249th (Airborne) Field Company RE on D-Day and Battle of Normandy

Discussion in 'Airborne' started by PRADELLES, Jul 9, 2015.

  1. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Xavier,

    That is probably the case. It depends as well on how long after the war Major Ritchie wrote down his recollections. If it was some time later he may not recall some of the finer details. It's interesting what Piper Bill Millen wrote in his account of the route taken after they crossed the Orne Bridge. I believe they followed the lower lane that passed below the big Ferme de L'Ecarde and then into the quarry on their right. You get a different view entirely of what was happening at the time.

    Have we ever discussed the 249 Fld Coy RE men that jumped on Op Tonga? According Lt-Col Lowman RE:

    "The contingency plan was for 7 Parachute Battalion dropping north of Ranville to secure a bridgehead to the west of Benouville and the canal. This would involve ferrying troops across the water gaps and was to be supervised by a detachment of a Sergeant RE and four Sappers dropping with 7 Parachute Battalion."

    I noticed as well they get mentioned in 5 Para Bde OO No.1 in paragraph 8(c):

    8(c) Det (1 offr 4 ORs) 7 Para Bn
    Task (i) To prepare RV for remainder of bn.
    (ii) Block approaches to DZ area from PONT TOURNANT.

    Recce party RE will land with DZ Protective force and this det
    .

    They were part of an advance party of 10 men that jumped from Albemarle CN 7 out of Brize Norton Airfield. It consisted of five 7 Para men whose names are all known and five from 249 Fld Coy. According to Michael P-C:

    "249 R.E. Jumped with 7 Para advance party under the command of a Sgt Lemon, I think 5 men in total. They were to organise the dinghies and a ferry pulley system across the River and Canal. Would like to know more about Sgt Lemon and his men ... Sgt Lemon was in charge of the preparation of the ferry system."

    I couldn't find anything on Sgt. Lemon. Once it was learnt that the bridges were captured intact and crossing the waterways by dinghy and raft was not necessary what became of this party, Were they used in a reconnaissance capacity?

    Regards ....
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2019
  2. PRADELLES

    PRADELLES Well-Known Member

    Hi Cee,
    About Ritchie, I think he changed of position to Le Bas de Ranville :
    "Past Ranville church, with its distinctive detached tower, we went before entering the small hamlet, and individual companies peeled off to occupy their defensive positions. I had carefully memorised the route from the aerial photographs, and had no difficulty in leading George Kelly and his section to the hedge in Major Gerald Ritchie's Company area, and left them there to dig their position. From this point on, there was 400 yards more to go before the planned location of the other section was reached, and we were on our own --- myself and fourteen men."
    Lieutenant Ellis "Dixie" Dean
     
  3. PRADELLES

    PRADELLES Well-Known Member

    Hi,
    When Lovat met the commandos at the Ecardes cross roads , it's exactly what it was planified :
    "LOs
    (b) Lieut WINSTON (45 Royal Marine Commando) will meet his CO on R.ORNE.
    (c) OC B Coy will arrange for - (i) 45 Royal Marine Commando to be met at edge of orchard 124755. (ii) 6 Commando to be met at rd junc 121756."
    9th Parachute Battalion
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2019
  4. PRADELLES

    PRADELLES Well-Known Member

    It's difficult for me to understand that :
    "Junction Points
    by 1 SS and 3 Para Bde. After occupation of high ground LE PLEIN - X rds 140703 contact will be established at the following points:-
    (i) With 6 Commando by 12 Para Bn - rd junc 128753
    (ii) With 6 Commando by 13 Para Bn - X rds 134744
    (iii) With 1 Cdn Para Bn by 13 Para Bn - X rds 125729 and rd junc 124723."
    Brigade Headquarters, 5th Parachute Brigade
     
  5. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Xavier,

    Guy Hudson recently filled me on many of the photos taken by Capt. Leslie Evans AFPU who followed the Commandos from the beaches. With regard the photo attached below he writes:

    "Ecarde crossroads, Evans photographs German prisoners captured by 3 Troop 3 Commando in their attack on the Post Office in Amfreville and escorted by men of 9 Para, who provided fire support for the attack. 3 Troop was the cycle troop of 3 Commando and Stan Scott told me that 3 Troop abandoned their bikes at the Ecarde crossroads and it was those in the photograph (B5060)."

    You would never know it was the Ecarde crossroad (D514/Rue Morice) if you went there today as much has changed. The massive stone wall no longer exists and there is new housing to the right. Most of the tree lines that separated the fields in the area have been removed.

    You can just make out the wall on some period aerials though not very clear. It spanned the entire north side of Rue Morice up to Amfreville. The only remnant I could find is a large stone column still standing, which was probably part of an entry or gate leading into a field. It could be the column barely discernible in the Capt Evans photo further up Morice Ave.

