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D. Operation Pistol C3

(Original images courtesy of The National Archives)
Report by S.Q.M.S. Alcock.
           I dropped on the night 15/16th Sep 44 in the stick
commanded by Capt. M. Scott.   On the ground I contacted Cpl. Hill, then
Fawthorpe, Cockburn and Edwards
, and two minutes later was joined by Cpl.
Hannah.   The drop was good from about 800 feet into open country -
grassland with occasional bushes and trees.   D.Z. approximately Q 410420.
           The party moved to an isolated tree and splitting into pairs
searched in three directions for the remainder of the stick.  Fawthorpe
reported he had found Capt. Scott and Lieut. Grumbach on the edge of a
shrubbery, and said that Capt. Scott had injured his ankle.   The party
moved over to Capt. Scott.
           Capt. Scott decided to proceed in a S.E. direction and the
stick moved off in one party.  Five were missing.
           After 300 yards Capt. Scott found his ankle unbearable and tried
to bandage it.   Then he gave me orders to take those of my stick and carry
on my way.   Only Cpl. Hannah of my party was with me and so I took him
and moved off once more to the south-east.
           We found three leg bags and camouflaged these in a bush
bottom.   Carrying on we found Cpl. Holden and Lyczak who were just dis-
posing of their leg bags.  They had not seen the other three members of
the stick who were missing at the time the party left the D.Z. near Capt.
           Cpl. Holden and Lyczak were on the north side of a stream and
we marched to the east before crossing to the southern bank by a small
village at Q 416418.   We continued to the south-east and reached the road
and railway at Audville, Q 425418.   We crossed them and then passed over
a tank ditch.  We decided to lay up for the next day in a copse at Q 416413.
           When daylight came on the 16th, we observed a pillbox, south of
Audville station, covering the anti-tank ditch, and heard German working
parties in the Unterwald.   They were seen to leave the forest as darkness
fell.   These Germans were evidently billeted in Audville .
           We stayed in the copse on the night 16/17th and again observed
the surrounding country on the 17th.   The working party was seen to leave
the village ? ? the ???? at ??.?? hrs and stayed there until ??.?? hrs.
During the day they were visited by German officers.   It was quite
evident that fortifications were being built.
     Before leaving on the night 17/18th we disposed of our sleeping
bags which had become useless after being soaked by the rain.   We moved
West, recrossing the railway and anti-tank ditch, until we hit the stream
running from Kappelkinger to Nelling at Q 376412.   Being unable to cross
the stream, which was both wide and deep, and as by this time it was
almost daylight and we suspected we were under observation from a nearby
farm, we moved back to the South-East towards the main road between Insming
and Kappelkinger and took the only available cover by climbing into a pear
tree.   From there we could see the main road which was being used by a lot
of S.S. and S.A. cyclists.   After about two hours we were seen by two
children who had come to pick some pears.   They exclaimed "Russian
soldiers!" and ran away.   We decided to move.
     Crossing the road and railway we went to a copse in the middle
of some cultivated land at Q 383400.   We remained there for the rest of
the 18th and asked a farmer for some food which he brought.   Later that
evening some more food was brought to us by two civilians, one speaking
German and one French.   They informed us that civilian labour was being
used for the trench digging south of Insming beside the wood, area Q 370390,
 under threat of a machine-gun.   We stayed where we were for the night
18/19th and heard two trains pass on the Insming line.   These we saw to be
goods trains.   We decided to lay a charge the next night.
     We watched the railway all day on the 19th but saw no trains.    We
laid a charge at Q 383398 at about 21.00 hrs on the same day and it was
blown by a train consisting of engine, tender and one truck, at 23.00 hrs.
The engine and tender fell to the left and the truck fell across the right
hand track.
     As soon as the explosion took place we moved South-South-West and
round the South side of Albestroff; we confirmed the report of trenches
being dug along the sides of the Albestroff wood.
     We crossed the road to Torcheville and moving West we lay up in the
wood at Q 330366.   We stayed there during the 20th and on the night
20/21st we moved again to the West, crossing the Insming - Benestroff railway
to reach a point Q 287367; at about dusk on the 21st we saw an artillery
convoy moving South from Neufvillage.
     We again obtained food and slept the night at Besuelle farm
Q 280370, where we were informed five parachutists had passed by on the
edge of the wood at Q 280364.
     On the morning of the 22nd we moved to the corner of the wood,
Q 262341, and while crossing the two railways no patrols or guards were
seen.   At this point we could see a depot at Q 267345 in which people
were working.   This was apparently an engine shed used for some other
     We stayed the night 22/23rd at Ferriendel farm, Q 261337.   Here
we were informed by the farmer that the depot was a German machine-gun
repair shop at which White Russians were working, and also made spare
parts.   Staying at this farm was a friend of the farmer who was evading
the Gestapo.   His name was Lucille Thilly.   He asked if he could come with
us through the lines, and as he spoke fluent German and knew the country
well I consented.
     On the morning of the 24th we followed the edge of the wood down to
Q 216242 and arrived in time to see the end of a tank battle; we observed
all the tanks, approximately 20 in number, withdrawing to the wood West
of Blanche-Eglise.   They never passed out of the wood.
