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1st Battalion Irish Guards – Report on the actions of No. 3 Company on 3rd/4th February 1944

No. 3 Company Night 3/4th February 1944

Written by No.2718336 Sergeant Dunne J. - No. 3 Company.


While I was standing in my platoon area on the night of the 3rd February at approximately 2230 hrs I heard the pre-arranged signal from the forward observation post. Knowing that an attack was imminent I immediately ordered the platoon to "stand to". As quickly as possible I ran round to the officer in command of the 4.2-inch mortar OP, which was in the house in the rear of my platoon. I informed him that the enemy wore attacking in strength and told him that a defensive plan must be laid on immediately. He replied "Surely it isn't necessary", I repeated my order, and left him to return to my platoon position.

On encountering the heavy enemy barrage on my return, I took shelter in a nearby cowshed until I could cross the open ground to my platoon. On reaching my platoon I found Guardsman Burke to be badly wounded, lying in his trench. I lifted him from the trench and sent another Guardsman for the stretcher bearers. Then Captain McInerney joined me. I explained to him that I had already given orders to the mortar officer for the defensive fire to be brought down. He immediately left me to return to Company HQ, and I did not see him again.

Whatever happened I do not know, but I saw the enemy at the far edge of the gully. My platoon at once engaged the enemy, as did No. 15 Platoon simultaneously on my left, joined by the attached machine-guns. The hayricks in front of 14 and 16 Platoons positions were set alight and heavy fire was brought to bear upon the front of the positions by the Vickers machine guns.

On my platoon front, the enemy seemed to have moved over to both flanks, as only a number of enemy snipers remained. Next, I observed the enemy attacking Coy HQ, from the rear, and after approximately thirty mins the firing quietened down. I then decided to withdraw my platoon to Battalion HQ, to support them in defence of their positions, knowing that 14 and 15 Platoons had been overrun.

After giving orders to my section commanders of my intentions we moved forward, then swung to the right. We made good progress until we reached the railway, then we came under heavy fire, which I thought came from our own troops. I shouted to them and then found that the embankment was strongly held by the enemy, thus making our object almost an impossibility. I left two sections of my platoon in the gully, which runs from the road to the railway, whilst Lance Sergeant Ashton, DCM, Lance Corporal Wilson, five Guardsman and myself went forward to the high ground. On reaching this we were pinned down by fire from both flanks and the rear, and Lance Corporal Wilson (who was the link-man) reported to me that the two sections in the gully had been cut off. I remained with this section on the high ground overnight and at 0300 hrs the following morning Lance Sergeant Ashton and Guardsman Swift were badly wounded by enemy machine gun fire. The enemy by this time had encircled the section; and having exhausted our ammunition we were taken prisoners, and put in the gully.

We were later moved to a house, leaving Lance Sergeant Ashton, as we were refused permission to carry him with us. Guardsman Swift was able to accompany us, with help. We had been in the house for about an hour when one of our tanks opened up on it, causing the enemy to seek safety in the trenches outside. We were left under a guard of two Germans, whom we overpowered, and made our escape, taking them with us.

We made our way back by the gully, taking two more prisoners. We passed through the Mortar Platoon, who were in the gully under the railway line. On reaching the road we handed over the prisoners, and Guardsman Swift and myself were conveyed by carrier to the MDS.

Signed:- Sergeant Dunne, Commanding, No. 13 Platoon.