HOUNDSWORTH

Diary   

10 June

Two sticks, each of 10 men, were to be dropped in MORVAN as recce party for ‘A’ Sqn 1 SAS. One party under command of MAJOR FRASER MC, the other under command Lieut COOPER MM. Both parties arrived on Fairford airfield at 2130hrs.

Took off in Stirling at 2230 hrs, passed over bridgehead and was able to see the craft formed up below. Some flak but a good trip, nobody being sick.

11 June

Presume pilot could not see ground as we received order 25 minutes to go, and so until 4, 3, 2, 1 minute ‘GO’ by Sgt THOMPSON the despatcher. The aircraft did not look for DZ but made straight run in. Very high drop above clouds and I saw lights a good distance away when I came through the cloud. I had great difficulty in releasing my kitbag and the rope tore and burnt my hands. Soft landing on side of steep hill, in a bush which tore my trousers from bottom nearly to the top.

          I contacted the stick in the following order:-  Ralli, Wood, Brinton, Lt-Col HASTINGS, Canadian Sgt, HARRIS, FURNESS, BABINGTON in tree, MARSON. Searched for Major FRASER and KENNEDY until 0730hrs. Lt-Col HASTINGS had injured ankle so moved party and kit to wood. The men were very tired so they slept during the morning whilst I tried o find our location, without success. Sent off pigeon and reported situation on WT. Sgt tried to locate containers with our kit and SF wireless, but was unsuccessful. Phantom carried 2 Jedburgh sets in preference to personal kit in rucsacs in their kitbags and both sets were in good condition. There were also 3 24 hr ration packs per man. We buried our ‘chutes and decided to move south until we could find out our location. We were near a main road and town and so expected search parties to be sent out to look for Major FRASER and KENNEDY, but had no success. At 1400 hrs moved off by compass through thick wood. The going was slow owing to Lt-Colonel HASTINGS’ bad leg. We slept during the night.

12 June

Continued to move south in heavy rain. Came out of wood and found our location to be N 115530, so we must have landed west of LORMES which was approx. 25 miles away from the DZ. Reported on WT. WT crew were working in a clearing 75 yds from road when two Gendarmes came along on bicycles, stopped at the clearing and appeared to look straight at the crew, who remained still. They either thought our men were Germans or the camouflaged smocks were so good that they were concealed. Traffic on the road was considerable all the morning. We received pre-arranged RV N296527 from Lt-Col HASTINGS. It was decided that Lt-Col HASTINGS and Sgt would leave us to contact maquis, which was their task, and I would proceed with the rest of the party to the RV. We agreed that if we did not contact each other within a week we would be at the RV at 0200 hrs on every even day. I gave Lt-Col HASTINGS a Jed set and some rations. We parted in the afternoon. We proceeded very cautiously because  we heard MG, rifle and pistol firsing all day in our wood. We thought it was parties out searching for us but afterwards learnt that it was a battle between Germans and a group of maquis. Our plan was to follow the railway marked on map to the west.

13 June.

After searching for railway, it was discovered that the rails had been taken away years ago and the track had disappeared in most places, so we marched through woods on compass. Arrived at SOMMES N 151530. Received a message stating Lieut COOPER and party at N3346 so decided to join them. Moved south and slept in wood N1351.

14 June. In morning moved to N 132513 and then ti N 126496. Cpl WOOD and I made recce of open country intending to move west during night. Received message in evening to say COOPER would pick us up with MT so gave RV N 132513 on WT because of shortage of water in present location, and moved to this RV in the evening.

15 June.

Rations were getting short and the French we had so far approached had received us coldly.  Either they thought we were Germans dressed as British or else it was not a maquis area. Nobody in the party could speak French. BABINGTON, MARSON and FURNESS made recce for food and returned with seed potatoes which had been planted. No transport arrived. We received message in the afternoon to contact COOPER that evening 25 miles away. We replied we could not get there.

16 June.

Still no transport so we decided to move west at 2100 hrs and advised base. Rained hard and very dark. We saw very lights and flares so rested in field until sawn.

