D-Day 70 - A Blow By Blow Account on Twitter....Part II (D+1)
Following on from the previous page, what follows here are the tweets concerning the day following D-Day; 7th June 1944, when the 1st Battalion were consolidating the bunker complex codenamed 'Hillman' before being moved on to fight later that day, in the area around Le Mesnil wood.
We hope you enjoy reading it.
7.6.44 - 03.00 - the men of 1/Suffolk are woken up and Stand-to in case of a German counter attack. Fortunately this doesn't come.
7.6.44 - The men have been reunited with their Haversacks which were dumped at the Assembly Area the previous day. Their Coy carriers bring them up.
7.6.44 - Word spreads that the ship bringing RQMS Tolley, along with Battalion Transport, was sunk on the crossing the previous day...
7.6.44 - All the men's Packs containing their greatcoats, spare shirt, spare pants, etc are now on the bottom of the channel...
7.6.44 - It will be many weeks before replacements arrive. Luckily the nights are not too cold.
7.6.44 - Pte Charlie Deller suddenly remembers the lucky charm he found amidst the chaos on the beach the previous day...
7.6.44 - ...He pulls the doll out of his trouser pocket & has a good look at it.
7.6.44 - He has no idea that it will still be giving him luck 70 years later.
7.6.44 - 3" Mortar Platoon. Sgt John Fenn is handed tea by his Carrier driver while cooking breakfast. The carrier is being checked over by his crew.
7.6.44 - Morale is still very high in B Coy after the previous days' capture of Morris with no shots being fired.
7.6.44 - B Coy. Pte Stan Catchpole repacks his mess tins & reflects on how different it could have been if the Morris garrison were hardened troops.
7.6.44 - In the Carrier Platoon Big Bill Jacobs reflects that he has been in France for 24 hours & still not met any French girls yet.
7.6.44 - Pioneers Alec Bailey & Arthur Blizzard explore some of the bunkers at Hillman. They enter a large room scattered with German stock grenades.
7.6.44 - There is a table in the room with a grey blanket on it & on the blanket is a Sten Gun. Bailey is still unarmed after CSM Leatherland took...
7.6.44 - ...his Sten the previous day. He picks up the Sten & sees the spot of red paint on the barrel; it's Captain Ryley's. the Germans must...
7.6.44 - Have recovered it when Ryley was killed. He doesn't know it yet, but Bailey will keep the weapon until the end of the war.
7.6.44 - Bailey & Blizzard check for booby traps but find none. Blizzard souvenirs an Iron Cross. The room is large and quite dark...
7.6.44 - They explore further and find a large steel door with a big wheel lock holding it firmly shut like a bank vault. They can't open it.
7.6.44 - They give up on the door when they spot a large stock of whiskey and brandy. They select a bottle of Martel brandy & 2 bottles of wine.
7.6.44 - They share them with the Chaplain, Hugh Woodhall & his driver, Pte Sid Purse. The next job is burying the dead.
7.6.44 - Once they have pulled a German corpse out of a slit trench Bailey & Blizzard go back to try the locked steel door again. It still won't move
On their way out they disturb a big old grey cat. They are sure it wasn't there earlier.
A Coy. Radio op Frank Varley has had a comfortable night asleep on top of Hillman. He has checked his No.18 wireless & tucks into breakfast.
7.6.44 - Meanwhile the burial party have started work. They recover the two Officers & five ORs killed during the fight for Hillman & bury them first.
7.6.44 - Chaplain Woodhall goes through their pockets & removes personal effects to send home to their families. Snipers are still active but the...
7.6.44 - Burial party is not fired upon. After the Suffolk men have been laid to rest they start on the Germans. There are quite a few of them.
7.6.44 - Bailey comes across a senior German Officer with shiny boots & lots of braid on his tunic. He has been decapitated & his brains lay a...
7.6.44 - short distance from him. Alec bailey scoops them up with his small entrenching tool & places them back before he buries him.
7.6.44 - Frank Varley suddenly sees two Germans pop up of the ground almost next to him. He makes a grab for his rifle but is pushed out of the...
7.6.44 - way by a Corporal who dashes over to capture them. It is a German private & an Officer. They are led off to Btn HQ. a few moments later...
7.6.44 - the Cpl returns with the German soldier. They disappear under ground and a few moments later they return with over 60 German soldiers .
7.6.44 - Among them is Col Krug, the area Commander, dressed immaculately. Frank Varley has spent the night sleeping a few feet away from them.
7.6.44 - The Germans are searched & marched away. Varley & other men of A Coy start repacking their kit when, a few moments later, a sniper starts...
7.6.44 - Taking pot shots at them. They all dive for cover & one of Frank's mates spots the sniper in the Church tower at Colleville. C Coy must...
7.6.44 - ...have missed him the previous day.
7.6.44 - Within moments they are all blazing away at the Church tower with rifles & Brens.
7.6.44 - A Sherman Firefly of C Sqn 13/18H pulls up & the commander yells to Varley, "What's the problem?" "Sniper in the Church tower, Sir".
7.6.44 - "We'll soon deal with that", says the tank commander. The barrel of the Firefly swings round & 2 rounds are sent straight through the tower.
7.6.44 - A few moments later, two Germans, covered in dust, emerge from the tower and are taken prisoner.
7.6.44 - At midday C Coy moves off to relieve 2/R.Warwicks at the Benouville bridges.
7.6.44 - Later the first reinforcements come up to replace 1/Suffolk casualties. Capt Eric Lummis replaces Ryley as OC A Coy. Frank Varley is with...
7.6.44 - Lummis when a sniper's bullet smashes into his wrist shortly afterwards & Lummis is evacuated.
7.6.44 - The Battalion moves off across the Periers ridge to Cazelle & Mathieu where they will stay for the next two weeks when 1/Suffolk will have...
7.6.44 - ...to capture the Chateau de la Londe on 28.6.44.