War Diary extract of A Coy 12 Para Bn's action at Le Mesnil 7 July 1944

The action took place in the area of the farm 143730 at 1145 hrs. 

The object of the action was to establish a post at the hedge & track junc at 145730.

It was suspected that the enemy had a MG post in posn at this point, and it was known that the hedge running from the hedge & track junc (145730) to hedge junc (145720) was frequented by one or more enemy snipers.  The night previous to the action a wiring party had laid wire from the road 144731 to hedge 145729.  No enemy fire was drawn from this MG even though it was a moonlight night.

At about 0800 hrs it was thought that the enemy might possibly have withdrawn from the posn at the rd & hedge junc, and it was suggested that the posn should be occupied by a section of 'A' Coy.

The method was as follows:- Snipers were to be sent forward towards the posn to report if the posn was occupied or not.  Two snipers moved fwd from the posn at 145728 and moved along the edge towards the enemy.  They later reported back and Pte Digby stated that he had shot an enemy sniper at 145729.  He thought he only wounded him and believed that the sniper went back to his lines.  Information still pointed towards the fact that the posn was still occupied.

At 1130 hrs a small party consisting of 1 sniper, 1 LMG & and NCO commanded by Lt GUY (SWB att 12 Para Bn) moved to the hedge junc at 145729 in order to prevent interference from the right whilst the posn was being occupied.  At 1145 hrs L/Cpl O'ROURKE and two snipers moved from the farm down the track towards the hedge junc.  They reached a point about 100 yds from the fm and still no fire was drawn so a composite section consisting of six men with three LMGs, commanded by Sgt MARRIOT began to move down the track in the rear of the snipers.  They had gone about 50 yds down the track when an enemy MG started to fire down the track towards the farm and L/Cpl O'ROURKE was immediately wounded.  The section returned the fire.  Maj BLISS (commanding 'A' Coy) who was moving in the rear of the party, picked up a Bren gun and firing it from the hip, moved towards the enemy.  The party were then fired on from the left of the track and Maj BLISS was among those wounded by another MG firing from the NORTH.  2" mortar fire was then placed down on the hedge & track junc from fwd of our posn at 145728.  Whilst this was going down the section withdrew down the track back to the farm bringing the casualties with them.  It was during the evacuation of wounded that Capt COATES (2 i/c 'A' Coy) was wounded.  All the wounded were brought back except L/Cpl O'ROURKE, in spite of repeated attempts by RAMC stretcher-bearers.

It was estimated that at least six enemy were killed or wounded in the whole action.

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