17 June.

Moved at 0430hrs to N 2052. Rained hard. Patrol rested in wood whilst I made recce of village. Went up to sign post in centre of village and the inhabitants who saw me went on as though I was not there. RALLI and I then proceeded to an isolated farm about 1 ½ miles away for food. We were made very welcome when the farmer was once certain that we were British. A Jew and his mother were then Brother in, having previously left by the back door before we had been allowed in, as they thought we were Germans. He could speak English and was hiding in the farm. His father had been killed by the Germans. He told us it would be safe to move on the roads during the night and the farmer gave us good rations and produced some wine. On our return to the wood wefound the rest of our party drinking wine with three farmers who had found them in the wood. They promised to bring us a meal at 2000hrs so I decided to stay and move by road during the night. At  2000 hrs a farmer arrived with maquis truck and BSA combination, and took us to Maquis JEAN where we met Lt-Col HASTINGS and Major FRASER. We then marched to Major FRASER’s HQ atN 2659, arriving at 0010 hrs.

18 June.

Still raining and everybody soaked. COOPER and party had also arrived at HQ so both recce parties were safe. DANGER, HARRISON, JACKSON 202 wireless channel were there but were not having great success. We formed into one station and made contact. We always put our aerial in direction of base station with set nearest base, but in practice it has proved correct on this site we had good contact. We built shelters of wood and leaves for cover.

19 June-5 September.

During this period 2 Patrol SAS Phantom 102 link was with Major FRASER and ‘A’ Sqn 1 SAS HQ, so that all our movements will be in his report. On 10 Jul 202 channel Cpl DANGER HARRISON JACKSON went with Capt. WISEMAN’s troops to DIJON area and worked with him until recalled. Cpl DANGER was recalled on 11 Aug to go with Lt-Col MAYNE and Major MELOT to bring in ‘C’ Sqn. Cpl DANGER is still with ‘C’ Sqn. During period 10/12 Aug Rfn RALLI took a Jed set with Lt-Col HASTINGS and Leiut McCREADY to recce LG for Dakota.

          During the operation the Phantom patrol maintained its objective, ie continuous communications with base. 102 link sent the following number of messages

June                     64

July                      169

August                199

September          35

No record of messages received kept.

In addition, the patrol manned the Eureka and organised DZs in ‘A’ Sqn HQ area.

6 September.

The great move home started. The convoy consisted of 18 civilian cars, 2 German heavy trucks and 6 jeeps as protection. We expected to meet German convoys moving east but got through to JOIGNY without any mishap. Base wanted a WT set to go with Lieut. McCREADY to AUXERRE airfield for Dakota landings, so 2 patrol remained with him and the rest of ‘A’ Sqn went on to ORLEANS under command of Capt. WISEMAN. The patrol had two cars and spent the night in JOIGNY.

7 September.

Returned to AUXERRE with Lieut McCREADY. Received great welcome as we were the first British troops to arrive there. Inspected airfield. There were several FW 190 in hangars and at edge of airfield which had been damaged by the Germans before they left. The barracks were not badly damaged. I brought back a map of the airfield and handed it in to the ‘I’ office at MOOR PARK.

8 September.

Went to airfield intending to stay the night to bring in Dakota but operation cancelled. Met English woman who was hiding on Polish farm. She said the Germans had treated her better than the French. Received orders to return to base, so set off in the cars and reached SENS where we spent the night.

9 September.

Two Peugeots running well. Spent night in LE MANS with Americans who looked after us very well.

10 September.

Reached No.60 Transit Camp near BONYEAUX. Received very promt attention and extra rations because we were SAS troops. Whoever organised the reception of SAS troops in this camp should be complimented.

11 September.

We were not allowed to bring cars over so gave them away. Left FRANCE in LCI at 1630hrs, very rough trip.

12 September.

Arrived NEWHAVEN 0600 hrs and proceeded to MOOR PARK where I received the first real shock ie that I had to write a report before going on leave.