    B5060.jpg Stone Column - View to X Rds.jpg

    As for the map references in the two posts above:

    "45 Royal Marine Commando to be met at edge of orchard 124755" by 9 Para. It falls near an orchard on the south side of Rue Morice up the road towards Amfreville. Not sure if that actually happened as planned. The idea behind "Junction Points" was to ensure the Para Battalions of the 5th and 3rd Brigade linked up and all the ground from the LZ up to the ridge at Amfreville, Breville and Le Mesnils were under complete control of the 6th Airborne. That didn't happen as there were gaps that were only closed in later hard fought battles.

    Regards ...
     
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  6. PRADELLES

    PRADELLES Well-Known Member

    Hi Cee,
    May be here :
    Google map : 49.249414,-0.245249
    An aerial view could help us.
    Regards,
    Xavier
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Dec 14, 2019
  7. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Xavier,

    Yes that is a nice old house just south of the Ecarde crossroads. The cut stone walls that surround it were built in the same style as the taller wall that once ran the length of Morice Ave. Just a guess but the Morice Ave wall was at least twice as tall as the ones around your house. Only a wealthy land owner could build a wall on that scale and I suspect it was part of the Chateau Amfreville estate.

    This aerial from the Pegasus Archive unfortunately doesn't capture the crossroads but the big wall on Morice Ave is evident to the left as it climbs towards Amfreville (where it isn't blurred). Also attached a whimsical drawing of the area from the collection of L/Cpl 'Ken' Emmerson at the CVA. The wall has been drawn in and you can even see the entrance/gate to the field part way up. I suspect the stone column above was left standing as a reminder of the great wall that was once a prominent feature of the area.

    Pic_Rep1SSBde1_high.jpg Drawing by Cpl Williams.jpg

    Regards ..

    Edit: The usual typos and clarifications.
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2019
  8. PRADELLES

    PRADELLES Well-Known Member

    Hi Cee,
    Can I use picture B5060 on Facebook ?
    I know some specialists of the area !
    Regards,
    Xavier
     
  9. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Xavier,

    Yes check it out with others. There is not much info on B5060 at the IWM. Capt. Evans is noted as the photographer. Carl Shilleto in his book "Merville Battery and the Dives Bridges" has the same photo naming the unit as 9 Para with no information on location.

    Carl Shilleto Book.jpg

    Guy informed me that an edition of "After the Battle" gives the location of the photo as Rue du Four-a-Cheux, Ranville. There is a small street named Rue du Four à Chaux in southwest Ranville. "Four à Chaux" translates as lime kiln. There is a big open pit just south of that street which may be connected to the Ciments Calcia plant. Period aerials show no evidence that the plant and and pit existed in 1944.

    However, and this just may be a coincidence, there was a stone quarry at La Basse Ecarde at the time. Not sure if there was lime kiln associated with it? Something that needs to be confirmed but could they have mixed up the two locations.

    What I am convinced of is that there was a notably large wall that ran up the north side of Rue Morice.

    Regards ...

    Edit: quarry
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2019
  10. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Sorry I completely overlooked the description for photo B5060 on the IWM:

    "German POWs are marched along the Rue du Four-à-Chaux in Ranville by troops of 6th Airborne Division, 6 June 1944."

    As well I'll add had a larger better quality image I completely forgot I had.

    B5060-Large.jpg


    Is that a vehicle to the rear or a farm wagon, hard to tell? The sign to bottom right is not very clear unfortunately.

    Regards ...
     
  11. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Xavier,

    On June 6th Sgt Norman Clague shots scenes at the Ecarde Crossroad which is viewable on the IWM site here:

    SCENES IN THE NORMANDY BEACH-HEAD D+1, D+2 (PART 8) [Allocated Title]

    One of the men shown is Pte Durston, 9 Para Battalion, as identified by Neil Barber dealing with a prisoner. They are immediately in front of the Cafe De L'Ecarde now known as Auberge De L'Ecarde, a few changes but much the same.

    Further along are scenes of German prisoners lined up in a court yard. Looks like the same bunch as shown being marched in B5060. Unfortunately B5060 is just too fuzzy for good comparisons. Stan Scott in a video interview at the 1:13 mark mentions the photo and the fact that 9 Para took their bikes which they had dropped by the wall at the crossroads.



    Anyway that is a done deal for me. B5060 shows 9 Para marching German POWs at the Ecarde Crossroad.

    Regards ...
     
