D. Day, With the 1st Suffolks. Unpublished Version.

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by swordman, Jul 29, 2009.

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  1. This is the first of two publications to be serialised here; the first is titled "1st Suffolk's on D Day" The second, to follow later, is "1st Suffolk's in Normandy"

    Having seen a great deal of action with this Regiment, (part of the Eighth Brigade. Third British Infantry Division) "Monty's Ironsides" It gives me much satisfaction to be allowed to bring these stories into the public domain.
    Both these works are the intellectual property of the Lummis family.
    I contacted the family through the WW2 archivists. These documents have not been published before. They are valuable first hand accounts, and far too important to rest on a dusty shelf.

    May I first thank most sincerely the Lummis family, for allowing me to serialize Colonel Lummis's First book; "1st Suffolk on D Day"
    To be followed later by the Colonels "1st Suffolk in Normandy"

    Dedicated to all those whose sacrifices gave us all that we enjoy today. Freedom!

    From the Fields of Normandy, I bring back many memories, beneath them, I leave many friends.
    • Excellent Topic Excellent Topic x 2
  2. 1st Suffolk on D Day
    Colonel Eric Lummis.

    Preface 1

    Introduction 3
    Preparation for invasion 4
    The Battalion's task 5
    The crossing and landing 9
    The move inland 11
    The clearing of Colleville 14
    The capture of 'Morris1 15
    The attack on 'Hillman' 17
    The second attack 21
    The next day 26
    Some individual views 27
    1. Those killed and where buried 29
    2. Awards 30
    3. Officers and Warrant Officers 1 Suffolk on 6 June 1944 31
    4. Memorial plaques on bunker in Hillman 33 Maps and illustrations
    Map of beach to 'Hillman' 7
    Air photo 'Morris', 'Hillman' and Colleville - 30 May 1944 13
    Sketch of 'Hillman' 18
    'Hillman' today (1989) 34
    To be Continued.
  3. 1 Suffolks in Normandy used to be available from RHQ R Anglian at Bury St Edmunds. Some very interesting accounts of some hard, scrappy engagements. Very good read, I used to have a copy somewhere but seem to have lost it. If you can post it all here that would be great.
    Colonel Lummis took great issue, quite rightly I think, with a slur apon the btln by Chester Wilmot's book Struggle For Europe (1952) over their slow assault on 'Hillman' on D-Day because they took too few casualties. He puts the story straight I think that the assault was a well prepared and proffessional assault against a prepared position, without armoured support and the lack of casualties was a testiment to the Suffolk's skill rather than lack of flair or urgency.
    Many thanks Swordman, I very much look forward to reading it. Are you still a Suffolk man?
    The idea for this account of the events of D Day came to me as a result of the visit by a large party of survivors of ,1st Bn The... Suffolk Regiment . to Normandy on the 40th anniversary of D Day. For many it was the first time they had been back. It was often a moving occasion as old colleagues were remembered.

    Memories were revived of what had taken place, but after 40 years it was hard to recall exactly what had happened and where. There was a need for some sort of guide to make clearer the events of that day. There were questions, too, about why these events had taken the form they did and why others had not taken place.

    I first was led to look into the number of casualties suffered by 1 Norfolk when trying to by-pass 'Hillman'. All the publications had a figure which turned out to be three times too high. The search for this had taken me to war diaries in the Public Records Office and to other records and publications as well as contacts with various individuals.
    There then came the news about Madame Lenauld from Colleville-Montgomery wanting to make available a piece of 'Hillman' on which to erect a memorial. Through her I came in contact with Tom Bates already interested in D Day events in Colleville as part of his attempts to find out all he could about his namesake Corporal 'Basher' Bates VC of 1 Norfolk. I started in earnest finding out more about what happened on D Day.

    I have depended in the first place on General Dick Goodwin's own account of what took place, written not long after in 1944 and which is largely reproduced in Colonel Nicholson's 'History of The Suffolk Regiment 1928-1946'. These papers were kindly made available to me by Lady Anthea Goodwin. I have also made use of a number of personal accounts which I have been able to see. My thanks go to Major Charles Boycott, Fred Ashby, Robert Lawson, Fred Varley, Captain Harry Elliott and Johnny Vaughan for these accounts. Col 'Kit' Gough only a few months before his death last year wrote me his account of D Day. Major-General Sir Nigel Tapp also made available to me his own accounts as well as giving me a lot of information. Col Sir Delaval Cotter and others of C Sqn 13/18th Hussars and Major Spencer Nairn of A Sqn Staffordshire Yeomanry have all made contributions.
  5. Mike Russell has given me a great deal of help and information, not least in obtaining for me a copy of General Richter's history of 716 Division. Many other old colleagues of 1 Suffolk have added their bit to the story of what took place. I am particularly grateful to Colonel Alan Sperling for looking at my manuscript and making most valuable suggestions for improvement. Arthur Smith with his own researches into Suffolk Regiment history, gave me information about those killed and where they were buried.
    Tom Bates, as already mentioned, has given me a lot of help, as has Madame Lenauld and Jean Brisset from Flers, not unknown to some of 1 Suffolk, for establishing that Ken Mayhew with his carriers was the first into that town in August 1944. Alan Jefferson, whose book 'The Guns of Merville', first gave me an insight into what could be found out from the German side, as well as alerting me to the photographs of 'Morris' in the Imperial War Museum, has inspired me to carry on with research; his book touches on Colleville as the Battery at Merville formed part of the command based there. Norman Scarfe who wrote 'Assault Division' has also been unfailingly helpful.

