to good effect, dropping smoke in front of them. The 2nd Platoon make it into the German trenches.
6.6.44 - A Coy Capt Geff Ryley tells Varley to stay put & makes a dash through the breach. Ryley is cut down by MG fire & killed in front of the wire.
6.6.44 - A Coy. Lt Tooley dashes after Ryley and is mortally wounded before reaching the German trenches, as is Cpl Stares.
6.6.44 - Tooley & Stares can't be brought in as the Germans have complete control of the breach.
6.6.44 - Other wounded are brought in and the Stretcher Bearers carry them back to the Regimental Aid Post.
6.6.44 - The radios are not working well but luckily Maj Boycott's Carrier arrives with a No.19 set giving a link to the C Sqn 13/18H network.
6.6.44 - Boycott orders tanks up to support the attack but damaging bunkers below ground level proves tricky.
6.6.44 - Meanwhile 2/R.Norfolk who are due to pass through 1/Suffolk start moving out to the left to bypass Hillman. They come under heavy MG fire.
6.6.44 - 3rd Division Commander Maj Gen Tom Rennie visits Lt Col Goodwin & tells him to capture Hillman before dark.
6.6.44 - The first attack on Hillman had failed. Lt Sandy Powell Commanding 9 Platoon had shown great leadership & courage and was awarded the MC.
6.6.44 - 9 Platoon had even taken a few German prisoners but the objective remained untaken.
6.6.44 - The Sherman Fireflies of 13/18H fire at the steel cupola which is causing most of the trouble. The 17pdr armour-piercing shots bounce off.
6.6.44 - The situation is at stalemate.
6.6.44 - At Btn HQ, Lt Col Dick Goodwin realises it will only be possible to capture Hillman if tanks can get inside the wire with infantry support.
6.6.44 - He decides to have a vehicle gap made & attack again with another bombardment.
6.6.44 - HQ Coy. Signal Officer, Lt Alan Sperling, is impressed by the utter coolness of Goodwin's planning & orders while under continuous fire.
6.6.44 - The 76 Field Regiment, RA, Forward Observation Officer heads off in his tank to deal with an MG post holding up A Coy. The tank hits a mine.
6.6.44 - The FOO returns a few minutes later. His tank is ablaze but he reports he only has a slight headache.
6.6.44 - Brig Cass, commanding 8 Brigade arrives at Btn HQ. Lt Col Goodwin asks him for two flail tanks to clear mines.
6.6.44 - Meanwhile, Pioneer Alec Bailey has scraped a shallow hole for cover near the breach. He was to have tackled a pillbox with his flamethrower.
6.6.44 - Earlier he shouted, "Keep your arse down, Sir" to Ryley just before he was killed. Bailey knows, as a Pioneer, he will be burying the dead.
6.6.44 - A Sqn, Staffs Yeomanry are in reserve nearby. They are ordered forward to assist. The flails arrive after a gap has been cleared of mines.
6.6.44 - The A Sqn Commander was reporting to Dick Goodwin when he gets urgent priority orders to deal with an attack by 21 Panzer Division & leaves.
6.6.44 - He had also seen Pte Thompson killed eight feet in front of him.Thompson's leg had been severed by MG fire. Bailey then withdrew to safety.
6.6.44 - B Coy. Sgt Vic Vesty's Platoon, including Cpl Eddie Byatt & Ptes Stan Catchpole and Ab Allard still can't believe their luck at Morris.
6.6.44 - They drink tea in relative comfort & safety while the men of A Coy bear the brunt of the German defence. They will make up for it on 28.6.44.
6.6.44 - Lt Col Goodwin asks Heal for an update. Heal says he gives 50-50 odds the gap is clear of mines. The A Sqn Staffs Yeo Leader agrees to go.
6.6.44 - In the Anti-Tank Platoon Pte 'Blondie' Goodfield & the crew of the carrier 'Framlingham' dig in against counterattack.
6.6.44 - There is plenty of confusion between Hillman & the beach. Two tanks have hit mines & blocked the track.
6.6.44 - Lt Arthur Heal & L/Cpl Boulton, RE, crawl back to the minefield & start clearing the tank lane. Lt Mike Russells Platoon & a tank cover them.
6.6.44 - A Coy. Cpl George Rayson's nose, broken on the LCA ramp, is still throbbing. He & his Section wait under cover for the next attack.
6.6.44 - Radio Op Frank Varley has a clear view of Heal clearing the mines. He has remained at his post since Ryley was killed, waiting for orders.
6.6.44 - The mines are in four rows at five yard intervals. He reports back to Btn HQ & says it will take an hour to clear - or less with gelignite.
6.6.44 - Heal is an expert on German mines but is puzzled by the first one until he realises it is an obsolete British MkIII left behind at Dunkirk.
6.6.44 - Goodwin tells heal he needs the gap widened to 9'. Heal says the quickest way is to use the flails but sets off to recce the minefield.
6.6.44 - Lt Col Goodwin orders Lt Perry to take over Command of A Coy & calls up the Commander of the attached RE unit, Lt Arthur Heal.
6.6.44 - The 1st tank halts rather than run over a corpse obstructing the way. A Coy's Cpl Lawson tells the tank commander to "get a f*cking move on"
6.6.44 - Goodwin's calls 76 Field Rgt, RA & asks for a repeat of the earlier bombardment. When it lifts the tanks start to go forward.
6.6.44 - The tanks rumble forward & A Coy follow on through the wire, fanning out into shell holes, getting closer to the German positions.
6.6.44 - Even at close range the 17pdr armour-piercing tank shells bounce of the cupola. A Coy are still pinned down; any movement drawing fire.
