1765 – 52nd – Embarked at Cork for North America.
1915 - 1st Bn Oxf & Bucks LI.- reached Amara;
1919 –1st Bn, OXF & BUCKS LI – NORTH RUSSIA.
BERESNIK UST VAGA
1230 - Regiment and 239 T.M.B. embarked on two barges and proceeded to UST VAGA.
1630 - Disembarked UST VAGA. Regtl. H.Q. C Coy. and ½ 239 T.M.B. moved into billets.
C Coy. took over defences UST VAGA.
2330 - A Coy marched to Left Bank road to take over defences Left Bank VAGA.
1944 – 2nd (Airborne) Bn Oxf & Bucks LI
0015hrs - Coup-de-main force of Letter D Company and 2 Platoons of Letter B Company 2nd Bn Oxf & Bucks LI land in gliders and seize two vital bridges on the allied eastern flank. PEGASUS BRIDGE and HORSA BRIDGE.
2100hrs - Remainder of 2nd Bn, Oxf & Bucks LI land by glider and moved into the bridgehead.
(2Oxf & Bucks-War Diary Appendix A)
Monday 5th June 1944 an Assault Party consisting of letter 'D' Coy and 2 Plns 'B' Coy under command of Major R.J. Howard, took off in 6 Gliders from Tarrant Rushton Airfield. They were the first troops to leave England for the invasion of the continent and had a coup de main task of capturing two vital Bridges intact, namely the Bridges over the Caen Canal and River Orne at Benouville and Ranville respectively. Three gliders were briefed to land within 50 yds of each Bridge speed and dash on the part of the attacking troops was considered sufficient to overcome the German garrison of 50.
At 0015 hrs. the first glider crash-landed within 20x of Benouville Bridge it contained No.25 Platoon, commanded by Lt H.D. Brotheridge, and the Company Commander. According to plan they immediately attacked and crossed the Bridge while they took on the defences, the Sappers who accompanied the party cut wires and removed charges. Lt Brotheridge was unfortunately shot while crossing the Bridge and died two hours later, he gave a gallant display of brilliant leadership.
The 2nd Glider, 24 Platoon. commanded by Lt. D.J. Wood touched down a minute after 25, with 14 Platoon commanded by Lt. R.A.A. Smith ½ minute later. While we took on the inner defences, 14 were ordered to reinforce 25 and start to form a small bridgehead to meet the first expected counter-attack. Both the Platoon Commander and the Pln. Sgt. of 24 Pln. were wounded in the initial assault, subsequent command falling on Cpl. Godbold. On the Ranville Bridge only two gliders had arrived, 17 Pln. under Lt. D.B. Fox and 23 under Lt. H.J. Sweeney. Little opposition was met and 17 Pln. soon had full control of the Bridge reinforced by 23. Both Bridges were captured intact and consolidation effected after mopping up, within 15 minutes of landing.
The defence of the Bridges until our relief arrived, was expected to be a difficult task, within an hour some two or three tanks approached the Bridges from the WEST, the first tank was put out of action by a well aimed bomb from a PIAT fired by 17 Pln. this Platoon was brought over from the River Bridge to form part of the bridgehead on the WEST bank. Our relief, 7th Bn. Parachute Regt. (Somerset Lt. Infty) reached us 3 hours after our landing, 2 hours later than expected. Being relieved by the Somerset made the Bridge operation a Light Infantry show. Our first relief was intended to be 'C' Coy 7th Para Bn. commanded by Major R.J.H. Bartlett of the Regiment, unfortunately his Company were dropped dispersed and unable to reach us as soon as expected. Soon after 1st light a Gun Boat moved up the Canal from the sea and shot HQ 7 Para Bn. another well aimed PIAT bomb put this out of action. The assault force was still defending the Bridges when the Regimen landed and crossed the Bridges at 2300 hrs.
The missing glider, 22 Platoon. under Lt. C.R. Hooper with the Company 2nd in Command Captain B.C.E. Priday, landed near a Bridge on the River DIVES and had a lively fight with the Boche defending. Having discovered where they were, they set out and joined the Regiment at Ranville at 0230 hrs. 8/6/44.
Total casualties 1 officer 3 O.R's killed, 2 Offrs 15 O.R's wounded, 2 O.R's missing
(2Oxf & Bucks LI-War Diary)
The Regiment less Bridge Assault Party of Letter "D" Coy and 2 Plns of "B" Coy, took off from Harwell and Keevil Airfields at 1840 hrs and 1910 hrs respectively. The trip was rather bumpy over land but all became very calm over the sea.
At approx 2055 hrs we approached the French coast and could see a large fleet of ships standing off shore and occasional bursts of fire coming from their guns. It was very easy to pick out the River and Canal below and ahead of us and we knew that there had been no mistake in navigation. All gliders except four landed on or somewhere near the L.Z. although in most cases crash landings occurred and many collisions took place. A certain amount of flak as gliders ran in added to the many difficulties of the Glider Pilots who in the majority of cases did magnificently. There was a certain amount of firing on the LZ and some snipers still seemed to be holding out in the area of the bridges at BENOUVILLE. After some delay, due to the fact that some gliders landed rather along way south and also some were very badly smashed which made unloading difficult, the Regt formed up in the area of Road Junction 098754 at Le Port.
