Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Where Do We Go from Here?


As you can see from the map above, sorry if it seems a bit busy, from the 14th of August (dashed red line) to the 25th of that same month (solid red line), German resistance west of the Seine River essentially collapsed. While there was still fighting going on, primarily against German rear guards as what was left of the German 7th Army and the Panzer Army under the command of SS General Sepp Dietrich scrambled desperately to get across the Seine River.

Men were still fighting and dying though a lot of unit movements were more administrative than combat related. As the Germans fled, the Allies had to stay on their heels, give them no chance to regroup. Much of the War Diary entries of the 6th Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers (Sgt Wallace's outfit) during this period tell of movements on foot and by truck from one location to another, until eventually the unit crosses the Seine. Resistance is met, casualties are taken, but nothing like the scale of the fighting in Normandy around Caen.

Path of the 6th Bn, RSF

The War Diary speaks of long treks by truck and on foot, periods of heavy rain, tales of other units occupying their planned bivouacs for the night (leaving the troops to find what cover they might from the elements), and very little in the way of fighting. For example, here's the War Diary entries for the 24th and 25th of August:
24 Aug
The Bn area at DAMBLAINVILLE was in some low lying fields off the main rd. Heavy rain fell during the night but the Bn had rigged up good bivouac shelters and emerged damp rather than wet. Owing to the congested state of the rds fwd no move took place before 1600 when the Bde moved to an area SW of ORBEC 6572, the Bn being allotted the area of the village VIEL 5768. We arrived late in the evening just as it was getting dark and found a congestion of Canadians clearing out of the area. Bn HQ and most of the coys found accommodation in houses, however the night was fine. The CO was warned to attend Bde "O" Gp at 0700 hrs on 25 August and the Bn was warned to expect to move at 0900 hrs.
A "congestion" of Canadians, odd way of describing an ally, n'est-ce pas? I get it though, a long day on the road and you arrive as it's getting dark and you have to wait for another unit to clear out before you can settle in. Just to do it all again the next day...
25 Aug
A very trying day involving a move of approx 35 miles, embussed in TCVs which took from 0900 hrs till 2400 hrs 25/26 August. The Bde moved via BERNAY 8078 and BEAUMONT-LE-ROGER 9376 to the general area of LE NEUBOURG 0263. The rds were crammed with traffic and very dusty. The bridges over the river LA ISLE at BEAUMONT-LE-ROGER had not been repaired by the time we got there and such as remained would not carry TCVs, in consequence the Bn debussed and marched the last 10 miles to a reverse slope position immediately SW of IVILLE 0486. Very little information was available about the enemy, however a general air of optimism prevailed and COs were warned to be prepared to recce fwd for crossings over the river SEINE. This project was abandoned later. The Bn was widely dispersed and could do little more than cover the rds and obvious approaches, however it was generally understood though not confirmed, that an American Armd Div was deployed NE of our positions.
Note that TCV stands for Troop Carrying Vehicle, far too much bother to identify the type of truck I suppose, but that's the Army for you, but it was probably one of these -

A Bedford QL truck leaves a raft after crossing the Rhine near Feldwick.

