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"Commando Raid on Varengeville, France" from Tactical and Technical Trends

A report on the British commando raid on the German artillery battery at Varengeville in support of the Raid on Dieppe, from Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 28, July 1, 1943.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]

(19 August 1942)

The following is an account of a British commando raid on Varengeville, which is about 3 1/2 miles west of Dieppe on the northern coast of France. This raid occurred on 19 August 1942, and was a subsidiary operation in the large-scale raid on Dieppe. It was designed to, and in fact did, destroy a German coastal battery which covered the approaches to Dieppe. The account of this action is here reprinted, with some minor editing for U.S. readers, from a British pamphlet.

[Map: British Commando Raid on Varengeville, Dieppe]

In order that this account may be more understandable, a brief summary of commando organization is given below. In this connection it should be noted that while a "commando" generally consists of six "troops," only four "troops" were used in this particular operation.

The commandos adhere closely to the guerrilla system, in which small bands join together to form larger but easily manageable units. The basic organization is a "troop" of 62 enlisted men, commanded by a captain and divided into two sections under lieutenants, a section being the usual complement for one landing craft. Sections are composed of subsections (squads) commanded by sergeants. The commando proper consists of six troops. The commando proper is led by a lieutenant colonel, who makes a point of knowing every man in his organization and tries to develop among them a feeling of personal attachment and mutual confidence. In addition to the six troops, there is in each commando a headquarters of 7 officers and 77 enlisted men organized in Administrative, Intelligence, Signal, and Transport sections; also, there are attached 1 surgeon and 7 men from the Royal Army Medical Corps and 2 armorers from the Royal Army Ordnance Corps.

The British account follows.

*          *          *


At daybreak, 19 August 1942, No. 4 Commando, consisting of 252 officers and men, including seven allied* personnel, assaulted the 6-gun battery at Varengeville. The position was defended by an approximately equal number of Germans, with all the advantages of concrete, wire, mines, concealed machine guns, mortars, dual-purpose flak guns, and knowledge of the ground. They had had 2 years to perfect these defenses, and when the time came they fought with the greatest determination. Yet, within 100 minutes of the landings, the position was overrun. The battery and all its works were totally destroyed, and at least 150 Germans left dead on the ground. Prisoners were also taken. British casualties were 45, of whom 12 were back on duty within 2 months.

a. General

Operation "Cauldron" is an outstanding example of what can be achieved by troops armed only with infantry weapons and by gallantry, sound planning, and thorough training.

It is a model of "fire and movement" tactics. Frontal fire pinned the enemy to the ground while the assault troops moved round their flank to a final assembly position, the assault itself being preceded by a final crescendo of fire. The principle of this attack and that of the battle drill taught at the British School of Infantry are the same.

This account is published in order that all may benefit from the story of a stimulating achievement. To obtain full value from it, officers and NCO's should first study it as an indoor exercise and then be told what actually happened on the day.

It should be borne in mind that this is merely an episode in a major operation in which the main brunt of the fighting was borne by the Canadian forces.

b. Planning

The soundness of the plan is a major factor in any success. This observation is true of operation "Cauldron." The plan was simple, flexible, and understood by all ranks. Its thoroughness was based on a detailed study of the information obtained from German dispositions. It was animated by the will to gain surprise.

However, good plans are not enough to command success; they must be completed by skillful and determined execution.

c. Training

Waterloo may or not have been won on the playing fields of Eton; it is certainly much truer to say that operation "Cauldron" was won on the training fields of England. The outstanding features of the training were the:

(1) Accuracy with which the nature of the various actions was foreseen.

(2) Soundness of the training program, which resulted in the soldier's meeting the sudden events of the day with the confidence of a highly trained athlete hearing the expected starting pistol for his race.

(3) Implicit confidence of the troops in their weapons--the culmination of months of practice in all phases of the fire fight.