6.6.44 - 20 yds from the cupola Cpl Lawson & Pte Tich Hunter of 8 Platoon are pinned down. Tich is one of the last unwounded 8 Platoon Bren Gunners.
6.6.44 - Suddenly a lone German runs towards them with his hands in the air in surrender.
6.6.44 - A shot rings out and the German drops dead.
6.6.44 - The second attack is going nowhere. Even the tanks of A Sqn can make no headway. In his shell hole Tich Hunter has had enough.
6.6.44 - Hunter climbs out of his shell hole & advances on the cupola firing his Bren from the hip. The resistance stops & A Coy dash forward.
6.6.44 - Hunter jumps into a deserted trench with a German corpse in the bottom. Cpl Lawson spots a German rifle aimed at Hunter & shouts a warning.
6.6.44 - A bullet grazes the top of Tich Hunter's head & Lawson kills the German. Hunter's war is over but he is awarded an immediate Military Medal.
6.6.44 - When the Citation reaches 8 Brigade the Brigade Commander upgrades it to a much deserved DCM.
6.6.44 - On the other side of Hillman, Pioneers Alec Bailey & Arthur Blizzard blow up another pill box with a 'Beehive' containing 56lb of explosives.
6.6.44 - CSM Leatherland has taken Bailey's Sten while the Pioneers were destroying the pillbox. Bailey is now unarmed.
6.6.44 - Suddenly a shout goes up and all eyes turn towards the coast. The sky is full of Dakotas towing Gliders; reinforcements for the Orne bridges.
6.6.44 - It's a huge morale boost.
6.6.44 - As the Gliders break away the Dakotas bank round and, as they head north across British lines they drop hundreds of tons of supplies.
6.6.44 - The sky is filled with coloured parachutes; different colours for food, ammunition, medical supplies and weapons.
6.6.44 - Btn HQ. Adjutant Capt Hugh Merriam is interviewing a group of German prisoners. They all stare at the sky with their mouths open...
6.6.44 - The German POWs cannot believe that the Allies have so many resources at their disposal.
6.6.44 - Merriam knows in that moment the Allies will win the war. He has no idea how long it will take, but he is certain he is on the winning side.
6.6.44 - A Coy. Pte Frank Varley dumps his No.18 wireless set & opens his packet of sandwiches. As he munches in a post-action haze he is intrigued to see corn stalks around him occasionally disappear.
6.6.44 - It takes a while to realise that stray bullets are cutting the corn all around him. He throws himself on the ground & fumbles for his e-tool.
6.6.44 - He remembers in training a Corporal telling sceptical recruits you can dig very quickly with the small e-tool if someone is shooting at you.
6.6.44 - Varley keeps his head down & falls into a deep sleep.
6.6.44 - Meanwhile men of A Coy with Platoons from C & D Coys continue mopping up. It takes ages as the site is sprawling & the Germans deep inside.
6.6.44 - The Pioneers use more Beehive charges to crack open remaining troublesome positions. All firing ceases around 22.00. Hillman is captured.
6.6.44 - In addition to the casualties amongst the German garrison 50 prisoners are taken.
6.6.44 - Btn HQ. Lt Col Dick Goodwin orders B & D Coys forward to their consolidation positions beyond Hillman.
6.6.44 - A & C Coys move to their consolidation positions and dig in. The Mortar & Anti-Tank Platoons dig in too. Two Carriers had been lost to mines.
6.6.44 - C Sqn 13/18 Hussars withdraws to replenish ammo near 1/Suffolk Btn HQ where they will overnight.
6.6.44 - C Sqn Commander, Maj Sir Delaval Cotter, is not impressed as his Sherman has fallen into the officers' latrine at Hillman & broken a track.
6.6.44 - Just after the men of 1/Sk move off Hillman the Germans shell the complex heavily. Three men are injured when the HQ Office truck is hit.
6.6.44 - Reinforcement Coy. Pte Richard Harris & his mate dig a slit trench; the 3rd one of the day. It will be their home for the night...
6.6.44 - 2 hours sleep in the bottom of the trench, 2 hours on watch until Stand-to at dawn. It will be the pattern for Harris for the next 70 nights.
6.6.44 - CSM Franklin leads men of D Coy to clear a farm in their consolidation area.
6.6.44 - They kill two German snipers in the corn on the way.
6.6.44 - Franklin spots movement in a farmhouse window 250yds away & picks them off.
6.6.44 - Lt Johnny Vaughn's 17 Platoon, D Coy, are ordered to clear the farm buildings.
6.6.44 - They prepare to make a dash over open ground but, as Bren covering fire opens up, Germans start to leave their trenches with their hands up.
6.6.44 - With the farm cleared D Coy OC, Maj Philip Papillon orders his men back. It's a wise move as Germans mortar the empty farm for over an hour.
6.6.44 - 1/Suffolk stood fast from 22.30 to 23.30 when patrolling started throughout the night.
6.6.44 - It had been a long day, starting with Reveille at 03.30 on a rough sea crossing.
6.6.44 - At the peak of their fitness & training 1/Suffolk had achieved all their objectives.
6.6.44 - 10 men had been killed, plus former Suffolk Pte Ong of No.4 Commando, & 25 wounded. Over 200 prisoners had been taken & losses inflicted.
6.6.14 - Remembering:
6.6.14 - Captain RG Ryley
6.6.14 - Lieutenant TJF Tooley
6.6.14 - Pte K Gower
6.6.14 - Cpl E Jones
6.6.14 - Cpl J Jones
6.6.14 - Pte W McCormack
6.6.14 - Pte F Monk
6.6.14 - L/Cpl R Roseman
6.6.14 - Cpl F Stares
6.6.14 - Pte A Thompson
6.6.14 - All killed in action serving with 1/Suffolk on D-Day, 6th June, 1944.
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