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Pre D-Day Commando raids

#1
I read this online and found it quite interesting, it was supplied without sources. I'm interested to hear of any other raids like this, I have tried searching for more information on this to no avail. Any thoughts?

At 0230hrs on the 3rd of June 1944 two men of the newly formed Royal Air Force Regiment were parachuted close to the town of Caen in Normandy. They were tasked with neutralizing the threat of night fighters deployed from the airfield at Caen/Carpiquet against the transport aircraft due to carry allied airborne forces into Normandy to secure critical points such as the crossroads towns of St. Mer Eglise and Carentan. The intended drop zone was to be in the flat lands south of the town of Cheux but north of the river that snaked around the north of Granville-sur-Odon. Sergeant Mike "Huff" Huffingham and Corporal Charlie Minshull found themselves to the south of the river which meant they would have to cross it on their way west to their target.

After landing they gathered up their parachutes and hid them in one of the impenetrable French hedgerows that would prove to be their saviour just 13 hours later and took stock of their situation. Experts in navigation it became clear that their task was to be made more arduous by a river crossing but, being hardened by many months of training, it was a hardship they were well prepared for. Gathering their equipment they made their way towards their objective. Upon arrival at the Collevile to Cheux road bridge that they had hoped to be able to use to cross the river they found it guarded and effectively impassible without compromising their operation. A river crossing would place too great a risk upon their radio that they needed to be able to receive the confirmation of their operation so they chose to not cross until they had received the codeword that told them that allied forces were now committed.

The two men withdrew to the south of the road bridge by about a quarter of a mile because the river turned west at the bridge and would give them a longer journey if they chose that option. They found a small hole in a hedgerow and formed themselves a "hide" deep within it, (French hedges are often as much as 12 feet wide and are a tangle of vegetation and thorny bushes that makes penetration extremely difficult if not impossible). They took it in turns to sleep for two hours at a time so that they remained fresh for their operation yet protected from being surprised by Nazi troops or the local population.

At about 1530hrs that day a German soldier and his French girlfriend approached their position with a small dog. The two men withdrew to the deepest point of their hide and waited. The couple stopped just yards from the Gunners and sat talking while the dog explored the area. Within a few minutes the dog began to show interest in the entrance to the hide and finally entered. When it got deep enough into the hedgerow it found the two men and growled quietly. Corporal Minshull began whispering to the dog and offered it some chocolate he had to hand. The dog accepted it willingly and, when the couple left, followed them without incident.

As darkness fell Sergeant Huffingham turned on the radio and tuned it to the pre-arranged frequency. Through the static he managed to hear the phrase "The dog ate before the cat". This was a sign that the date of the invasion had been reset to the next day, the sixth of June, rather than the originally planned fifth. Both men were somewhat perturbed by the delay as it increased their risk of discovery significantly but, being the elite soldiers they were, they took it as another minor bump in the road to inevitable victory.

They remained in place without incident but through quite severe discomfort in the confines of the claustrophobic hedgerow until the next evening when, upon tuning in to the new frequency they clearly heard the message "The cat scratched the dog's nose this morning". This was the signal that the D-Day invasion was taking place the next morning, (the 6th of June), and that their mission was required to be completed that night.

With Corporal Minshull leading the way they approached the river and decided that, for both speed and safety in the water, the radio would be buried and left behind. Once this decision was made both men knew that this was a "one way" mission with no hope of assistance or escape. Having buried the radio the two moved to the water's edge and waited a full half hour to make sure their location was not being watched before crossing the river. Having crossed the river the re-dressed themselves and moved off west towards the airfield at Caen/Carpiquet.

They made good time crossing the fields and hedgerows and soon found themselves in the approach lanes of the active runway. The set themselves up a makeshift hide and began waiting until activity on the airfield indicated that the incoming transport aircraft had been detected by the Germans.

At 11:25pm on the night of the 5th of June 1944 German lookouts along the French coast to the north of Caen near Le Havre began report transport aircraft. These were carrying the British and Canadian 6th Airborne Division whose drop zones were just to the east of Caen and were due to drop at 0020hrs on the morning of the 6th. Almost immediately the three engined Albatros D.Va Mk. 8, (night variant) fighters armed with the new FuG 218 radar were scrambled from Caen/Carpiquet.

This was the moment of truth for the two Gunners. They were required to delay the take-off of the German night fighters sufficiently long to allow the transport aircraft to deliver their paratroopers and the gliders to their landing zones in Normandy. Failure to do so would mean carnage in the air over France and possibly another delay or even cancellation of the invasion.

A vast hubbub began on the airfield and the sound of crews rushing to their aircraft and engines being started cut through the night air. The two Gunners moved out of their hide and moved up onto the slight rise to their north that gave then a clear view straight down the east west runway that the fighters would take off down in mere minutes. They separated slighty with Sergeant Huffingham carrying the sniper rifle and Corporal Minshull ready to give protective fire to his sniper if the need arose, which it assuredly would when the Germans realized what was happening.

As the first of the German night fighters turned onto the runway and applied it's brakes to make it's final checks a shot rang out across the airfield and the left tyre of the fighter blew. Unable to take off there was confusion as the runway was now blocked. A second shot rang out and the port engine of the next aircraft in line began to smoke. This added to the confusion and the Germans made the dangerous decision to turn off the airfield lights. Now the fighters were shrouded in darkness but they could not see the taxiways and runway making take-off nearly impossible. It took a munite or two and the decision was reversed and the lights came back up. This revealed the first aircraft had been pulled onto the grass alongside the runway and the second had shut down it's port engine and was taxiiing back to it's dispersal.