All operations have special features for which special training is needed. In this one, cliff climbing, the use of scaling ladders, employment of bangalore torpedoes under unusual conditions, and measures for embarkation and reembarkation needed special treatment. This was given until, as in all else, perfection was reached.

A point which most people would miss was the elaborate care with which the seating arrangements in the landing craft had to be made; this was necessary because reorganization on the beaches would have meant death to many. It was not until after a heart-breaking number of trials that the right solution was arrived at.

Details of training are noted in the Appendix.

d. Execution of the Plan

It should be borne in mind that this Commando attack was purely an infantry operation, unassisted by other arms.

The operation brings out, yet again, how much the inflicting of heavy enemy casualties at comparatively light cost to ourselves is due to a sound appreciation of infantry fire power and to the team work, efficiency, and discipline of the troops.

It is interesting to note the high number of Germans killed by infantry weapons while the enemy was behind cover. This success was due to the special training of the troops in "accuracy shooting."

The application of successful mortar fire throughout the operation--the 3-inch from an OP 800 yards in front of the piece, using both wire and radio, the 2-inch boldly used in its correct role--is a lesson to all.

The high number of casualties inflicted by rifles and Bren guns [a light machine gun] fired from the hip at short range during the actual assault was a just reward of the previous careful training.

e. Lessons

Lessons, that should be looked for in the account of the action, are:

(1) Weapons

(a) Rifle

The large number of Germans who fell to our rifles had had their death sentences signed many months before, when the commando struggled to perfection in judging distance and shooting straight.

(b) Sniper

A special mention must be made of the snipers. It was made very clear to the Germans that a stalker with a quick and sure eye, cunning, field craft, and the sniper's rifle with its telescopic sight, can do much to swing the battle against them.

(c) Bayonet

There is something about a bayonet that defeats not only the armchair critic but, what is more important, the enemy. The German has always hated it.

(d) Grenades

AT rifle grenades were useful against enemy behind defenses, but the incendiary bullet was not a success. Its use invariably drew fire. HE hand grenades were useful, though it appears that the Germans can throw their stick grenades farther.

(e) Bren Gun

The Bren gun did what was expected of it. Thanks to concentration on judging of distance, accuracy of fire, and the use of cover, many Germans were killed by Bren fire. Considerable training in firing it from the hip during the assault produced striking results.

(f) Tracer

It was agreed that the psychological effect of tracer at night is very great. It is necessary that inoculation against this effect should be undertaken without delay. The demoralizing effect of tracer, which always appears to be going to hit you, is very great.

(g) Mortars, 2-inch and 3-inch

Extensive training and practice were undertaken to ensure a high degree of accuracy and speed in obtaining fire effect. During the operation, as the narrative shows, this training probably went far to ensure the successful end of the operation.

(h) Tommy Gun

Extensive training was carried out in the use of the tommy gun in assault and in-fighting. Results obtained were good, but the Bren proved a more effective weapon when used from the hip in similar circumstances.

(2) Minor Tactics

Training in fire and movement was carried out over country similar to that fought over, with special regard to close-country fighting. All personnel were thoroughly prepared for their various parts in all phases of the action. This careful study and preparation was the main reason why such a small infantry force was able to defeat approximately equal numbers of an enemy who was organized behind wire and occupied strong prepared defenses.

Training in the use of smoke at the right time and place, and in suitable quantity, resulted in the saving of many casualties at critical moments.

The success obtained in this operation bears out the principle of thorough and detailed training in the basic infantry tactics--fire and movement.


a. Object

"Cauldron" Force's orders were to destroy the battery near Varengeville with all speed and at all cost. This preliminary operation was essential to the larger plan for the raid on Dieppe, since the battery covered the Dieppe approaches and it was not possible to send in the large landing craft until the battery had been silenced. "Cauldron" Force landings were not to begin before 0450.

b. Ground

The accompanying sketch-map shows all features of significance that could be detected from air photographs.

