July 9-10, 1944

July 9 – ABout 1:30 a.m. one German plane swooped low over our camp and gave us a splash of machine gun fire. No one was hurt, but the Plane itself was brought down shortly afterwards. Sunday today – Church Parade in a few minutes. At 12:30 noon we received word to move. We went out and made a recce, went to RCASC called out three trucks and were ready to move off at 3:40 p.m. We travelled west to Crouilly, then south west on the Bayeux Road, to a spot about one mile north of Esquay sur Seulles. It is now 7:30 p.m. and we are all set up in a lovely orchard, a much nicer harbour than the one we left. We are just now stringing up the light. Went down to “Goldsmith,” a concentration center and met and guided 9th F.D.S.(Field Dressing Station) to their harbour.

July 10 – Went to Camilly and Le Fresne-Camilly this morning – worked all afternoon on loading tables. This evening dropped down to 3 CCS and 9FDS. Expect to move in a few days.

The following July 10 recap is from the website The Battle for Normandy at http://www.ddayoverlord.com

July 10, the Northern part of the town of Caen is finally liberated, more than one month after D-Day, whereas the totality of the city was to be precisely captured in the evening of June 6. This delay of 34 days is the proof of the dead end in which the Anglos-Canadians are. Once the Northern sector of Caen (almost entirely destroyed by the bombardments) captured, the British military forces decides to focus on the key position of hill 112, located 3 kilometers South-west of the capital of the Calvados, Caen. This offensive is part of the Jupiter Operation, which aims at boring the front in the valley of Odon, South-west of Caen, and to cross the Orne river in this sector.

The 8th British Corps launches its offensive on July 10 in direction of the hill 112, and if its progression is supported by the fighter-bombers and by the Allied artillery, the German resistance remains very strong and limits the British movements in this sector. Hill 112 is defended by the soldiers of the 2nd SS Armoured Corps, which are conscious of the strategic importance of this position. Indeed, it defends the accesses of the Southern area of Caen, held by the Panzergroupwest led by Eberbach.

The 43th British Infantry division Wessex moves towards the village of Maltot, 6 kilometers South-west of Caen, and whereas it manages to enter the city, the German defenders of the 9th and 10 SS Panzer Division push back the attackers. By using a heavy fire they isolate some British soldiers in the village: the Allies losses are very heavy and they are obliged to fold up a few kilometers in the North of Maltot.

The Americans progress with difficulty to the North of Periers and of Saint-Lo, and this in spite of the intensive bombardments of the aviation and of the Allied artillery. The American soldiers face in this area the very bloody fighting known under the name of the hedgerows war. They painfully leave the marshy area in the South of Carentan and progress untiring, although very slowly.

July 8, 1944: The bombardment of Caen continues

The terrific bombardment and air attacks from last night are continuing. Thee is a roar over the whole front this morning. The report is of fighting in Caen. From Camilly this morning, we could look down on Caen, which seemed to be almost completely enveloped in smoke. The greater part of Corps H.Q., rear is now in – all my Unit is back with me with the exception of an RAP (Regimental Aid Post) at Tac H.Q. and three, 3 ton lorries which are still loaned out for hauling rations to new troops landing.

July 4-7, 1944

July 5 – Gordie Champagne and I in our jeep set out to visit our two detached groups. Were bypassed from Pierpoint to Fontaine-Henry on the east, then south to Thaon, south to Cairon, beyond which we cannot go – then north on the main road and visited Capt. Anderson in his RAP at Camilly, then north to visit Capt. Geggie in his light section set up outside of Le Fresne-Camilly, then back home. This part of the country is becoming very familiar.

July 6 – Main H.Q. Corps is landing today. Was up to Le Fresne-Camilly twice today. No new orders for us. The roads today are completely smothered in convoys going both ways. The news is very encouraging and it looks as if something big is about to start pretty. Terrific bombardment tonight. Several small German air raids.

July 7  – Corps H.Q. Recce arrived during the night. I brought my Light Section home and sent Capt. Carson, Ambulance and two men up to Rear until Geo. McGarry gets in to take over. That will probably be tomorrow. The other Medical Units have not arrived yet. There must have been a very heavy air raid

just beyond the German Lines. There was a steady roar and the sky was filled with Lancasters and Hurricanes coming back with their protective covering of Spitfires. There were hundreds of planes. One apparently hit by German A.A. blew up almost over us and fell to the earth in flames. At least 5 escaped and parachuted down from here it looked as if they would land in the sea. Just after I had written this, another wave of about the same size came over. Caen was one objective. We had several German planes over here after dark.

A Handley Page Halifax of No. 4 Group flies over the suburbs of Caen, France, during a major daylight raid to assist the Normandy land battle during Operation CHARNWOOD. 467 aircraft took part in the attack, which was originally intended to have bombed German strong points north of Caen, but the bombing area was eventually shifted nearer the city because of the proximity of Allied troops to the original targets. The resulting bombing devastated the northern suburbs. Royal Air Force official photographer. This is photograph CL 347 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums (collection no. 4700-19)

A Handley Page Halifax of No. 4 Group flies over the suburbs of Caen, France, during a major daylight raid to assist the Normandy land battle during Operation CHARNWOOD. 467 aircraft took part in the attack, which was originally intended to have bombed German strong points north of Caen, but the bombing area was eventually shifted nearer the city because of the proximity of Allied troops to the original targets. The resulting bombing devastated the northern suburbs. Royal Air Force official photographer. This is photograph CL 347 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums (collection no. 4700-19)

June 28 – July 4, 1944, France

June 28 – Capt. McDonald and Champaigne arrived in my jeep and we moved up to area at Amblie about two miles from Reviers. Some of the trucks arrived that night.