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  12. PRADELLES

    PRADELLES Well-Known Member

    Hi the group,
    I research this original aerial view without markins.
    Thank you in avance,
    Xavier P
     

    Attached Files:

  13. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Xavier,

    Are you looking for a date? There doesn't appear to be any evidence of gliders on the LZs so probably taken before June 6th. Also the white area on the east bank at Pegasus Bridge could be an indication of disturbed ground? The Germans were removing buildings and preparing the defences from about March 1944 onwards.

    Here is an edited aerial from the Laurier Collection. It is barely visible but if you zoom in you can just see the footbridge on its stilts. It comes from a series of oblique shots taken during a flyby of the coast in August 1943. Earliest I have found so far of the footbridge.

    Box-0078-16-August-1943-3011.jpg

    Regards ...
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2019
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  14. Airborne44

    Airborne44 Junior Member

    Xavier, I see that your research has progressed ! Chuck, regarding the B5060 photo, it's been a frustration of mine that I haven't been able to find a photo that confirms without doubt that it's the Ecarde crossroads, but like you I'm convinced they are the same group as shown against the wall in the film (and also that Scotty was adamant it was). What I can confirm is that the photo is definitely not the location stated in Ranville. I visited the spot many moons ago and it was nothing like the photo. Will search out one or two photos and post them later.
    Xavier, as I think I mentioned previously, and little has changed my mind when it comes to why the bridge wasn't used, is that the position of the footbridge is very exposed, especially as the land slopes upward on the east bank. The area would have been clearly visible to the German forces that were ultimately encountered in Sallenelles by 45 RM Commando. Add to that another exposed operation in getting across the canal, I think it was a sensible decision by Ries (or whoever) to cancel the idea.
     
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  15. Airborne44

    Airborne44 Junior Member

    I'm finally happy that it's definitely the Ecarde Crossroads ! :)
     

    Attached Files:

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  16. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Hi Neil,

    Yes I think as well that B5060 shows the Ecarde Crossroad and though hardly discernible I believe the big wall on Morice Ave. shows up on the aerial you attached.

    Besides your several books I quite enjoyed your series of videos that you made in collaboration with WW2News (Paul Woodage) and of course your personal site which I will link to here as they cover many of the subjects we touch on in this thread and elsewhere on WW2Talk.

    The Site of Author, Neil Barber
    WW2TV

    Regards ... Chuck
     
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  17. PRADELLES

    PRADELLES Well-Known Member

    Hi Chuck,
    Hi Neil,
    Two 6th Airborne's Generals on this subject, whaou !!

    The footbridge TREACLE was intact but no useable, a section of the 249th made a recce on the daylight just before the gunboats came (sapper RAMSEY report).
    That's a good reason to cancel the initial crossing of the 45 RM...
    For remember :
    "MARS Enemy posn at 114762 NOT captured, 45 RM Commando will cross over by 'CRICKET' and 'RUGGER' "
    Brigade Headquarters, 5th Parachute Brigade

    But, two informations disturbed me :
    1/"0825 - Br at 114762 reported intact. 1 Corps infm. 0915"
    Headquarters, 6th Airborne Division
    Why not, the footbridge was intact but not useable...
    2/"Recce of the footbridge at 114762 was not possible before 1100 hrs owing to snipers who were extremely active in the neighbourhood."
    Headquarters, Royal Engineers
    ????

    Regards,
    Xavier P
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2019
    Airborne44 likes this.
  18. Airborne44

    Airborne44 Junior Member

    Hello Chuck, thanks for your kind words. I'm an admirer too of your work displayed on here. Absolutely superb. Due to mostly personal reasons (and a few others I won't go into !), I haven't been able to contribute much to this site, but then I haven't even been able to do my own work in that time. However, I'm hoping that this will now change, in both cases.
    The videos made by Paul Woodage were a learning curve (for both of us) and were really 'off the cuff' with regard to everything. However, I'm hoping we'll do further ones in the future in which I'll be better prepared and polished !
    Thanks for the plug on the website. Again, time (and I have to admit, disillusionment this year) have prevented me populating it as I'd like, but that will also change in the New Year.
    I wish you a happy and successful New Year.
    Regards,
    Neil.
     
  19. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

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  20. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Xavier,

    Does the Pte Ramsey report mention the route they took down to the footbridge? There was also activity throughout the day at the outpost Lt. Parrish's Platoon was holding close to the Commando ferry site on the canal. There was an exchange of sniper fire which resulted in casualties to both sides. The Germans who docked gunboats at a nearby landing later set them ablaze before abandoning the area. What became of those - sunk, moved? There are vessel-like shapes under water in that area but are on the eastern side of the canal. Or I could be seeing things again.

    Discovered recently that an uncle was a RM Commando and landed at Sword beach early on June 6th. Still seeking the exact unit he was with.

    Regards ...
     

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