The battery position near Varengeville (three and a half miles west of Dieppe) is 1,100 yards from the sea. The cliffs are steep and unbroken except at Beach One and Beach Two. At Beach One, two precipitous gulleys led up to wooded country running within 300 yards of the battery. Beach Two, near the mouth of the river Saane, appeared the next possible landing place.

A photograph of the chimney on Beach One is shown below.

[Beach One: British Commando Raid on Varengeville, Dieppe]

c. Defenses

Air photographs showed no indication of defenses along the cliffs or at Beach One.

[Diagram: British Commando Raid on Varengeville, Dieppe]

(1) Beach One

In the battery area, wire could be seen on all sides except to the west. The gun positions (1) were seen to be concentrated. Two light AA guns were located at (2) and (3). Only one MG position (4) was definitely located, but it was expected that others were similarly placed to cover the re-entrant angles of the wire, and the road approaches. A telephone line (5) led from the battery position to the lighthouse. This was thought to be an OP. Last-minute reconnaissance reported two light AA guns (6) in the lighthouse area. The battery area was considerably built over and consequently difficult to interpret. Subsequent events, however, revealed that the intelligence, in general, was correct. Additional information is shown on the sketch map and will be described during the narrative.

(2) Beach Two

At Beach Two, traces of wire were seen on the beaches; at (7), at the western extremity of the cliff line, were two pillboxes covering the beaches and the flat ground at the mouth of the River Saane. Inland of Beach Two, a complicated network of trenches, wire, and MG posts (8) could be seen on the high ground to the west of the village of Ste. Marguerite covering the valley of the River Saane.

d. The Enemy

From intelligence reports it was known that the battery and its protective troops belonged to the 110th Division, a first-class unit which had seen hard fighting in Russia. Reports also suggested an infantry company located in the Ste. Marguerite area and another in the Quiberville area.


The plan of the commanding officer of "Cauldron" Force was to hold the enemy with covering fire from the coast side of the battery while the assault was launched from inland.

He divided his command into two groups for this purpose. Group 1 was to provide the covering fire and Group 2 was to carry out the assault.

a. Group 1

Group 1, a total of 88 officers and men, consisted of:

Group Hq
C Troop**
Combat patrol (one section of A Troop)
Signal detachment for mortars
Signal section
Intelligence officer
Medical officer
Royal Naval beach master
Allied personnel
Reserve ammunition carrying party

Group 1 was to land at dawn on Beach One and:

(1) Form a bridgehead above the cliff, both for the advance and to cover the withdrawal.

(2) Engage the battery frontally with small-arms fire as soon as the alarm was raised or the battery itself had opened fire on the main landing at Dieppe. They were not to close with the battery until Group 2 had captured the battery position.

A detachment of 10 men carrying additional 3-inch mortar ammunition was to be landed after daylight. This detachment was also to lay and light smoke generators on the beach to cover the withdrawal.

b. Group 2

Group 2, a total of 164 officers and men, was to land in two waves on Beach Two. It consisted of:

CO "Cauldron" Force
Force headquarters
A Troop (less one section)
B Troop
F Troop
Allied personnel

A Troop, less section attached to Group 1 as a combat patrol, was to land on Beach Two to the east of the River Saane. Its tasks were:

(1) To cover from the west the assault on the battery position.

(2) During the withdrawal, to protect the flank from attack from the west.

The first wave, in one LCA*** consisting of a section of A Troop was to land under cover of fire from an LCS**** at the east end of Beach Two and overcome any immediate opposition to the landing of the second wave, particularly from the 2 pillboxes (7). It was then to move by the shortest route to the area of the crossroads at (9), in order to prevent the enemy in Ste. Marguerite from interfering with the assault on the battery.

The remainder of Group 2, in four LCAs, was to land on Beach Two.