    My thanks are due to the various organizations who have helped me in preparing this account: Bundesarchiv-Militararchiv, Freiburg; Imperial War Museum, London; Prince Consort Library, Aldershot; Air Photo Library, University of Keele and the Public Record Office, Kew.*
    Eric Lummis Camberley January 1989
    *References: - *The information quoted about air and naval attacks on pages 9, 10 and 15 is to be found in the following files in the Public Record Office, Kew:
    AIR 24/46
    AIR 40/1111,1132
    ADM 199/164
    TBC Swordman
  6. Sapper...... Jock...
    246 Field Company RE. Eighth Brigade with East Yorks, South Lancs, and Suffolks.
    My dearest late friend. Richard Harris submitted some of his material to Colonel Lummis. That was included as you will see.

    Got to the German Border. Wounded twice. Vire. S Mine. Normandy, and again in Holland. Big Bang! Shell? fractured lower spine, and other severe damages.
    This time no way back, my war was done. Severely war disabled.
    Mid Eighties ...Enjoy life to the full.

    I share Colonel Lummis anger at the way the Brigade was accused of being SLOW. Why is it? that people that have never been there. Cast slurs that deminish the sacrifices of the Brave.
  7. I wholeheartedly agree. Same as it ever was. But I read Chester Wilmots otherwise quite good book years ago (I suspect it is lost in the same moving box as Col. Lummis's pamphlet) and he was a BBC reporter who landed on D-Day in a glider with 6 Airborne Div. But obviously still a reporter and couldnt have been present at Hillman.
    Tip of the cap to you anyway sir, glad you came through ok and have enjoyed a full and happy life. I will raise a glass to you and the boys on Minden day this saturday.
  8. A lot has been published about the actions off 1st Bn ..The Suffolk Regiment on D Day 6th June 1944. Some writers were highly critical" yet much of their criticism was based on accounts which were inaccurate, often because not all the facts were known.

    Moreover none of them had actually viewed the ground and the positions held by the Germans. This account is not concerned with the controversies raised. It is intended to be a straightforward record of what took place on 6th June 1944 drawing on accounts from many sources, including the memories of those who took part, from official documents and from German sources.

    Some of the details have not appeared in print before and may thus put a different light on some of the earlier views expressed. Those who read this account can form their own judgement on the leadership displayed, the training and efficiency of the Battalion and its supporting troops and the courage and devotion to duty of those who took part.
    Swordman Brian
  9. 4
    Preparation for -invasion
    For most of the men of 1st Battalion The Suffolk Regiment along with the other units of 3 Division, the invasion of.Normandy was the culmination of months if not years of rigorous training. The Battalion still had a large element of the regular soldiers who had fought in Belgium in 1940 and returned from Dunkirk.

    Training in combined operations was soon to follow, in May 1942. This took place in Scotland on the West coast at Inveraray and Dorlin, on the East coast at Nairn and on the Isle of Wight. The training was intense, often in dangerous seas and icy conditions; sometimes live ammunition was used and casualities occurred; it was rigorous and exacting and it produced as it intended to produce, a physically fit and mentally alert Battalion, and united Brigade. The assault Brigade of 3 British Division was 8 Infantry Brigade. 1 Suffolk's role was that of follow-up battalion whose task was to seize a dominating feature some 2-3000 yards inland.

    In June 1943 Lt Col Dick Goodwin took over command. Though the general plan for the landing had always provided for 1 Suffolk to be the reserve battalion following through the two other assault battalions, it was not until March 1944 that the Commanding Officers of 8 Brigade were given the details of the Brigade plan together with all the information available including air photographs. From this they prepared their own plans for approval by the Divisional Commander Major General Rennie. Details at this stage were not given to Company Commanders though each was told secretly of their objective for training purposes.

    In April the Battalion moved from Nairn to an assembly area near Horndean. Training continued unabated and one more major full scale landing exercise was carried out. During May Company Commanders were first given the Battalion's task by the Commanding Officer and their own individual company's exact role. On 26 May all camps were sealed with barbed wire and placed under armed guard and briefing commenced.

