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C. Operation Pistol C2

Report by Cpl Hill
 
 
 
 (Original images courtesy of The National Archives)

                     OPERATION  PISTOL  C 2
                     ----------------------

Report by Cpl. Hill G.C.

           We dropped on the night of 15/16th Sep at 23.55 hrs at
Q 410420.   The plane was going from south-east to north-west.  The
stick was dispersed and I contacted S.Q.M.S. Alcock and Cpl. Hannah.
Search parties were sent out for the rest of the stick and Fawthorpe and
Edwards found Capt. Scott and Lieut. Grumbach, as well as Edwards and
Cockburn.
           The planes did not return, as arranged, to drop the panniers
to a signal of D for Drop.
           The party consisting of the following, then set off:
               Capt. Scott.              S.Q.M.S. Alcock
               Lieut.Grumbach            Cpl.     Hannah.
               Cpl.  Hill.
               Pct.  Fawthorpe.          (The remainder of S.Q.M.S.
               Spr.  Edwards.             Alcock's stick had not made
               Pct.  Cockburn.            contact at that time.)
           Capt. Scott told S.Q.M.S. Alcock to go round the D.Z. once more
to look for the remainder of his party.
           As our party was complete we then moved off on our own.  Capt.
Scott was absolutely crippled and could not carry his kit as his ankle
was very badly sprained.   His kit was shared amongst the stick, but in
spite of this he had a terrible time when he moved and I don't know how
he managed to move at all.   We marched to the railway at Q 445427 but
Capt. Scott could not cross it, so we returned to the dike which we had
crossed and which appeared to be a suitable lying-up place.
           On the way there we picked up another of S.Q.M.S. Alcock's
party, Pct. Marczak, who was seen by Pct. Fawthorpe.
           We all slept that night, and in the morning at about 06.00 hrs
Bancroft and Wheeler also joined the party.   They had been heard by Capt.
Scott who recognised their voices and whistled to them.
           The party was by now nine strong and we lay up all day on the
16th in the same place.  Capt. Scott then decided to move into the wood
at Q 423408;  we stayed there and it rained heavily all night.   In the
morning we moved deeper into the wood to Q 435405.   During the night about
twelve trains passed by on the railway, and during the day two small
passenger trains passed.
           Capt. Scott's leg went black up to his knee and his foot and
ankle were badly swollen.  Fawthorpe bandaged it up with some sticky tape.
           On the night of the 17/18th, Fawthorpe and Lieut. Grumbach,
together with Marczak, went to find out the name of the nearby village
as we knew we were in the wrong area.   The people in the village were
frightened and would not answer.   The party returned and another wet
night was spent in the wood.
           We found out later that the name of the village was Hazenbourg.
           On the 18th recce parties went out and found fortifications
being built in the shape of tank traps and slit trenches from Q 435400 to
Q 437390.   A pillbox was seen at Q 423436, built to face north and west.
The morale of the fortification workers was very high and they kept us
awake at night with their singing.
           That night we moved to Q 382392, and lay up there during the
day of the 19th.   Rations were getting very low and we had little more
than the 24 hour escape ration left.    During the day Capt. Scott
decided to split the party into two as follows:
           Capt.  Scott.               Cpl.   Hill.
           Lieut. Grumbach.            Pct.   Fawthorpe.
           Pct.   Cockburn.            Pct.   Marczak.
           Pct.   Edwards.             Pct.   Bancroft.
                                       Pct.   Wheeler.
Capt. Scott was to go north and my party south.   Capt. Scott intended
to blow the three railways to the north and my party was to blow those
to the south.
           That night we moved down to Q 330331 to watch the railway.
We watched it until nightfall on the 20th and saw no traffic whatsoever.
The rails were rusty and we laid no charges.
           On the 21st at 03.00 hrs we moved to a wood south of Benestroff,
Q 285325, with the object of looking for petrol dumps.  We did not find any.
Also during the day we recced the single track railway to the west which
was also rusty.   This line was observed until nightfall but,as there was
no traffic, again no charges were laid.
           On the morning of the 22nd we moved to Q 225305, and during the
