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8. Operation Pistol A2

A2 Report
(Original images courtesy of The National Archives)
                      OPERATION PISTOL A 2.


Party Sjt. Williams, Cpl. Bovio, Pct. Frost.

                  We baled out at approx 23.30 hrs on the night 15/16th
Sep 44, from a height of about 700 ft.
                  I was No 7 and saw only the fellow in front of me
when falling, but no one following.   Whilst dropping I only just
avoided a Tiger Tank which was going along the road, and fell at
point Q 284485.   As I was pulling my leg kit bag into the ditch on the
side of the road, I heard several men approaching, and being unable to
get over the 5ft high barbed wire fence unobserved I began cutting my
kit bag open.   Taking my machine gun and ruck sack I took what cover I could
a few yards along the ditch.   One of the approaching three figures
came to within five yards and challenged me several times, without reply.
Whereupon they opened fire on my parachute, believing me to be there.
I killed the nearest German and wounded the other two who were on the
road.   Then picking up my discarded equipment I succeeded in getting
over the fence into a nearby wood, where I had hoped to contact my party.
On approaching the wood I was challenged with the word "Fish", Lieut.
Darwall's password for the whole party and I replied "Chips", the appropriate
answer.   The challenging party proved to be Lieut. Darwall and four of
his men.   None of my own party had arrived, but having heard considerable
sporadic fire on the D.Z., I imagined that they were being chased.   I
left Lieut. Darwall to go along the edge of the wood and see if I could
contact any of my party, but as none appeared I rejoined Lieut. Darwall.
Lieut. Darwall, I and the remainder of the party proceeded to Q 332495,
in a wood where he had arranged to wait two nights for his men if they
lost contact when dropping.

17th Sep.
                  Lieut. Darwall gave me Cpl. Bovio and Pct. Frost from
his party and accompanied by them I headed South at about 23.00 hrs.
At the same time Lieut. Darwall took his depleted party away in a northerly
         Pct. Frost who dropped No 3 from the plane, saw the tank passing
beneath him, but fell about 300 yards away from it in a tree near the side
of the road.   He managed to get down safely, and gathering up all his kit
joined Lieut. Darwall who, after picking up the rest of his party with
the exception of Cpl. Fedosseff, made their way to the woods.
Lieut. Darwall had hurt his knee when he landed on a road junction, so
Pct. Frost returned with him to collect the officer's kit and to search
again for Cpl. Fedosseff.   Being unsuccessful they concluded that perhaps
Cpl. Fedosseff had met Sgt. Williams men, who were also missing.   On the
way back they heard firing over their heads.   After I joined his party
Pct. Frost heard Germans challenging someone else. (This was probably
Pct. Mace : see report A 3.)

Sep 18th.
          I with my two men came across a disused French pill box at
Q 332471, near the edge of the wood, and rested for the remainder of the
day in the pill box; as it was very suitable for shelter from the rain
and cold.   That same night we headed South to the main road at Hellimer,
map ref Q 325444, but observed very little traffic during a wait of two
hours.   Before proceeding to a nearby wood, Q 320435, to lie up for the
night we attached time pencils (24 hr delay) to two telegraph poles
which we heard go off only an hour later.

Sep 19th.
          We turned North during the night as we heard enemy small arms
fire, which we thought might be S.A.S. in need of help and eventually
returned to a small clearing between the woods to which we had first set
out after dropping, Q 322495; here we lay up for the remainder of the
night.   I had hoped to meet more of my party there.

Sep 20/21st.
         The night of the 20/21st we blew up a concrete pylon, carrying
H.T. cables and continued marching South via the village of Francaltroff,
Q 314407, to the wood the other side of the railway at Q 323392.
From here we observed the line for three days.   After learning that it
was used quite a lot at night(4 trains up and 4 trains down) we decided
to operate.

Sep 23rd.
         We decided that the place at which we could cause the most
damage was in a cutting at Q 325398, where we had observed two trains
pass each other every night at 19.45 hrs.   Unfortunately we were
disturbed whilst attempting to place our charges at this particular
point, and had to retire.   Meanwhile the trains had passed so all we
could do was lay the charges for the next train.   We later heard an
explosion, but were unable to observe the results for we were aware that
SS troops were strong in the neighbourhood, and likely to search for us
with dogs.   We subsequently learned that it was a cattle train which had
been blown up; cattle which had been driven to Bernestroff were being
entrained for Germany.   Two days later the line was clear and had
double sentries patrolling every fifty yards.

Sep 24th.
         During the morning we marched South again and came across a
deserted building at Q 316361, where we managed to dry our clothes and
get a few meals of mushrooms, which we found in the surrounding fields.

Sep 26th.
        On the morning of the 26th we made our way again towards the
main railway line near the village of Nebing, but after several hours
observation, discovered that it was not being used.   A closer inspection
of the track showed that it was in a very dilapidated condition.

Sep 27th.
        We set off in a Westerly direction during the morning and crossed
the main road to Dieuze.   We later found a single track line which ran
to that town, but it was also rusty.   We lay up that night in a nearby
wood, Q 268325.

Sep 28th.
        We moved on towards the South in an attempt to destroy something
more valuable, and reached a farm at Q 289286.   The people here were kind
enough to sell us food and give us shelter for a few days.   It was at
this place that we heard of the result of our railway line charges of the
23rd.   This family had their three sons living with them
who were deserters from the German Army (2 from the Russian front only
a few months previously, and the other from the Metz front).   The mother
and father spoke only German, but the remainder spoke French and
German.   The fourth son, lived in the village of Vergaville, and
periodically visited his family while we were there.   It was from this
man that we discovered that a German Pz Div was on that front, and about
1,000 poor quality troops with a General were in the village of Vergaville.
Before we had arrived a party of enemy troops had been moved down from
Metz to be billeted here but were put into the front line immediately.

Sep 30th.
          My party marched West through the woods to a point, Q 176255,
and lay up there observing the artillery exchange from the front.
We also heard Germans shooting into the bushes and all other likely
places for us, as we had unsuccessfully attempted to blow up a few
motor vehicles with tyre bursters which had been set off by tanks

Oct 2nd.
          Whilst setting off in the evening in a Southerly direction
we came upon S.A.S. boot tracks in a lane leading to a farm, at Q 173239.
We followed these tracks in the hope of meeting some of our party.
When approaching the farmhouse we saw a couple of Germans having a meal,
so we retired and hid until they had gone.   We then entered the farm
and learned from the inhabitants that S.Q.M.S. Alcock and his party had
been there 2 days previously.   We had a meal at this farm and later
went through the German lines, where we were fired on, at Q 155182, and
approached the American lines, who also opened fire on hearing us.
We found a hut about halfway between both lines and lay up that night.

Oct 3rd.
          I, with Pct. Frost and Cpl. Bovio contacted the Americans at
Q 130180, at 08.00 hrs.