    This was long and thorough and included models of the landing area, enlarged maps and photographs showing beach obstacles, defences and landmarks with wave top views of the run-in. All troops were given the opportunity to see the model and photos. At this stage only a few knew the actual location of the landing area. Maps were marked with bogus names (eg Poland for Caen and Brazil for Colleville sur Orne). Francs and phrasebooks were issued so that there could be little doubt that the destination was France.

    TBC Swordman
  10. Brilliant! Keep up the great work Swordman... this will be a top read, is there anyway it can be put into a word or pdf doc and uploaded somewhere in ARRSE?

    Other great accounts of D-Day are Richard Todd the actors: "Caught in the Act" and two of the best first hand accounts I have read and ones you probably have Swordman are of the Airbourne Forces on D-Day -

    "The Day the Devil's Dropped In" (The 9th Parachute Battalion in Normandy - D-Day to D+6) by Neil Barber


    "The Devil's Own Luck" (Pegasus Bridge to the Baltic 1944-45) by Denis Edwards
  11. In Chester Wilmots book he states that the Divisional commander Maj-Gen Rennie was at fault for telling Col Goodwin he "must capture the strongpoint by dark" see the foonote on page 310
  12. Swordman, I am guessing, but maybe wrong, are you copying and typing this from the original? If so then double thanks for your efforts. There is likely a way it can be scanned and converted into text. Not 100% reliable and often needs a bit of editing but better than typing it all. Either way many thanks but if there is any way we can help then by all means shout.
  13. Yes Colonel Lummise's real life version is an absorbing story, very well written. Thanks for the appreciation, I am sure that the family will be pleased to see the Colonels work well regarded.

    As to posting here. Well this old Veteran will ensure that the text is reproduced here "verbatim" Exactly as was. It deserves no less. I Hope that you all enjoy The Colonels writings.
    As to producing the copy? These 84 year old eyes will peer attentively at the script, and type in my ponderous one fingered style.

    If it serves to remind folk of the sacrifices and the bravery of those men 65 years ago> that will suit me and I hope; please the Colonels family.
    Swordman Brian
  14. well done swordman (brian) looking forward to the next part
  15. The Battalion's task
    3 Division had the task of landing on the extreme Eastern flank of the seaborne landing on 'Queen' 'White' and 'Red' Beaches between Ouistreham on the left and Lion sur Mer on the right. 8 Brigade as the assault Brigade had the task of breaking through the coastal defences and establishing a firm beachhead through which 185 Bde could dash to take the high ground north of Caen and a bridgehead over the River Orne if possible, with 9 Brigade following on the right.

    The two assault battalions of 8 Brigade landing at H Hour (7.30 DBST on Queen Beach) (2nd Bn East Yorkshire Regiment and 1st Battalion South Lancashire Regiment) were to deal with the coastal defences covering the landing beaches, in particular the strongpoint given the name of 'Cod'. They had in support two squadrons of Sherman tanks of the 13/18th Royal Hussars which were constructed so that they could swim ashore and Royal Engineer assault teams to deal with obstacles and clear gaps through minefields. Artillery support came from the divisional artillery firing from their landing craft. Before the landing there was to be heavy naval and air bombardment of defences.

    The follow up companies of 1 S Lanes on the right were given the task of clearing the village of Hermanville and Lion. 2 East Yorks on Queen Red were to pass through the coast defences and take the strongpoint behind Riva Bella and go on to capture the gun position near the water tower by Ouistreham. Thereafter they were to relieve 6th Airborne Div on the bridges over the Orne and Canal.

    1 Suffolk landing an hour later were to push through the coast defences, clear the village of Colleville sur Orne about 2 1/2 kms inland, take the battery of 4 guns just to the west of Colleville known as 'Morris' and then go on to capture the defended headquarters position just to the south west of Colleville on the eastern end of the Periers-sur-le Dan feature overlooking the beaches; this position was known as 'Hillman'. The Battalion had in support C Squadron of the 13/18th Royal Hussars, two batteries from 76 and 33 Field Regiments Royal Artillery, a detachment of 246 Field Company Royal Engineers, a machine gun platoon of 2nd Bn The Middlesex Regiment and a detachment of 8 Field Ambulance. Both 'Morris' and 'Hillman' were to be bombed prior to H Hr from the air and naval support was to be found by a 6 in cruiser and a destroyer. After clearing the defended positions the Battalion was to consolidate on the Periers-sur-le Dan feature.

    The Battalion plan was divided into five phases:
    Phase One: Landing and move to Assembly Area approximately one kilometre inland.
    Phase Two: C Coy to move to clear Colleville from North to South, allowing first B Coy to have a clear run in their assault on 'Morris' and then to observe 'Hillman' and support with fire A Coy assault.
    Phase Three: B Coy with one breaching platoon of D Coy to assault 'Morris' and then move to support A Coy attack on 'Hillman'.
    Phase Four; A Coy with one breaching platoon to assault 'Hillman1.
    Phase Five: Consolidation ridge south of Colleville round 'Hillman'.

    Swordman Brian