On the 27th, the battalion was prepared to launch an assault crossing of the Seine River, the War Diary records the following for the remainder of August -
27 Aug
The Bn moved to ST LUBIN 1989 at 1000 hrs and harboured in some thick woods. 227 Bde were ordered to secure a crossing over the SEINE at ANDE 2890 at 1800 on 27 Aug. Various alternative plans were in store for us but at 1815 an LO arrived and gave orders that we were to be at immediate notice to move and secure a further crossing over the river. No further details were available at the moment. At 2000 hrs the Bn moved by march route, under the RSM, to a FAA in the area of some farm buildings 277935 NE of PORTEJOIE 2892. Meanwhile the CO gave out his orders and conducted officers on a brief recce before dark. Briefly the plan was as follows:- The Bn were to cross the SEINE at PORTEJOIE and establish a bridgehead at HERQUEVILLE. The crossing was to be made in assault boats with two coys ("C" and "D") up; transport was divided into priority routes, the first group being 15 vehs which were to include the rear link and 4 6 pr guns while other gps were organised by the MTO on the priority by which they were required within the bridgehead.
28 Aug
Zero hr was ordered at 0030 hrs. The crossing was made almost without opposition, "A" Coy were unfortunate and had two boats shot up by an isolated automatic weapon and lost 1 officer and 8 ORs, fwd coys did not consolidate their final objectives till after dawn on 28 Aug as the thick scrub and high cliffs proved almost impenetrable in the dark. However, by 0800 hrs on 28 Aug the Bn had firmly established the bridgehead and had started to ferry tpt across. During the morning the remainder of the marching tps of the Bde were ferried across. At 1500 hrs the KOSB took over the Bn positions and the Bn was ordered to stand by for a night advance and attack on SENNEVILLE 3197 - the reason why the RSF were again to be used for this action was that no other Bn in the Bde had yet got its "F" and "A" Echelon tpt across the river. At 0830 the Bn moved to a FAA at 306945 slightly South of the fwd tps of 227 Bde who had by now cleared the wood 3194. The CO took Coy Comds on a recce during the move of the Bn but did not manage to see much of the ground.
29 Aug
At 0030 hrs 29 Aug the Bn advanced in the following order:- "B" "D" "C" "HQ" "A" Coys with the object of establishing itself on the high ground EAST of the wood 3196 and SE of SENNEVILLE prior to an assault at first light. The advance was completely successful and by 0200 hrs the high ground was occupied without major incident, a few small enemy posts had been met but no casualties were sustained by our tps. Just before reaching the final positions on the high ground "D" Coy, who had been passed into the lead, found themselves some 500 yds too far WEST and at the same time bumped into a small enemy post. They brought heavy LMG fire to bear on the enemy and then swung EAST to correct their positions. The effect of this manoeuvre was to puzzle the enemy as to our line of adv and flares were sent up from several directions by enemy who presumably thought they were being outflanked. These enemy posts subsequently withdrew before dawn. At 0700 hrs the fwd coys moved in to clear and occupy the village of SENNEVILLE and at 0800 hrs "A" Coy started to clear the large wood 3196 immediately SOUTH of the village. By 0900 hrs the village had been occupied and by 1200 hrs the wood was reported clear by "A" Coy. Remainder of the day was spent digging in and improving our positions, two small recce patrols were sent fwd to the villages of AMFREVILLE-SOUS-LES-MTS 3098, ORGEVILLE 3298 and AMFREVILLE-LES-CHAMPS 3498, these patrols reported the villages to be very lightly held. Throughout the day it poured with rain but the bulk of the Bn were under cover in barns and houses so did not suffer unduly.
30 Aug
A day spent at one-third alertness and the remainder resting. Tpt was ordered to keep off the rds as 53 Div was passing through 15 Div. Throughout the day heavy showers fell. The Bde Comd visited the Bn and told the CO that we could anticipate remaining at SENNEVILLE for a further 3 or 4 days.
31 Aug
A fine sunny day.
So for the Lowland Scots of the 6th battalion, the month ends on a positive note, "A fine sunny day."

Other than losing an officer and 8 "ORs" (military speak for "Other Ranks," which usually denotes junior enlisted men, though can apply to all enlisted men) on the 28th during the crossing, the latter part of August was hectic, though relatively combat free. I get a kick out of the bitching about other units in the War Diary, which is, after all, an official document.

I can't really find anything on the activities of the Big Red One during this time period. I get the impression from some sources that they were mostly moving on trucks towards the Seine as part of Lieutenant General Courtney Hodges' 1st Army assigned to the VII Corps under Major General J. Lawton Collins, "Lighting Joe" as he was known. Rest assured, Sgt Brandt and his squad are alive and well, looking forward to seeing Paris. Of course, they will be sorely disappointed as Paris will be left to the French 2nd Armored Division to liberate. Their colleagues in the 28th Infantry Division will get to march through the city, but with no time for wine and mademoiselles. Much to the disappointment of many a GI.

I've rather lost track of Sgt Fitzhugh and his Firefly, no doubt they will show up again once everyone is across the Seine and Paris has fallen. Things are still being organized in the headlong pursuit of the Germans. No doubt Monty and his staff know precisely where they are.