     Here we tried to find out where the front line was, but could observe
no indication of its whereabouts.
     Having been soaked, Cpl. Holden was suffering from malaria and we
decided to return to the farm where we were sure of a welcome.   We
stayed for the night 24/25th and the following day, deciding to move on
the morning of the 26th, by which time Cpl. Holden had recovered.
     This time we decided to move by day along the West of the wood as
far as Q 218303, and Cpl. Hannah and the Frenchman contacted two Polish
civilians who offered to take us to a farm at Koecking Bois and give us
coffee and an opportunity to dry our clothes.   When we entered the house,
two girls aged 15/16 set about making coffee and drying our clothes.   Mean-
while Lyczak spoke in Polish to the civilians and told us they were O.K.
Later at about 12.00 hrs the civilians left, and at about 13.00 hrs a party
to occupy their attention whilst we hurriedly dressed and got on our kit.
 We could not move because the two Germans moved to the rear of the house
and the remainder, about five, stayed on the road in front.   We decided
that if the two at the rear should enter we would make them prisoner and
get away from the back.   However, they returned to the front and called
over the remainder of the party.   Seeing our opportunity, we left by the
back way and got into the edge of the wood.   There we stayed to watch
the house, and I realised I had left my glove and a carbine magazine.
These were evidently found by the Germans and they came out towards us.
We opened fire and all were seen to drop except one who ran back to the
house.   We then heard more transport arrive, so we made off to the South-
East through the wood and crossed the main road at Q 237295.   We heard
two shots fired and wondered if the girls had been shot.   I think the
two Polish civilians had informed the Germans of our whereabouts.
     From the road we went along the edge of the wood and halted at
Q 222284 on the road.   Here we saw a German truck draw up from point 237,
back into the wood, fill up with artillery ammunition, and go off again
towards Dreize.   We could hear repairs being carried out at Q 222285.   It
sounded like a tank field repair shop.
     We moved across the road and went down the track to Berange Farm
 Q 196268.   While on the track we noticed a lot of tank harbour positions
and could hear a lot of tanks moving into the edge of the wood.   We stayed
the night 26/27th at Berange Farm.
     Early on the 27th we moved along the road through the forest to
Q 166249.   Here we contacted a shepherd who told us that the Germans were
occupying Marsal, Moyenvic, and Xanrey.
     About mid-day we crossed to the West side of the wood to point
Q 146240, where we were surprised to see 10 Germans going to Salival Farm
carrying dixies.   We took cover but were seen by the leading German.   We
immediately stood up and Cpl. Holden shouted "Halt!".   They raised their
hands and the leader shouted "Don't shoot, don't shoot - Americans 6 kilo-
metres" and pointed to the South-West "Tous parti".   They told us they
were Serbs.   It was obvious we were in the middle of a German held area
to make off. When they bolted we went back into the wood, returning to
where we found the shepherd.  On our way we passed close to what was
apparently a brigade H.Q.   We cut several signal lines before proceeding
to the East side of the wood where we awaited darkness before deciding to
stay at Voitrebolle Farm for the night 27/28th.   It was reported there
that a party of five had been there eight days previously, and from the
description we recognised Sheville and his party.
          On the 28th Lucille Thilly and I dressed in civilian clothes and
worked in the fields north of Haraucourt as two battalions of infantry had
been heard to move in during the night.   We could see very few Germans in
the village and concluded they had left the same night.   From where we
were working we could see Marsal was burning from the bombardment by air
and artillery, and also obtained an indication of the American positions
by the artillery flashes West of Juvrecourt.  We could see very little
enemy infantry movement.
          We returned to the farm and stayed for the night 28/29th.
During the 29th we moved into the wood where we planned to move across to
the American lines early on the morning of the 30th.   On the evening of
the 29th we returned to the farm until early on the 30th and we were told
that two civilians were at the house having been evacuated from Moyennic.
Seeing they were Poles I sent Lyczak to speak to them.   He returned to
tell us that Moyennic was evacuated by civilians and fortified by the
          We set off at 02.30 hrs on the 1st Oct.  We went South,leaving
Haraucourt on the right, over the main road to the canal, which we crossed
by the bridge at Q 191220, and across the road where we cut an artillery
communication line.   We were fired at by the American mortars but moved
south-west intending to pass Xanrey on our right.   We bumped some Germans
digging M.G. positions and listened to them on our right and left and
passed between them.   They were 200 yards apart.
          With daylight breaking we made for a bush at the bottom of a
hillock, but found freshly dug positions and saw someone looking at us
over the hill.   It was a small O.P., and as there were only two men in it
we decided to take them P.W.   I sent the Frenchmen and Cpl. Hannah to
the back whilst the remainder of us came up the front, the plan being to
challenge them in German.   Cpl. Hannah, however, decided to challenge
first and discovered they were Americans.
          We were taken to Col. Clark of the 4th Armd Div where we were
interrogated.   He was greatly pleased with the information we gave
regarding the enemy H.Q. and tank harbouring positions.
     1.  Road and railway used only at night.
     2.  Enemy troops in woods with very little attention given to
         roads in the open country.
     3.  S.A.S. rubber soles are known to Germans.  They leave a very
         prominent imprint.