June 29 – At last, all our vehicles are here – we are dispersed around the edges of a field, all camoflaged. The General ordered us to move our tent three times. We are the only Canadian FDS (Field Dressing Station) in France, and the the first Unit of the Second Corps, so are the butts for all the stuff the Generals can think of.

June 30 – Rained very heavily last night – very heavy bombardments going in. The boys are busy tearing down and re-erecting trucks. In a few days all will be back to normal again. Last night a horse lay down on my tent and unfortunately I was in the tent. Today we have a barbed wire fence around the tents. Our M.I.R. is the only thing we have open. We will probably sit this way until the rest of the Corps arrives, but it is not a bad place to sit. Jim McKeller is here as Advance Party for 2 CCS. This afternoon I was visited by Brig. Fenwick, Brig. Farmer and Col. Watston and Col. of the 14th Field Amb. We my be setting up in a few days time. An awful lot of air activity today. We are comfortably situated here.

Google maps

Google maps

July 1/44 – Jim McKeller, a Capt. from Corp H.Q. and myself went forward to the area of Le Fresne-Camilly to recce a harbour for main Corp H.Q. and 6th FDS. The spot chosen is on the main road to Caen about eight miles north west. This afternoon I sent Hans Geggie and his light section as an advance party. We expect to move on Monday July 3rd. We still will not open as a hospital but simply consult.

July 2 – Very quiet day today. Lt. Col. Lockhead of the 17th Light Field Amb was over to visit. We are standing to for a move but may not move until day after tomorrow. Beautifuly dinner today of roast beef and green peas. Very heavy bombardment tonight.

July 3 – Rain pouring down. Drove out to Light Section, then returned in time for Pay Parade. Maj. Coates of 3rd Div Pay Corps had lunch with us. We are not moving today and still have no definite word about tomorrow.

July 4 – Drove out to visit Hans Geggie and his Light Section at Fresne-Camilly this morning. Very heavy bombardment last night and an advance near Caen. Tac. H.Q. moved to Camilly this afternoon – we sent Capt. Anderson, Cpl. Heatley, two men, and ambulance and two 160 lb. tents. We also sent three, 3 ton Lorries to help rations. Will not get my whole Unit together for about one week.

June 23-27, 1944 – Juno Beach

June 23 – Large convoy of transports and Tank Landing Craft are leaving tonight. Air raid last night. We sent a case to shore with acute appendicitis. Concert party on board tonight, conducted by Can. Corps H.Q. – assisted by our orchestra. We expect to sail tomorrow night.

June 24 – We expected to sail but for some unknown reason a large convoy went out but we remained behind. Gen. Simmons was taken off board tonight, we think he is being flown to Normandy. Concert party tonight.

June 25 – Hundreds of planes over today. Church Parade taken by Capt. Walker. No excitement. We expect to sail tonight. 8:05 p.m. – Our men are briefed and we are now pulling out on the Estuary of the Thames. First air attack, but only a fool doodle bug which landed one mile away from us. We expect to enter the Straits of Dover in a couple of hours, so may get a few odd bursts from their long range guns. We expect to in about tomorrow night and will land on Juno Beach, just near Baeux.

June 26 – Uneventful night, we all had to sleep in the hold and it was very stuffy. We have had morning inspection and are now sitting in the Ambulance on deck. It is very rainy and foggy this morning. I imagine about now, we must be somewhere off Worthing in the English Channel. 10 p.m. – we pull in by the Cherboug Penninsula

and drop anchor. The sea is alive with ships of all sorts and descriptions. We are remaining on board tonight. The trip over has been entirely uneventful.

June 27 – We are putting in towards the Beach – but do not know what our next step is. At 8 p.m. a L.C.T. (Landing Craft Tank) pulled alongside and the marching parties climbed by rope ladder to the deck and pulled into shore. The tide was going out so we could not get right in. Our vehicles waded to shore, assisted by a caterpillar and then we were carried to dry land on the same caterpillars. We landed Graye Sur Mer and marched to the Assembly Areas, then marched to “Ellow” a short distance east of Banville, where we bedded down for the night. Several air raids during the night, but none near us. Our two ambulances are down the road about one mile. We expect our full convoy along shortly, when we will all proceed to Amblie.

Captain Earl Bourbonnais, 23rd Field Ambulance, Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps, inoculating Nicole Pierre, Basly, France, ca. 27-28 June 1944. Credit: Lieut. Ken Bell / Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-190148

Captain Earl Bourbonnais, 23rd Field Ambulance, Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps, inoculating Nicole Pierre, Basly, France, ca. 27-28 June 1944. Credit: Lieut. Ken Bell / Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-190148

June 21-22, 1944

June 21 – We are lying in the Thames Estuary with hundreds of other ships, waiting to sail, but as there is a storm in France we cannot land so are waiting here.

June 22 – The Manchester Reg. and ourselves put on a combined concert party tonight. We have our Orchestra on board tonight, conducted by Can. Corps H.Q. – assisted by our orchestra. We expect to sail tomorrow night.

June 20, 1944

Still here, sleeping in a tent. The vehicles have gone to the docks. I believe we go in buses later. Nothing very exciting. At 6 p.m. we load in buses and drove ten miles to dock side, where we loaded on board MTS 132 – a Victory ship. On board is 6th Can. F.D.S., 13th British F.D.S. commanded by a Scottie from Edinburgh named Major McLaren, 211 British Fld. Amb. Col. Logan, 2nd Crops H.Q. (Tactical) and one Co. of Manchester Regiment. Our two ambulances are on deck, so all Officers are living in them. Mac, Dibb, Hans, Ronnie, and I are in one and Howard Ellis, Andy Anderson, Padre Walker, and Paul Carson in the other.

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