The second wave, consisting of B and F Troops and Force Hq, was to follow after a 3-minute interval, slightly farther to the west on the beach. This force was then to move at all possible speed up the valley of the Saane for about 1,000 yards, and then turn east and move 1,900 yards farther to a wood (10). The LCS was to lie off Beach Two and oppose by fire any attempt to bring up reinforcements from the Quiberville area along the coast road.

Alternative plans were prepared for use if the landing was delayed. Their object was to shorten the approach to the objective should the landing take place in daylight. If there was slight delay, the main force was to take the same direct route as the section of A Troop. If the delay was considerable, the landing of the entire force on Beach One was envisaged.

c. The Assault

The assault was to be delivered by B and F Troops from the wooded area inland from the battery position. Ninety minutes were allowed for the approach from the beach to the final assembly position. Covering fire was to be provided by C Troop from the front of the position, and A Troop. A squadron of four-cannon Hurricanes was to "shoot up" the battery position at H+90. The signal for the assault was three white Very lights supplemented by radio messages.

d. Points in Planning Worth Noting

(1) During the approach to the beach, the landing craft were to provide covering fire for the initial landing if required. This responsibility rested jointly on the military personnel with their automatic weapons and on naval crews with stripped Lewis machine guns.*****

(2) All papers and means of identification, other than identity disks, were to be removed from personnel.

(3) Weapons and Equipment

(a) All personnel, except C Troop, carried their normal weapons. C Troop carried two extra, light machine guns and an antitank rifle, together with four grenade launchers and four sniper's rifles with telescopic sights.

(b) Grenades were to be primed, magazines filled, and all arms and equipment checked in daylight the day before the operation.

(c) Ammunition and explosives to be taken were considerable, and therefore had to be widely distributed; no rations or canteens could be carried. One thousand rounds of .45 and 1,000 rounds of .303 reserve ammunition were to be landed on Beach One, and, in addition, 3,000 rounds of reserve .303 remained in LCAs. HE grenades were carried by all riflemen, and a useful number of smoke grenades were taken. Incendiary mortar bombs and bullets were also carried. Made-up explosive charges were to be carried for destroying the guns and installations.

(4) Communications

Radio communication was to be established between the two group Hqs and to all Troops. Portable radio sets were used. Communications worked excellently. In addition, nets manned by attached personnel were established from Beach One to the beach used by the Canadians on the left flank, and between Force Hq and the naval landing craft.


a. Group 1

At 0430 hours Group 1 was approaching Beach One. The lighthouse was flashing, but a few minutes afterwards it suddenly cut off and a few seconds later some white star shells went up from the semaphore tower beside the lighthouse. The LCA commander was asked to increase speed if possible, since surprise had apparently been lost. It was not easy to see the beach, but the flare from the lighthouse had served as a useful navigational guide, and greater precision was obtained by recognition of two white houses on the cliff which had been memorized from air photographs.

The two LCAs went in according to plan, and, by the sound seamanship of the Navy, arrived within a yard of the correct place. Troops disembarked in successive waves, and because of the prearranged plan for seating in the LCAs, no reorganization was necessary on landing. Troops stepped ashore onto dry land. Previous experience had shown that automatic weapons and particularly tommy guns are likely to jam after a wetting. As it was, one Bren gun, which had been kept pointing over the bows of one of the LCAs, had been splashed by a wave and was very sluggish until the lubrication warmed up.

It was high tide, and in less than a minute the whole of Group 1 was under the cliffs. The leading sub-section of C Troop started up the east cleft, but returned very soon to report that it was impassable. It was partly filled up by rocks from the cliff and was also very heavily wired. The west cleft was then tried, and two bangalore torpedoes were blown in the wire which also choked this exit. It was realized that the use of explosives was likely to sacrifice surprise, but progress otherwise was impossible, and time was of paramount importance.

Fortunately the explosions coincided with heavy firing farther down the coast and were not apparently heard at the battery position. Successfully negotiating the cleft, the group pushed on as fast as possible with their first task. No. 1 Section, C Troop, went forward to the front edge of the wood facing the battery, after searching some houses on the way. From No. 2 Section, one sub-section searched all the remaining houses and ground in the immediate vicinity of Beach One, while the second sub-section guarded the bridgehead around the gulley.