The men of Lindner's Tiger crew are back in Germany at the Panzerschule at Paderborn. They managed to escape the Falaise Pocket and the pursuit across France. We shall see them again near a place called Arnhem.

All of which leads me to ask myself, where do I go from here with the book, this thing you've been reading and commenting on since early June? So far I have roughly 330 pages of work, I know, I copied all of the posts to Microsoft Word over the weekend. There are many photographs which I can use on the blog (Fair Use and all that) but cannot use in a published work intended for sale. (Dinnae fash ye-selves, all you lads and lasses who've been following along since day one, back in June, will get a free copy, provided it ever gets published.)

The end of the Battle of Normandy seems a logical place to end the first book, which has a lot of gaps and the like to fill in between all the posts you've read so far in order to make it a viable book, for publishing that is. Yes, I'm going to work on that. But Part Two, or the second book if you will, begins soon. I just need a bit of a break.

As I've mentioned before, being creative takes some work, and (and this is a big and) I'll be traveling next week for to see my newest grandchild whose arrival is imminent, so The Nuke assures us. The newest member of the tribe will be her first child and my sixth grandchild. Second grandson by the way.

It's an event eagerly awaited and my head isn't fully in the writing game at the moment. So there is that. I've a lot on my plate but I'll get it under control. I love this writing thing and the response I've had to this tale of people at war. It may be historically based, but in truth, it's a story about people at its core.

So, we'll see how it all plays out.

Stay tuned...


  1. Wow! It looks like I am first today!! Cool!!
    I am glad you have reached the end of book one...I needed some good beach reading material for next week when I get to go to "The Beach"...so thank you!! :) Things have been crazy enough in my world that I haven't been able to read every evening's selection, so I said Nope, gonna wait and read all of it when I get time. So I have just been skimming over to get the overall highlights. Now I will be able to read all the details!!
    Also good to know that you are breaking it up into volumes--love big thick long books--but they do get heavy and my hands do turn numb when reading for a few hours...hell to get old sometimes.
    Enjoy your trip South, and ya know pics of cute grandsons are a requirement, right??

    1. Yes Suz, you win the coveted First Comment Award. Which means, I answer your comment first... 🙄

      I like to read while I eat, when I'm dining alone of course, and try holding a big thick book with one hand while attempting to eat pasta! So while I like big books, and I cannot lie, smaller ones are convenient.

      Pictures of the newest member of the family will be forthcoming. This is pretty exciting.

  2. Thank you for some very fine reading

  3. the pace that the Scots kept up... no wonder those guys was pass out when they closed their eyes. Wow. Made me sleepy just reading about it.

    And the tale thus far is very good. I really do like your style of writing. Very readable and keeps my interest.

    Congrats Grampa!

    1. I was going to write about the travels of the Scots, but their War Diary tells the tale in stark terms, so I went with that.

      Thanks STxAR!

  4. FWIW it might be interesting "prologue" to have short vignettes about your primary and secondary characters in pre-invasion experiences--pre-war, boot camp, etc. to see what they were like. Just a thought.

  5. Well done, Sarge - good overall strategy for the storytelling. I also like Unknown's suggestion about pre-invasion experiences of a few of the main characters, perhaps in a flashback format.
    Another suggestion would be to touch upon a few of the other areas that developed after Normandy - you already mentioned Arnhem, maybe Ludendorff Bridge, Battle of the Bulge, the advance up eastern France from Marseilles through Strasbourg into southern Germany by 14th AD and their liberation of concentration camps? AAchen (nasty!) and Cologne?

    1. There are many battles left to be fought between the end of the Battle for Normandy and the raving lunatic blowing his brains out in a bunker under Berlin. So far I'm letting the main characters lead me through the narrative. They are assigned to particular units and I don't see that changing. So Dragoon and the campaign in which my late Uncle Charlie fought are out of the picture. Except perhaps a mention in passing.

      The war is by no means over.