day we recced the roads to the west and north, but saw very little transport.
One convoy of about 20 trucks seen by Fawthorpe seemed to be an ordnance
unit moving.
           On the evening of the same day we moved to the wood at
Q 175308 to observe our last railway target.  By that time we had been
two days without food, having refrained from entering a village for food
where there was transport, and we wanted to blow our targets before
contacting any civilian.   The farm La Moulelette was recced but Germans
were seen moving in and out.
           Bancroft and Fawthorpe were feeling very weak so we found an
empty farm at Q 170299, previously occupied by German troops.  The
villages of Burlencourt and Dedeling were occupied by the enemy.  The
railway was still rusty.
           We stayed at the farm until morning on the 25th but were
unable to dry our clothes which had been soaked for over a week.  We
then moved to our last objective, the recce of gun sites near the front.
           We proceeded south-west along the road to the level crossing
at Q 134275, and then along the railway to avoid the river.  We then
went down the northern side hoping to reach the American lines that night.
           Fawthorpe managed to cross the river but fell in while doing
so.   He saw some suspicious lights and recrossed the river to rejoin the
party.
           We then recrossed the railway and moved West of the farm at
Q 111260 and ran into the American barrage.   German guns also opened up
and the party doubled, zig-zagging to the farm at Q 118248, but did not
stay as it appeared to be occupied.   We moved off to a bush near the
road and lay up in good cover.
           During the night there were horse patrols which passed within
a yard of the party on the road to Morville-les-Vic.
           On the 28th we spent a miserable day in the pouring rain.
Fawthorpe was still soaking from his ducking of the night before.  Soon
all were soaked to the skin and had no food whatsoever.  Occasional
vehicles passed on the road and at about 12.00 hrs troops came down the
road from the village, marching in aircraft formation.   They were about
200 strong and apparently moving into the line.   They were Germans and
looked 1st class troops with good clothes and equipment;  they had an
American ¾ ton truck with them.
           That night I decided to make for the farm we had passed the
night before, and try to get dry.   This we did and stayed there the night
in an open barn covering a haystack.
           The next morning, two people appeared just as Fawthorpe was
wringing a chicken's neck.   Thinking we were Germans they made a terrific
fuss.   Our interpreter found out that they were Polish, and after some
talk they prepared some food for which we paid a large sum.   They bought
the food at black market prices and we paid them in francs, telling them
they would get it back when the Americans arrived.   The woman was very good
and brought us food every day, even when Germans were in the yard below
the loft to which we moved.
           The German troops were mostly Ukrainian and used to scrounge
what they could from the farm which they used every day while we were
there.   We were lucky not to be found.
           We stayed there until the night of the 2/3rd October, and
during that time we did recces at night of the gun positions and also
made a general nuisance of ourselves by cutting telephone wires between
the various gun sites.  We noticed that a great deal of the enemies guns
were moved by horses, and that they moved very frequently, each gun had
an alternative position about 500 yards away.
           On the night of the 2nd we did not intend to leave and were
cooking a meal in the German cookhouse, as we were in the habit of doing.
After the Germans had left our morale was improving with the additional
food we were getting.   Unfortunately a considerable number of Germans
moved into the farm that night and we had to move out quickly.  We
proceeded south, hoping to contact the Americans and pass on our inform-
ation about the guns, which we could see were giving the Americans
considerable trouble.
           We waded the river at Q 099211, dodging Germans who were moving
about in their forward positions the whole time.
           We contacted the Americans at 22.45 hrs on the 3rd October.  In
the morning I went up to their forward positions in a tank and gave exact
information as to the enemy's gun emplacements and alternative positions.
           The Americans were very pleased to get the information as the
guns were holding them up.

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