A Troop's fighting patrol, after cutting the telephone line from the lighthouse OP, worked round to the right of the battery and, after C Troop went into action, engaged the gun sites from windows of adjoining houses with accurate small-arms fire at a range of about 250 yards. This patrol also silenced the flak gun at (3), killing three successive gun crews. One section of C Troop entered a small salient strip of scrub (11) facing the forward wire of the battery 250 yards in front of them. Some of the enemy, including what appeared to be a cook in a white suit, were standing about unconcernedly, thus suggesting that complete surprise had been achieved.

The mortar OP was established, and the linesman went back uncoiling the wire; the time was now 0530 hours. Owing to an error of judgment on the part of the corporal in command of the mortar, who moved his weapon further forward than necessary, time was lost, and it was able to open fire only just before the final assault. Wire communication failed, and communication from the mortar OP was from the group commander's radio to C Troop radio, an arrangement which had already been anticipated and practiced.

By 0540 hours No. 2 Section of C Troop was in position between (11) and (12), and the battery was being heavily engaged by small-arms fire. The three Bren guns fired in short bursts on a prearranged plan, only one gun firing at a time; it was necessary to weigh the conflicting claims of making the maximum display possible from this direction and at the same time conserving ammunition. Each gun had 16 magazines [1 magazine holds 30 rounds] of which about 12 were fired. One was continually in action in a position in long grass only 150 yards from the battery and was not observed. Three men with sniper's rifles did excellent work. One of them, wearing suitable camouflage and with his face and hands painted green, crawled forward to a fire position 120 yards from the gun emplacement. These snipers had been supplied with incendiary bullets, as well as ball ammunition, to fire at the wooden battery buildings. This arrangement was probably a mistake, since the chances of setting a house on fire with an incendiary bullet are small, and their use seldom failed to draw fire. All three enemy MG positions at (4), (13), and (14) were successively silenced by the accurate shooting of these Bren gunners and snipers. The antitank rifle was used against all buildings from which fire appeared to be coming, but it was hard to judge its effectiveness; 60 rounds were fired by the gunner, mostly rapid at the flak tower (2) in rear of the gun sites. The gun emplacements were out of range, but an AT grenade was fired through the window of a house to silence a sniper. A short time after the enemy had been engaged with small-arms fire, the 2-inch mortar arrived. The first bomb fell short, but the second hit one of the powder dumps behind the guns and a blinding flash resulted. The time was now 0607 hours and the battery never fired again. All efforts to extinguish the fire were prevented by accurate small-arms fire.

The fire travelled and other powder dumps exploded, severely burning the German gun crews. The 2-inch mortar continued to give accurate fire behind the gun emplacements. Small-arms fire and mortar fire (with smoke just before zero hour for the assault) continued until the assault signal went up about 0630 hours. A few minutes later a German 81-mm mortar, firing from east of the battery position, got the range just as the mortar crew was beginning to withdraw, and the first three casualties occurred. Hitherto, enemy fire (mortar, heavy MG, and horizontal flak) had been consistent but inaccurate, being, mostly too high. It is thought that when the 2-inch mortar position started to fire smoke, it was given away by the trails that these bombs leave while passing through the air.

Meanwhile, the remainder of C Troop had searched all the houses above the beach and the surrounding cover, killing enemy snipers. The telephone line from the lighthouse OP to the battery had been destroyed. The five or six salvos fired by the battery at the shipping off Dieppe all fell short; their failure was probably due to the cutting of this line.

