Account of Capt John Wagstaff, 225 PFA, Normandy, 6 June 1944

Account of Capt Wagstaff, 225 PFA, Normandy, 6 June 1944

About 0055 hrs on June 6 our plane crossed the French coast-line. We were greeted with what appeared to be a considerable amount of 'Flak'. The plane took evasive action which caused some loss of equilibrium among the stick but even so, the stick did not extend over a distance of much more than half a mile. No 1 landed at Map Reference 122748 and No 18 Map Reference 124735.


All members of the stick had difficulty in finding the R.V. for the following reasons:-

(1) Poor light.

(2) D.Z. convex and impossible to see objects from other side.

(3) R.V. in hollow so trees did not show well even at close quarters.

(4) Multiple green lights on containers

(5) Officers on DZ with green light giving incorrect directions. No tram track along road as shown on map.

Seven of the section personnel reached the R.V. within an hour and a half.

Cpl Batchelor did not reach the RV in time and so reported straight to M.D.S. as he was advised by Independent Coy that RVs were confused.  Ptes Carrington and Roper joined up with Bn Headquaters on the bridge.

Captain Wagstaff saw Major Hewlings on arrival at RV and reported that only seven of his stick had arrived. Major Hewlings said that he would reinforce us as soon as possible. Captain Wagstaff then proceeded across the bridge to advance Bn Headquarters.

Captain Wagstaff contacted Captain Vaughan at the appointed meeting Place and ascertained that adequate arrangements were available for glider casualties.

At about 0400 hrs Captain Wagstaff crossed the canal bridge with advanced Bn Headquarters and waited there for his section to come up.

They arrived about 0430 hrs.

The section consisted of nine section 11 personnel and five reinforcements.  Captain Young had not been seen but the padre brought up a few of the 7th Bn medical personnel.

The party approached the location chosen for the RAP (Regimental Aid Post). by following the escarpment which winds round to the S.W. from the bridges. Suitable accommodation was eventually obtained in houses at Map References 095745.

The padre with Ptes Anderson, Gelson, Howard, Leggett. Davis, Sleeth and Sayles set up a ward for walking wounded on the East side of the road.

At first light Captain Wagstaff saw Major Taylor (A Coy th Bn ) and informed him that the RAP was ready to receive casualties.

About 0730 hrs a patrol was heard walking along the road. shots were heard and we saw a German patrol walking along the road between our two establishments. Shortly afterwards an armoured recce vehicle approached and was shortly followed by a tiger tank. We kept quite quiet. Two of the section in an outhouse were shot at by an automatic weapon. Later two Germans came into the courtyard, inspected our equipment and spoke to the owners of the house. They apparently diverted their attention.( Capt Wagstaff believes that they informed the Germans that they had withdrawn. when they knew that they were hiding in the house)

About 0930 hrs Pte Howard came across the road and reported that a patrol of 7th Bn Headquarters had passed by and advised remaining RAMC personnel in the road to come back with them. Howard had come across to collect his kit whilst the two others had moved off with the patrol.

Pte Howard also told us that the padre had been shot and he believed that Sleeth, Sayles and Leggett had also been shot. From then until 1330 hrs we heard intermittent firing from enemy automatic weapons in the near vicinity. One enemy post was apparently in the back garden of the house for, at times. we could hear cartridge cases falling.

At 1330 hrs we saw a Sherman Tank about 300 yards away. It had been firing at enemy machine gun posts. About 1400hrs an armoured recce car (British) came down and an RE Lieutenant came in to the RAP We gave him such information as we had and he set off to scout around. Very shortly afterwards Pte Shelly arrived at the RAP after a very difficult and dangerous crawl from 'A' Company positions. It took him approximately three hours although the two positions were only a few hundred yards apart. He told us that' A' Company were still holding out and that they had heavy casualties. They required more dressings and Stretcher Bearers to evacuate the wounded All available personnel went off with Shelly as guide to endeavour to reach' A' Company. A sapper Major stopped the party and advised them to wait until tanks had neutralised the machine gun posts and Infantry had gone through to 'A' Company. The party, therefore, returned to the RAP.

At about 1400hrs a sniper of 7th Bn called in to collect all available arms and ammunition for' A' Company as he said they had expended almost all their supplies. He stayed with us until about 17.00hrs and then led our Stretcher Party on their second attempt to reach 'A' Company's position.

A Sherman tank was going in to attack as our Party came up and so they waited for it to clear the road. One tank was knocked out at Map Reference 093745 and another Sherman tank 20 yards south of the RAP was knocked· out by an anti-tank gun. One member of the tank's crew escaped and came into the RAP.


The Sniper of the 7th Bn recced forward and found that it was impossible to get through to 'A' Company and so the Stretcher Party went to consult the RE Major. He informed them that his men were going to withdraw to the North side of Benouville and that arrangements were being made for' A' Company's wounded in armoured cars. He 'therefore, advised us to withdraw from the RAP.


Pte Stannard attempted to return to the RAP but was discouraged as the road was under fire. The REs brought up a bren gun and gave him cover fire over an alternative route through an orchard and he made his way to the RAP.


On receiving Pte Stannard's message Captain Wagstaff decided to evacuate the two positions and take such equipment as we could lay our hands on immediately. The party made it's way back through the garden, through another house and back up the road where we were covered by REs We eventually arrived at the bridge about 2100hrs.


Captain Wagstaff reported to Lt Col Harvey and set up a new Dressing Station about 200 yards from the bridge. We received most of 'A' Company's casualties who were being successfully evacuated. The Dressing station filled up by 2230 hrs when facilities for further evacuation were established by 8 Field Ambulance.


We continued to treat and evacuate patients, until we cleared all the casualties, at 0100 hrs on D+1. The 7th Bn, having been relieved by the Warwicks, had gone over to the East side of the river Orne. The section, therefore followed and reported to the M.D.S. at Le Bas de Ranville about 0215 hrs .


In the evening Pte MoId reported to the M.D.S. and informed us that he had been dropped east of the river Dives. He had seen Ptes Trail and Troutt but had lost contact with them. Pte Jamieson had accompanied Pte Mold on the first part of his journey on the east side of the river Dives.



By Capt John Wagstaff

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