The lights also silhouetted the shapes of several German soldiers running alongside the runway towards the Gunners. Corporal Minshull aimed and fired at the closest, (which was still some 400 yards away), and missed but the Germans now knew they had been seen and took cover thus slowing their approach. By now another fighter had maneuvered onto the runway and began it's take-off run without a pause for final checks. Sergeant Huffingham fired again, this time at the region of the cockpit that was bathed in a faint light. The pilot was severly wounded and the fighter skidded at speed off the runway and ignited after a collision with a truck full of soldiers that had been dispatched to the west end of the runway. Now the runway was bathed in a bright light making take-offs impossible while the sniper held his position.

Two other trucks loaded with men had been sent to try to reach the invisible sniper and they ran into a hail of fire brought down by Coproral Minshull which caused them to dismount and attempt to advance, Unfortunately for them they were silhouetted against the fire from the crashed fighter and Corporal Minshull Had little difficulty picking them off on the featureless airfield.

By now almost eight minutes had passed and the Luftwaffe still had no night fighters in the air. In a desperate attempt to neutralize the sniper they brought machine gun fire to bear from positions on the perimeter of the airfield but, while it might have made the firers feel better, was of little use since they were firing blindly into the darkness. Time was becoming short for the night fighter pilots since it was necessary to get airborne, form up at range with another fighter and then use the other aircraft to calibrate their FuG 218 radars before they could use them to track the British transports.

In a desperate attempt to get aircraft in the air Hauptmann Gerd Faust ordered his flight to take off together using both the runway and the grass to either side. This proved to be fatal for two pilots who, on the darkened airfield became disoriented and as they lifted they drifted together and crashed just inside the airfield perimeter at the end of the runway. Hauptman Faust managed to get airborne from the runway but in the absence of another fighter to calibrate his radar was forced to call off any attack in preference of the night fighters that had been scrambled from Abbeville. They did not reach the transports until after they had delivered their deadly cargoes.

Realizing that they had accomplished their mission the two Gunners withdrew to the west and awaited the invading troops at a pre-arranged location three days later. Were it not for the bravery and skill of Sergeant Huffingham and Corporal Minshull the harm done to the Airborne forces on the morning of the 6th of June would have been immeasurable.
 
#3
strut_jack said:
Commando?












Or Battle Picture Library?
It does read a little like that, I don't want to dismiss it offhand as I have no idea who wrote it. It was a time when many people where doing extraordinary things but I find it a little strange I have never heard of these types of raids before D-Day.
 
#4
Hello spaz,

this bit sounds amiss :

"three engined Albatros D.Va Mk. 8, (night variant) fighters armed with the new FuG 218".

This picture is an Albatros D.Va in the First World War.


tangosix.
 

Attachments

#5
tangosix said:
Hello spaz,

this bit sounds amiss :

"three engined Albatros D.Va Mk. 8, (night variant) fighters armed with the new FuG 218".

This picture is an Albatros D.Va in the First World War.


tangosix.
Seen don't think that has three engines either, there seems to be a problem with the timeline also. Inserting on the morning of the 3rd lying up for the day then the invasion going in the next day on the 6th? Although could be a simple mistake.
 
#6
Having done a bit of reading I think its safe to assume that this is a load of balls. Just out of interest, the airfield at Carpiquet was held by around 150 Hitler youth before being captured around D+7 by the Canadians, I can't find any information about the airfield being used for purpose.
 
#7
NO German Night Fighters units were stationed in the region (either Gruppen, or Staffellen strength)
Nor were there any flights.
No three engined type was employed by the Luftwaffe, as a Night fighter.
Oh BTW the Radar set "FuG 218" is a Non starter either.

Now lets think about a "minor" point, These men "knew" about the impending invasion. Would they REALLY have inserted two "Bigots" to blob it was coming, with a operationally meaningful lead time?
 
#8
IndianaDel said:
NO German Night Fighters units were stationed in the region (either Gruppen, or Staffellen strength)
Nor were there any flights.
No three engined type was employed by the Luftwaffe, as a Night fighter.
Oh BTW the Radar set "FuG 218" is a Non starter either.

Now lets think about a "minor" point, These men "knew" about the impending invasion. Would they REALLY have inserted two "Bigots" to blob it was coming, with a operationally meaningful lead time?
I think you may be seriously underestimating Sergeant Mike "Huff" Huffingham and Corporal Charlie Minshull. :wink:
 
#10
IndianaDel said:
True Spaz :salut:
In that spirit, i bet you have put your life savings in to Bank Shares too! :x
No mate I found this here on Rocknet

Listed as RAF REGT Special Operations-This is the place that documents the history of the Regiment that has never been made known.

I believe the site is trying to pass this off as part of their history rather than mentioning all the rocks that landed on various beaches in support of D-Day. They just can't help themselves I suppose.
 
#12
As no verification, ie source of the claims, is given I think we can put this down to over excited decapods.
Cue howls of outrage (But no proof, I bet.) from the usual suspects. :twisted:
 
#13
Shouldn't this be in the "Rockapes what are they like" thread, along with their new super warry ad campaign.............................................................

I believe on the way out of france, as they ghost walked through the paras in the rear, advancing to the fight the rockapes had started and almost finished, they rescued (From a german castle stronghold) two emminent french/swiss engineers who's technical knowledge was the starting point for the RAF christmas tree ornaments and cuckoo clocks we see today

LEGENDS, every man an emperor....................
 
#14
The aircraft and radar type just doesn't work...... world war one fighters with an extra couple of engines and a radar fitted..... no wonder they were stopped with a rifle. very odd indeed.
 

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