Attention must now be turned from this success to the flank attack of Group 2.

b. Group 2

The five LCAs and one LCS containing Group 2 also increased speed when the white star shells went up from the lighthouse at 0430 hours. As A Troop (less one section) disembarked and began to cross the heavy beach wire (15), they came under mortar and machine-gun fire and had four casualties. The remainder of the group at once began to go ashore 150 yards farther up the beach, using chicken wire to get across the wire. They also came under fire and received eight casualties. The enemy used a concentration of tracer ammunition which, in the half light, had a most unpleasant effect on men not accustomed to it. There seems to be some doubt whether this fire was coming from high ground west of Ste. Marguerite or from the Quiberville direction, or from both. Most of the casualties were from the mortar--which, fortunately, soon lifted and continued firing at the retreating landing craft. Two medical orderlies remained with the wounded. One was taken prisoner with them; the other escorted three walking wounded along the cliff top to Beach One. One officer, leaving his boat, was hit by mortar fragments, his right hand becoming useless. Nevertheless he went on, and led a charge in the final assault on the battery, using his revolver and grenades with his left hand and accounting for a number of the enemy. He subsequently was decorated. A radio lance-corporal [private first class] was stunned by the same bomb. He recovered consciousness 10 minutes later, and, knowing the plan and that he was of major importance as being the only radioman in his section, he pulled himself together and rejoined his section, by this time in the wood. He arrived in time to give Force Hq the necessary situation report before the assault signal. A private, under heavy fire, climbed a telegraph pole and with his wire-cutters cut lateral communications along the coast; he was awarded a decoration.

As the troops were getting over the wire, three Boston [A-20s] aircraft passed overhead and drew enemy fire from the commando, who rushed to (16) and, crossing the Quiberville-Ste. Marguerite road, proceeded at the double along the east bank of the River Saane, in accordance with the plan. B Troop was in the lead, followed closely by Force Hq, then F Troop. Arrangements had been made to cover this advance with smoke if they were fired at from high ground near Quiberville. It was easy to keep direction, below a steep bank (17) that defiladed them from Ste. Marguerite and with the river on their right. The going, mostly through long grass, was heavy, since the river had overflowed its banks. The bend in the river where the force was to swing east was also easily identified. By this time it was 0515 hours and broad daylight.

The ground from the river to the southwest corner of the wood (10) was more exposed, though not devoid of cover. The more open spaces were crossed in open formation by bounds. By this time Group 2 could hear the heavy volume of small-arms fire with which C Troop were engaging the battery, and soon afterward the roar of the powder explosion, and the sheets of flames clearly visible above the trees, increased their confidence that all was going well.

On reaching the wood (10), B and F Troops divided according to plan and made their way toward their assembly areas.

B Troop moved forward inside the southern edge of the wood and then filtered through the orchard by sub-sections. Using cover, they approached the perimeter wire, where they came under inaccurate fire from a machine-gun position (18), the AA gun at (2), and from various buildings. From there on, they advanced by fire and movement with covering smoke. One machine gun was stalked and silenced with a grenade. They reached their assembly positions, just short of the main battery buildings, and reported at H+95 that they were ready for the assault.

F Troop went through the wood to (19), where they advanced under cover of smoke due north, on either side of the road, to the corner of the perimeter. Here a sergeant records that a number of Germans were surprised in a farmyard, while organizing a counterattack on C Troop. They were killed with tommy guns. Vigorous opposition was encountered from the buildings and enclosures just inside the perimeter wire, and several casualties were sustained. The troop commander was killed by a stick grenade, and one of the section officers was mortally wounded. The sergeant took over but was also killed. The third officer took over command of the troop, and, though shot through the thigh in the final assault on the battery, led his men in bayonet charges from one gun site to another. He was subsequently awarded the Victoria Cross. The troop first-sergeant was also badly wounded in the foot, but continued to engage the enemy in a sitting position; he received a decoration. Fighting their way forward and overcoming resistance, F Troop reached their line of departure for the final assault under cover in a ditch along the road immediately behind the gun emplacements.

