WOLSEY

INTENTION OF PATROL

To drop near the triangle of roads COMPIEGNE – CLERMONT -SENLIS and report on enemy movement by road, rail or river and any other information of military value in this area. Patrol consisted of:- Lieut C. McDEVITT, Lieut. POIZAT (French Liaison Officer), L/Cpl MORGAN, Sigmn SLADE, and Sigmn FENN.

26/27 August 44.

Took off in Stirling at 2230hrs and arrived area DZ MOULIN approx. 0030 hrs to find no lights though reception was arranged. Dropped blind to 2nd DZ pre-arranged, about 0115 hrs. Had 3 bicycles pushed out first. High drop on fairly dark night. All Phantom personnel released kitbags OK and made good landings. French officer twisted his ankle when his kitbag remained on his leg. Patrol closed in within 20 minutes, and moved to cover of small wood taking all equipment, where we laid till dawn, sleeping in turns.

27 August 44

I recced the area at first light and found out location to be N 334063. We then collected the 3 bicycles, prepared them for action and hid the chutes. No sign of our food container which should have dropped with the bikes. Searched for it till 0800 hrs as we each took only one 24 hrs ration. Contacted Base on WT and reported posn.  When villagers arrived to work in the fields we enrolled their help to look for the containers. They, however, passed on the news of our arrival and soon we were overwhelmed by the locals, all anxious to help or feed us.

Finally, the cure of the village (FANCIERES) arrived. He was the Resistance Chief and most efficient. He chased off all the locals, fetched a farm cart and took us, hidden in it, to his chapel where we ate, washed, sent messages, slept and reorganised.

He declared reception had been arranged at MOULIN and was most disappointed at losing the 20 containers which would have dropped with us on lights.

At dusk he provided 2 guides who led patrol round secondary roads and fields to our operational area. We covered 15km by 0200 hrs and passed the night in a wood at N 361986, Noted much German transport heading east on CLERMONT-COMPIEGNE road, which we crossed.

28 August 1944

Made recce and decided on HQ in wood where we’d slept. Water scarce and local farm not too keen to help. Contacted Resistance and arranged RV with Chief. Chief called himself VENGEANCE and agreed to provide FFI parties at points I specified, to write reports under headings provided, eg Time, place, direction of movement, speed, type of vehicles, etc.

Arranged a food supply with him, and guides for personal recces. There were no organised Maquis in the area and little armed Resistance.

The area was divided into sectors of Resistance with very little cohesion between sectors.

This arrangement worked well and reports came in regularly at 0800 and 2100 hrs, neatly written out, and sign.

At 2200 hrs tried to contact resistance chief of village of CANLY nearby, but he was terrified and did not answer the door. Locals were helpful but dubious of our authenticity. There were Germans in strength 1 mile away and a small detachment in the village itself.

29 August -1 September 44

From then till the Americans over-ran us, we had regular routine during which the reports came in, were checked, coded and sent off, interspersed with personal recces to check the accuracy of reports and to “see for ourselves”.

All this time the Germans were withdrawing in increasing haste and at nights the main roads were crowded with motorised and traffic. By day, horse-drawn and cyclist columns used the secondary roads and tracks, all heading NE and E.

1 September 1944

At 1500 hrs at N 356987 contacted armed recce unit of 1 US Army to whom I gave a report on conditions in the area and answered their questions to best of my knowledge. They wirelessed this information back to their C.P.

1-4 September 44

For the next three days we helped the FFI (which had become very prominent) in hunting down the few Boche left in hiding. We receive further instructions by WT and moved on 4 Sept to HQ 21 Army Gp.

Photographs from SAS Phantom Patrol McDevitt private archive

SAS Phantom and Lt Poizat with French civilian (Charles McDevitt)
SAS Phantom patrol with local school children (Charles McDevitt)
US Troops arrive to village liberated by SAS Phantom (Charles McDevitt)