48 Commando RM

Langrune-sur-Mer was costly

The previous page was: "48 Commando Walcheren"

48 Commando RM was the last Commando unit to be formed in World War II. When Montgomery drew up his plans for Operation Overlord he discovered he was one Commando short.

He wanted the Commandos to go through the beachheads and advance against various objectives, i.e., batteries silenced, strongpoints taken out, villages, towns and ports secured ready for the Armies that were following them.

With less than two maybe three months before the planned invasion of Western Europe; which had to take place because the advance in southern Europe was well under way in Italy? A commando unit was required to take out a strongpoint of the highest order at, Langrune-sur-Mer.

The Army was unable to provide a new Commando unit at such short notice, but the Royal Marines true to their tradition could rise to occasion. They agreed to have the new Commando unit ready and equipped for whenever it would be required.

48 Commando Walcheren

Lieutenant-Colonel Moulton

No.48 Commando was to be formed from the Royal Marine Battalion that had returned to the UK and the Royal Marine members of the recently disbanded M.N.B.D.O.. The Command of the Commando was placed in the hands of Lieutenant-Colonel Moulton.

There were eight Commando units landing on D-day, three Army and five Royal Marine. They formed the Special Service Group commanded by Major-General R.G. Sturges, C.B., D.S.O., R.M. The Commandos were divided into two Groups called Nos. 1 and 4 Special service Brigades.

No.4 Special Service Brigade was to land to the west in the area of Lion-sur-Mer and seize a number of coastal villages, including Luc-sur-Mer, Langrune-sur-Mer and St. Aubin-sur-Mer, and then push inland and make itself master of the heavily fortified strongpoint near the radar station at Douvres.

Then they were required to hold the line for forty-eight hours, when they would be relieved.

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The harbour of Port-en-Bessin

No.4 Special Service Brigade under the command of Brigadier B.W. Liecester Royal Marines, consisted of Nos. 41, 46, 47 and 48 Royal Marine Commandos. 47 Commando Royal Marines was detailed to operate in the centre of the invading forces, with the British on one side and the Americans on the other. They had to capture the harbour of Port-en-Bessin.

The Commandos had a rough passage in support infantry landing craft which were inconvenient vessels, for their gangways were narrow and steep, and the landing of bulky equipment was therefore difficult.

True to tradition 48 Royal Marine Commando was the first to land. Dawn revealed a grey sky, the sea was rough, and some of the assaulting flotillas were making heavy weather. H-hour was postponed for three quarters of an hour. Then six infantry landing craft made for land and beached.

On the way in several landing-craft hit the beach obstacles and were sunk. There was a heavy swell and a vicious tidal stream which carried away and drowned men attempting to swim. The beach defences had been almost untouched by the naval and air bombardment.

Heavy fighting and severe losses

48 Commando RM launched the assault on Langrune-sur-Mer after heavy fighting and severe losses success was complete. They moved forward advancing to their given position to hold the line while masses of stores, equipment and men poured ashore ready to continue the move inland when fully organised.

The battle continued; it seemed that the relief originally promised for forty-eight hours after the landing would never come, and that the Special Brigades in their forward positions, their particular functions were forgotten. They would be condemned to share indefinitely the lot of the infantry of the line.

In a way this was a compliment, for the position which they were holding with the 6th Airborne Division, their redoubtable brothers-in-arms, on the left flank of Montgomery's armies, was of critical importance.

It was the pivot upon which the great turning movement to be carried out by the Americans, far awayto the right, ultimately depended. The best troop in the 21st Army Group must hold it. That was why the Green and Red berets remained together till, on the 18th August, the long-for order to advance came at last.

Two attacks had been repelled

No. 4 Brigade was brought in to attack a hill near the village of Dozule; two attacks had been made but both had failed. No. 48 Commando was reinforced by 46 and 47 Commandos.

They were led towards it by their commanding officer, with his compass in hand. "It was a slow and ponderous job and seemed to take hours," records Lieutenant J.C. Marsh, whose account gives a very vivid picture of the night attack by a Commando in the thick woods and copses of that part of Normandy.

"We also seemed to make a 'hell of a noise' with thick hedges, woods and fences to negotiate in pitch darkness. Then luckily for us, it started to drizzle. Coming up the hill we heard an awful moaning. It was a Jerry badly wounded, lying in front of Jerry's forward defence localities. Why he had not been fetched we did not understand? Lieutenant D.T. Burrows crawled forward and clubbed him."

"Unknowingly we had crawled up close covered by a ledge; Jerry didn't know we were there. Captain B. Pierce yelled out "charge!" Pandemonium was let loose in the dark, Commandos were charging and yelling like fury there was some real good language going about. This had not been planned, but had the effect of making Jerry think a whole Brigade was attacking."

"We reached the farm buildings on the top of the hill. The hill was ours, and in the darkness we made a defensive perimeter ready for the usual counter-attack."

Liberation brought delirious greetings

No.48 Commando RM pushed past the village of Dozule and occupied the high ground at point 120, cutting off a number of retreating Germans and destroying their vehicles. Their success would have been greater had their numbers been larger, the Troops were much under strength because of their fallen. Even so, they did well inflicting heavy loses on the enemy.

No.4 Brigade continued to pursue the enemy and completed their advance to the Seine. They met with a heavy engagement at Pont l'Eveque then at St.Maclou. They pressed on liberating town after town, Pavilly, Yerville, Motteville, Yvetot, Bermonville and Valmont.

At each town the population greeted them with delirious enthusiasm, hundreds of 'young women and children marched straight up to them and rapidly deprived them of their cigarettes and cap badges.

Men with green berets on their heads received the heartiest of the crowds, with the females all blowing kisses of welcome.

48 Commando Royal Marines went on to play their part in the seizure of the island of Walcheren.

The next Link below will be: "Two Commandos Part 1"

48 Commando Royal Marines Two Commandos Part 1

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