Force Hq consisting of the commander, adjutant, two runners, three radiomen with 3 radios, and a protective section of four tommy gunners from the commando orderly room had moved forward to the northwest corner of the wood, where a heartening situation report was received from the commander of Group 1. From the same area, the section of A Troop attached to Group 1 also reported that they were in a position west of the battery position at about (20) and had inflicted heavy casualties. Force Hq now moved behind and between B and F Troops near the road junction (21), where the commander contacted officers commanding B and F Troops. The time was now H+95. During this move forward, being mistaken for the enemy, the Force Hq came under heavy fire from a section of F Troop. Radio was used to stop the fire.

At H+90, exactly on time, a low-level cannon attack on the gun sites and battery position was made by a Hurricane squadron. This attack was only partly successful, as the squadron came in mixed up with Focke-Wulfs.

The assault signal was given at about H+100. B Troop rushed the buildings to the right of the gun sites, and F Troop the gun sites themselves. The charge of F Troop went in across open ground under fire, overrunning strongpoints, and finally ended on the gun sites themselves, where all the crews were grenaded, shot, or bayoneted. B Troop had a somewhat easier task in the assault. Odd enemy groups were overcome in underground tunnels, in the battery Hq, in the cookhouse, and in outbuildings. Two German officers were killed after a rousing chase from one house to another. The guns (both barrels and breech blocks), instruments, and most of the subterranean supplies and ammunition dumps, were blown up by F Troop. B Troop was responsible for mopping-up and for all-around defense. The gun emplacements afterwards were a remarkable sight. Dead Germans were piled high up behind the sandbag breastworks which surrounded the guns. Many of them had been badly burned when the powder had been set afire in the early stages of the operation. Bodies of men who had been sniped by C and A Troops lay all around the area, in and out of bunkers, slit trenches, or buildings.

Isolated resistance from pillboxes caused a further half-dozen casualties, since all strongpoints were enfiladed from one section of the wire to another (the perimeter covered some 50 acres); when one position was stormed and the crews killed, the commando personnel engaged came under heavy fire from the next position. Isolated snipers continued to resist from cover outside the gun emplacements. It was noted that they picked off single men moving by themselves, but appeared unwilling to unmask their position during mopping-up operations if two or more men exposed themselves simultaneously. Good use of smoke generators was made at this stage, and the smoke grenades, which explode on impact, proved particularly successful. Union Jacks for captured positions proved useful as recognition signals. The last survivors, like all the enemy encountered, fought well.

It may not be out of place to note that "Cauldron" Force Commander considers that the success of the operation was chiefly due to the excellent leadership of junior officers and to superior weapon training.


While the guns were being blown up, the force commander ordered the medical officer and stretcher bearers by radio to come up from the beachhead to the battery position. F Troop, Force Hq, and B Troop, when the demolitions and mopping-up were finished, moved successively down to Beach One, carrying their wounded and guided by elements of C Troop who were covering the withdrawal.

Meanwhile A Troop, acting as left flank guard, ambushed and shot up an enemy patrol coming from Ste. Marguerite. As an example of bad training, it is worthy of note that the enemy advanced points were too close together, and that the shot that sprang the ambush passed through the bodies of the two leading Germans.

It took some time to get the wounded through the wire, and time might have been saved had the gaps through it been widened while the operation was in progress. During the evacuation an enemy mortar began to shell the beach, but the 3-inch mortar, which had already been put in position on the beach to cover such an eventuality, returned fire, judging the position of the enemy weapon by the line of flight of the approaching bombs. This enemy mortar did not fire again. C Troop, forming the rear guard, was the last to withdraw, and did so in accordance with a frequently rehearsed drill whereby the light machine guns in pairs leap-frogged one another, while the rear elements put up a smoke screen. Haversacks containing smoke generators had been dumped for this purpose by the troop at the top of the gulley on their way up. The withdrawal across the rocks to the LCAs was made through a lane of smoke some 200 yards wide, produced by the smoke generators placed in position during the operation. The lane was extended for about 50 yards into the sea by naval smoke floats put out by the LCS and LCAs. When the LCAs were a few hundred yards out, and no longer under the lee of the cliffs, they came under inaccurate machine-gun fire from the vicinity of the lighthouse, and further use was made of smoke until out of range.

