The Battle for Hill 13, Putot en Auge, Normandy August 1944.

18th August 1944.
Place: Bois de Bavent

0400 - Bn moved off through TROARN, and across the R. DIVES to area 207703 in rear of 3 Para Bde, where food arrived and the bn. rested throughout the day.  Just before midnight the bn moved off from the concentration area to cross the river at 237719 and to attack the village of PUTOT-EN-AUGE.

19th August 1944
Place: Goustranville

0145 - Bn. arrived at bridge 237719 to find it blown and not crossable.  A change of plan was then made by the Bde. Comd entailing the transfer of the original assault to 7 & 12 Para Bns and the follow-through assault to 13 Para Bn.

0500 - Bn. now concentrated WEST of river crossing 237718 awaiting orders to cross.  Whilst in this area considerable number of mortar bombs fall around the bn. but no casualties were suffered.

1000 - Bn. crossed river, covered by arty barrage, and entered the village of PUTOT-EN-AUGE.  From here the advance was continued after a short pause up the steep slope to what was later known as 'Hill 13'.  B Coy led the advance and had almost gained the summit when they were engaged by heavy MG fire, inflicting many casualties.  Attempts by A & C Coys to carry out flanking attacks were pinned down.  Appx ‘A’.

Place: Putot-en-Auge

1530 - Orders were given to consolidate the posns already held and not to advance further.  This was done, and extremely accurate arty fire and small arms fire inflicted very heavy casualties on an enemy counter attack which never reached our FDLs.  During the day the following officers were wounded - Major Tarrant., Capt Tibbs (RAMC)., Lieut Bibby (missing).  There were nearly 70 all ranks killed wounded and missing.  Capt Grantham took over comd of B Coy., Lieut Town becoming adjutant in his place.

20th August 1944
Place: Putot-en-Auge

During the night 48 RM Cdo took Hill 13 and there was no enemy activity on our front.  By day a number of enemy were seen, and a recce patrol in the evening found the house at 255723 occupied by a pl. of enemy, heavy mortar fire was an annoyance and accounted for a number of casualties.

21st August 1944
Place: Putot-en-Auge

1530 - Bn. moved to a conc. area at the foot of the hill near PUTOT-EN-AUGE and prepared to move forward in transport.

2330 - Bn. moved in tpt to ANNEBAULT 4201.


Appx 'A'

Battle of 'Hill 13'

On the evening of August 18th, the battalion, which was lying up [E?] of GOUSTRANVILLE received orders to prepare for a night march and day attack into PUTOT EN AUGE.  After some alteration in the orders, the Battalion finally set out at 2330 hours and marched off up the road through GOUSTRANVILLE and made for the railway bridge, intending to pass after the 9th Parachute Battalion.  Guided by Captain Golding, the I.O., the head of the Battalion reached the bridge (at 237719) at 0145 hrs.  Here it was found that the bridge had gone, and that the tide had risen to 5 feet 8 inches, and was still rising.  The Battalion therefore turned about in its tracks and guided by the Commanding Officer and Second-in-Command retraced its steps, in absolutely inky darkness, to GOUSTRANVILLE.

Here orders were received to follow the 12th Parachute Battalion across the river by the bridge at 237718, which was found to be sound.  The battalion therefore left at 0400 hrs and after an unpleasant approach down the main road, which was being shelled, made its lying up area at the foot of the hill at about 0430 hrs.

Here the Battalion lined a hedge and bank, fortunately defiladed from the enemy fire and prayed that the darkness, and then the mist would hold until they could be released to follow the 12th Parachute Battalion across the open and into PUTOT EN AUGE.

Gradually the darkness went and the mist lifted and still PUTOT EN AUGE had not been cleared and the Battalion was therefore to disperse as the high ground, including the bank, where it was sheltering was beginning to appear.  Nevertheless, the hun started mortaring and shelling the area, and the Battalion was most fortunate to suffer no casualties during this period.  When daylight came fully, some nine huns were found hiding, extremely frightened, in the area, and were removed.

At about 0900 hrs, the battalion, in the order, 'B', 'A', 'C' Coys, crossed over, a most difficult and dangerous passage, which was mostly carried out at the double, into the village of PUTOT EN AUGE.  There was some mortar fire against us and five casualties were suffered, but the battalion reached the village by 1025 hrs and concentrated on the far side.

Here orders were received to attack and capture the hill over-looking the village, which was called "Hill 13", passing through the 7th Parachute Battalion.  An 'O Group' was held at 1115 hours, and the top of the hill was engaged by the F.O.O. at scale 3, at the same time.

Orders were issued for the Battalion to attack, 'B' Coy leading supported by 'A' Coy, with 'C' Coy in reserve.  Mortars and M.Gs were still in GOUSTRANVILLE.

'B' Company, led most gallantly by Major R.M. Tarrant, went up the hill, taking the first crest without much trouble, went on to take the second crest direct.  Here, on reaching the crest, they found that the Germans had just at that moment been reinforced, on the reverse slope, by 90 men, and they were forced off.

'A' Company tried to shoot them back and made no headway, so 'C' Company were put in right flanking.  Unfortunately 'C' Company also met with aimed machine gun fire and could not make good their flanking move.  At this moment the Germans tried to counter-attack, but most timely D.F. fire was available from 151 Fd Regt, who had managed to get an armoured O.P. across, and the counter-attack never really came on.  The artillery fire was most accurate and excellently directed.

By 1500 hrs, the situation was stabilised, with the Battalion holding their ground and continuing to fire on the enemy whenever seen.  Fairly heavy casualties had been suffered, about 70 killed, wounded and missing, including Major Tarrant and Lieut Bibby, both of 'B' Company, and Captain Tibbs the Doctor.

Captain Grantham, the Adjutant, took over 'B' Company, and 40 reinforcements, which arrived most opportunely, were drafted in to make up the depleted companies.

That night there was no activity on the part of the enemy, and 48 Commando passed through in a silent night attack and occupied the top of the hill successfully.  The only activity was when the Commandos arrived, in the evening to make a reconnaissance of the positions.  The movement was seen by the enemy and mortar fire inevitably came down on our area, wounding five Commando key men, the Battalion I Sjt, four men, seriously, and the second-in-command slightly.  He said again - "You can not take chances with the hun".

The following day was uneventful except that the new Doctor, Captain Urquhart, was wounded by a sniper.

Courtesy of Mark Hickman

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