One of the most remarkable feats of arms undertaken by any unit in World War 2 is recounted in a new book with the support of a veteran living in Majorca. From Omaha to the Scheldt-the story of 47 Royal Marine Commando recounts how the unit seized a vital French port on D-Day and then later describes their push into Nazi occupied territory. One of the unit's veterans, Peter Winter, has lived on the island for many years. Every year he returns to the French port of Port-en-Bessin with many of his comrades for a remembrance service to mark the epic feat, still remembered by the picturesque town 50 years afterwards. The book is written by the unit's Medical Officer, John Forfar, and gives an insight into great courage and determination in one of the “forgotten” battles of D-Day which was probably as important as the actual landings themselves. Port-en-Bessin had to be taken as it was to be the terminal for the vital fuel supplies coming ashore from the so-called Pipeline Under The Ocean which was to provide the petrol to keep the vehicles moving. The job of taking the town, to the right flank of the “Gold beach” fell to 47 Royal Marine Commando. The plan was to attack the town by landing on the main beaches after they had been secured in the initial assault, and then to circle round behind the enemy forces to attack after a 12 mile march. But the plan went dangerously wrong. When the Commando's landing craft arrived at the beach it was not secure, and they were directed to land further east. The unit came under heavy fire from coastal artillery. Five of the 14 landing craft were lost on the run in and seven were damaged. Only two were fit to return to the mother ship. The Commando unit was scattered along nearly a mile of beach with the Commanding Officer, five officers and 71 Marines missing. Some of these men, including the unit's Commander were able to rejoin the unit but 28 had been killed or drowned and 21 were injured. Of those who finally made it to the shore most were cold and wet, some had lost boots and trousers and other personal equipment to avoid drowning. These remaining men fought their way across country and finally seized the port, on June 8, two days after the landing. It had been a close-run thing. Of the 420 men who had climbed aboard the landing crafts days earlier only 276 men were left when the town was taken. In the words of Falklands veteran and leading historian and Royal Marine General Julian Thompson “the capture of Port-en-Bessin was one of the most remarkable episodes in the history of the Corps (Royal Marines) and yet is not talked about nearly enough...it was one of the great feats of arms or any unit, Royal Marines, Army, Navy or Air Force, of any nation in the Second World War, and far more worthy of study than many others.” The Commando was then moved to the front line on the River Orne and then later to Walcheren, the key to the river Scheldt leading to Antwerp and its vital port facilities, without which any further advance would have been impossible. Again the Commando had a difficult task, and the landing was fraught. Fighting through the sand dunes, on the narrow front that was the rim of the saucer shaped island, they captured the gun battery that was their target. After the war the unit was disbanded. Twenty-six percent of the unit had been killed in action and 74 percent wounded, a 100 percent casualty rate.

Comments

The content of comment is the opinion of users and netizens and not of mallorcadailybulletin.com.

Comments contrary to laws, which are libellous, illegal or harmful to others are not permitted');

mallorcadailybulletin.com - reserves the right to remove any inappropriate comments.

Warning

Please remember that you are responsible for everything that you write and that data which are legally required can be made available to the relevant public authorities and courts; these data being name, email, IP of your computer as well as information accessible through the systems.

* Mandatory fields

Currently there are no comments.