The total casualties of the operation were 45:

Officers killed  2
Officers wounded  3
Enlisted men killed  10
Enlisted men wounded  17
Enlisted men wounded and missing  9
Enlisted men missing  4

No casualties were suffered during the withdrawal. Of the 20 evacuated wounded, several had carried on right through the action; 12 of the 20 wounded were back on duty within two months.



The success of this operation was due to thorough training in all subjects. The last 3 weeks before the operation were spent in an intensive refresher course, each troop specializing for the part it was going to undertake.

The following training was carried out:

a. Individual Training

(1) A Troop

Cliff climbing with scaling ladders. Fire and movement in close country. Practice fire against full-scale model of the enemy battery. Combat patrols. Street fighting.

(2) B Troop

Fire and movement in close country. Use of ground. Full-scale practice against model of enemy battery. House-to-house fighting and assault tactics; in-fighting with tommy guns, grenades, and bayonets. Mopping-up and consolidation. Rear-guard action.

(3) C Troop

Forming a bridgehead. Snipers' training. Stalk and crawl. Taking up position in front of full-scale perimeter. Firing AT rifle grenades from grenade launchers. Mortar practice, 3-inch and 2-inch (3-inch mortars were also fired from a beach). It is of interest to note that the standard of training reached by mortar men was such that they had scored 18 hits out of 20 rounds into a space yards square, at 250 yards' range. Radio in conjunction with 3-inch mortar. A fighting withdrawal and final reembarkation (1) with smoke, (2) under fire.

(4) F Troop

Assault of a model of the battery position. Visits to local coast defenses by Troop NCO's and sappers. Component parts of guns and other equipment. Laying of charges. Assault tactics and combat firing.

b. Collective Training (All Troops and Force Hq)

Hardening exercises, physical training with weapons. Swimming. One-mile runs every morning before breakfast. Doubling fully loaded over specified distance in wet clothes. Assaulting over set distance on full-scale model. Crossing beach wire with chicken wire. Use of bangalore torpedoes. Fire and movement on the range; battle drill with live ammunition, bayonet fighting, and unarmed combat. Detailing of "smoke men" with 100 percent reserves and training in laying smoke. Practice in withdrawal, first as a drill, then with smoke, opposition, and casualties. Evacuation of casualties at all stages, e.g., from objective to beach, from the beach into LCAs, from LCAs into parent ship. Accommodation on parent ship and in LCAs by day and by night. Landing from LCAs first as a drill, then with full supplies and equipment. Loading of LCAs with ammunition, explosives, scaling ladders, etc. Firing of light machine guns from LCAs. Use of radios (all officers, NCOs, and runners). Practice of each troop's own role on full-scale model daily. Training in special equipment, i.e., canvas containers and bags to keep weapons and radio sets dry, special bangalore torpedoes, demolition charges, smoke grenade, and Everest carriers.****** Personal camouflage, and security. French and German lessons.

*I.e., personnel from other than British units.
**Troop Hq plus two Sections for a total of three officers, 52 enlisted men.
***Landing craft, assault--a flat-bottomed boat approximately 35 ft. long by 9 ft. wide, drawing about 3 feet at the stern. Carries a maximum of 35 men. Crew of one naval officer and three men. Square bows, lowered to form ramp for disembarkation.
****Landing craft, support--a flat bottomed boat of the same size as LCA, not meant to carry troops. No disembarkation ramps. Armed with a 20-mm gun and/or a 3-inch mortar for smoke, and with twin, dual-purpose Lewis machine guns.
*****Naval crews have their primary task in working the craft and, therefore, covering fire should normally be provided by the military personnel in the craft.
******[A type of individual pack]


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