2215 - The Regiment began to move forward to cross the bridges to the pre-arranged concentration area at 108744. At this time four glider loads had failed to land, comprising Bn HQ. No.5, 1 Rifle Platoon 'B' Coy, ½ 'B' Coy HQ, 1 Mortar Pl glider. A few people had been hurt in crash landings including the Commanding Officer who managed to carry on and the Loading Officer who had to be evacuated. Major Howard commanding the Bridge Assault Force reported to the Commanding Officer and said that the route to the concentration area was clear. Despite the darkness of the night the Regiment moved quickly into the concentration area and a temporary HQ was set up at 109744.
2300 - The Commanding Officer met the Brigade Commander 6 Airlanding Brigade on the bridge at BENOUVILLE and was taken forward to the area of the Church at RANVILLE 116734. The Commanding Officer received orders to move forward into the area of the 13 Parachute Bn at RANVILLE with intention of occupying HEROUVILLETTE 122724 as soon as possible and then to move on to occupy ESCOVILLE as was originally intended.
1944 – 1st Buckinghamshire Battalion – SWORD BEACH - NORMANDY
Elements of 1st Bucks Bn land with the first tide in Normandy with remainder of battalion arriving on the second.
0700hrs The second-tide convoy sailed. (H hour was at 0725 hrs)
1900 hrs the convoy reached a position approximately one mile off the Normandy coast opposite La Breche, and received a signal from the shore to anchor.
There appeared to be remarkably little activity ashore. Some beach limit signs had been erected and bulldozers could be seen at work with small groups of men. Otherwise the beach appeared deserted. There was no sign of the balloons or of the windsocks which during training in Scotland had been used to mark the beach exits. Clouds of smoke were rising inland from burning woods, and several of the houses on the coast were also burning fiercely.
The most welcome feature was the absence of any fire from the heavy guns at Le Havre and there appeared no likelihood of Plan B or Plan C being put into operation. The anchorage was crowded with craft, among which was H.M.S. Largs, the well-known headquarters ship of Force S and the 3rd Division.
After lying at anchor for some thirty minutes the landing craft, infantry, were signalled to run in. This they did very badly. Some beached too far to the west, grounding in water too deep for disembarkation; others lost their ramps, which were lowered prematurely while the ships were still under way, throwing the men, crowded on board, into the sea. Those landing craft, infantry, which had beached in deep water kedged off and made another run in and disembarkation began. But the water was still deep—as deep as six feet in some places.
There were casualties in consequence, in spite of Mae Wests being worn.
As men struggled ashore in a moderate surf a German plane flew down the beach, dropping a small bomb which caused some casualties. It made off pursued by intense anti-aircraft fire.
Lieutenant-Colonel Sale at once reported to beach sub-area command post which had been established on Queen/Red, and was there ordered by Colonel Montgomery to take command of both beach groups forthwith. The sub-area commander confirmed the information supplied by Major Carse, and added that unloading into sector dumps was proceeding; but it was obvious that until the strong-point at Lion was captured the beach maintenance area could not be used, and an alternative plan had to be made before the large quantity of stores and the flood of men and vehicles arrived on D plus 1.
To give time for a complete reconnaissance called an order group for the following morning (D plus 1).
After a hasty reconnaissance the commanding officer met his own “0” group at the prearranged time and place and explained the situation. The carefully rehearsed drill was now impracticable and for the moment improvisation was imperative. Commanders would as soon as possible get their commands together and would tie up with their opposite numbers in No. 5 Beach Group. The beach companies would prepare to carry out their allotted task in opening fresh beaches to the east; petrol, supplies and ordnance would double-bank with No. 5 Beach Group installations in the sector stores dumps; the field company, provost and R.E.M.E. would temporarily come under command of the opposite number in No. 5 Beach Group.
C and D Company commanders were ordered to form protective flanks to the east and west respectively, the former to cover the lock gates at Ouistreham and the latter to guard against the threat of any attempted break-out from the Lion strong-point.
As troops could not be deployed to intended positions in the beach maintenance area, there was a good deal of disorganisation, but, following the commanding officer’s order group and during the night, commanders collected most of their men successfully in temporary assembly areas. Snipers were still reported to be lurking in buildings overlooking the beach to our right, and as night fell a destroyer was firing Oerlikon shells into these houses, which blazed furiously and lit up the beach with a lurid glare. A tank which for some reason was still on the beach followed suit with tracer. At intervals throughout the night of the 6th/7th June German aircraft attacked the beaches in small numbers, dropping bombs which caused some casualties, but the raiders were driven off by heavy anti-aircraft fire from the shore and ships.
As the exact position was not known by most of No. 6 Beach Group, who saw only a disorganised beach and a failure to carry out the plan given at the briefing, an uneasy night was spent.