  6. Great job Sarge!
    Congratulations on the addition to the clan!
    Boat Guy

  7. I have really enjoyed the story! Taking the facts and using your imagination to blend them into a story is a gift.

  8. I see that during this time frame Pattons 3rd is around Le Mans. Dad was with them.
    Will there be any future mentions of them?

    1. Only in passing as none of the main characters are in 3rd Army. But you never know when I might be inspired to add more characters...

  9. ...and then when you're done with that...
    It's your book(s), write it however you want.
    I wish I could still talk to my uncle and ask about what he was doing between the time he was at "Torch" and when he was at Tinian.
    There's gotta be quite a tale.

    1. Yup, there's a lot that went on between those two events!

  10. Amateurs talk tactics, but professionals talk logistics.

    Isn't this about the time for the Red Ball Express to keep the Army on the move? Not as exciting and far less blood and guts than exchanging fire with the other side, but the sweat, exhaustion and dedication to duty is the same. Gas and ammo are the headline cargo, but chow, water, various grades of oil, clothing, medical, engineering and humanitarian stuff all had to be moved. Bridging ops included pontoon and other types. Airfields advanced into the continent with their attendant logistics needs, (along with luxurious accommodations for their maintenance crews...)

    Much of the cargo still came over the Mulberries, after crossing the channel, often after traveling from flyover country in the U.S where nearly every company made war goods of some sort. Cargo moved in the ubiquitous 6x6 deuce and a halfs down to jeeps and trailers and up to tractor trailers and monster trucks.

    Wounded from the front went thru a long pipeline from the front all the way back to the states where massive Army hospitals were built, even in remote locations to care for the more seriously wounded/permanently disabled.

    Family members back home had to contend with shortages, rationing, and unaccustomed work ("Rosie," et al) which the probably COULD mention in letters, while the GI's letters were closely censored.

    Lot of stories which could be told. All were important, but some were less glamorous than others.

    1. Some really good ideas here. Now you all are making me think, I like that!

    2. That is exactly a long lines that I was thinking especially with the red ball Express. It might be interesting to include I'll look at race relations in world war II. If I understand correctly much of the red ball Express was made up of African American drivers and mechanics. Plus there had to be some Germans left behind somewhere. on the logistical front now is the time to get ready for winter as the Germans often forgot about. Transforming the beaches from invasion points 2 supply points had to involve a lot of work. and if I might include a point of personal privilege there would be a good opportunity to include the coast guard and port management. So far the story while great has focused on the pointy end of the spear and most people made up the shaft! But it's your book and you're doing a great job.

    3. Covering the logistical aspects of the war will be done but not directly. Not many people are interested in the logistical tail, though it is one of the most important (if not the most important) factors of waging war. I'll think about it, might make an interesting side story to show what was going on to support the men at the tip of the spear.

    4. (Don McCollor)...A fitting tribute to the Red Ball was that they broke down, but never braked...

    5. So it is said, hard to believe though.

  11. You could also touch on some of the needless deaths that occur in war, stupid new guy going behind a tree and stepping on a mine, or someone falling asleep and slipping off a track, some supply guy getting crushed. Or not.

    The rapid advance and little action is hard to portray in a written story. Nobody really likes long winding passages about some boring subject, unless one is Robert Jordan or perhaps Herman Melville. Neither of whom I really like as they both seem or seemed to write per word count. At least David Drake makes his grand expositions somewhat interesting.

    Who knows about the other units? Did they do stand down and week long rest and refit that early in the land war?

    1. Also good points. We lost one guy from Offutt in the first Gulf War. He fell asleep on the flight line and was run over by a truck.

    2. One of my grandmothers brothers was shot in his sleep. By a comrade. Over a dispute from a game of cards(so read the death certificate)!! Lots of strange and unnecessary deaths in war that just don’t make print or celluloid. Hell.

    3. Hundreds of young men, firearms, stressful situations, accidental injuries and deaths are practically guaranteed.

      A dispute over a game of cards, sad so very sad.

  12. (Don McCollor)[not to steal your narrative]...Coming up on the second invasion of France on 15 August, when the American 7th Army and the French 1st Army landed in Southern France...

    1. True, however my characters are further north. Plenty of war left.

  13. Great reading, Sarge. Thanks for putting in all the hard work.


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