St Honorine village sign 2004The Queens Own Cameron Highlanders
"Keep 'em Moving"
North west Europe
5th Camerons
French Tricolor
St Honorine, Normandy, France 1944.

Citation for Military Medal

                                                                  Citation for the Military Medal

On 13 June 44 after the attack and capture of St Honorine La Chardonerette, Pte. Sands was Bren gunner of a section of 'D' company which had consolidated in some enemy trenches. About 09.15 hrs a heavy counter attack developed and Pte Sands section was attacked by about 20 Germans and a tank. Pte sands was wounded in both legs but continued to operate his Bren gun until the attack on his front had been repulsed. He refused to be evacuated and crawled to a position from which he could engage another expected attack. He did this continuing to operate his gun until the company withdrew. Only then was he evacuated.

The events according to George.

Our barrage started and the first of our own shells fell amongst us in the forward companies.There were about 20 casualties around me before we had even begun to move forward. My section of "D" company were in the garden of a large Chateau type building by a 14 feet high wall which had been breached by our artillery. I was firing the Bren with my Sergeant, 2933041 A (Sandy) Sinclair, reloading for me. I was firing tracer and a German Spandau heavy machine gun pinpointed our position. Sandy took a full burst of machine gun fire through his upper arm. The next burst of fire took the barrel clean off the Bren, and a spent round ricocheted and lodge in my face, where the two jaw bones hinge. I went mad. I fitted the spare barrel that we always carried and ran at the Spandau firing the Bren from the hip as I went. I took out the Spandau and the three crew manning it but then I ran into about twelve or so Germans and a tank. I took out some of the infantry but I had no chance against the tank. I ran back to Sandy (he was in a real bad way, his arm was almost torn away) and dragged him by his collar under cover. I set up the Bren for another expected attack but we were ordered to withdraw. Me and Sandy were taken to a dressing station. I hadn't noticed the wounds to my legs (only minor), but my jaw hurt like hell. Ten days later I was on my way back into St Honorine, feeling decidedly sorry for myself, head bandaged and blood stained tunic. This time we took and held St Honorine, probably because we had tank support this time.

The Engagement at St Honorine La Chardonrette

In order to strengthen and enlarge the Bridgehead established by 6th Airborne Division on the east bank of the river Orne, it was decided to capture the village of St Honorine La Chardonrette. The attack was to be carried out by the 5th Cameron Highlanders, behind a barrage just before dawn on 13th June 1944. The start line was the South east edge of the orchards in front of Longueval, which was held by 2nd Royal Ulster Rifles, and the route thither was along the towpath which was covered from the enemy to the East by a high escarpment. A very steep track led from the towpath up into Longueval and this made it impossible to bring the battle transport by this route. The only alternative was to bring by the road from Ranville, which ran over a slight rise known as Hill 30. It had been ascertained that this was being held by the enemy and it was accordingly arranged that the 2nd Devons from Ranville would attack and capture Hill 30 with one company in order to clear the way for the passage of the Camerons battle transport.
On the evening of 12th June 44, the Camerons moved up from West of the Orne bridge into an assembly area just East of Ranville, and lay up there in the woods. Meanwhile the battle transport assembled in the village under Captain C.W.R. HILL, ready to move to St Honorine La Chardonrette when Hill 30 was captured by the Devons, and he was called forward by wireless from the battalion.
Everything went according to plan and the way along the towpath was lighted by the glow in the sky from burning Caen and accompanied by the thunder of the 14 inch shells of HMS NELSON shelling the town. By 03.40 hours the Camerons were forming up along the Orchards East of Longueval and at 03.56 hours the barrage opened. To everyone
s consternation however, shells began to fall thick and fast on the start line so that when the battalion left it at 04.00 hours, companies had already suffered casualties and became disorganised. Further casualties were suffered crossing the open cornfields from Longueval to St Honorine, by Spandaus firing from the right flank. In fact, Battalion HQ moving with the wireless set in the C.Os jeep along the track had to take to the cornfields in order to reach the safety of the wall running round the Orchards North West of St Honorine. Here a number of prisoners left by the leading companies were picked up and sent back by the road to Ranville as nothing could move towards Longueval for fire from the South. A number of these prisoners were Czechs and Poles and were only too glad to be captured but, the NCOs were the mean arrogant type of Nazis.
At about 04.45 hours, Major G.A.NIXON, MC., Commanding B company, sent a signal by wireless indicating that he had captured his objective, the North-East corner of the village. Soon after, Major
E.N.Mainwaring, MC., commanding D company next on the right, sent a similar signal and battalion H.Q. thereupon moved along the wall of the orchard to the position marked by the St Andrews cross on the plan. From there the signal calling up the battalion transport was sent and soon as it arrived three anti-tank guns were sent into the village to consolidate the positions secured by  B and D companies.
Wireless touch had been lost with A and C companies whose objectives were the South-West half of the village, but from the sounds of battle it was obvious the Germans were holding on tight in the houses. By 07.30 hours everything was quiet and Colonel Munro walked round the positions with the conviction that the village was completely in our hands.
The Brigade command had arrived at battalion H.Q
s  by this time and the success signal was sent; the time for exploitation by the 2nd Seaforth, Southwards past the East of St Honorine was fixed for 09.15 hours.
About 0800 hours a sharp counter attack by infantry was repulsed by D company, but about 0845 hours the most vicious shelling and mortaring descended on the whole of the village causing many casualties including the Adjutant, Captain K.P.M. BROWN, and the Carrier officer, Captain J. ELLICT, M.C.
About 0930 hours the shelling ceased abruptly and a heavy attack by infantry developed from the South supported by 14 tanks.
Owing to the walls, thick orchards and high corn, only two Anti-tank guns were in a position to engage these tanks which moved forward about 600 yards East of the village and blasted it while the infantry attacked. Sgt A. MacKenzie commanding one of the anti-tank guns, managed to manhandle it into a position from which he could engage after the carrier had rolled the corn in front of the muzzle to clear the field of fire. From this position MacKenzie engaged and destroyed three Mk IV Tanks in succession. In spite of this action however, the infantry came on to such effect that A, B and D companies withdrew, A and D towards Longueval, and B over Hill 30 to Ranville. Wireless touch had been lost with C company and it was impossible to order C company to withdraw, and as stick grenades were coming over the orchard wall into battalion H.Q
s, it withdrew also onto the original start line covered by D company.
C company were given up as lost and heavy artillery was brought to bear on St Honorine. This lasted until about 1200 hours when an ominous silence fell over the village, and those watching from Longueval orchards wondered what could be left of C company among the ruins. To everyone
s surprise however, about 1300 hours, Lt. W.G. Chalmers arrived across the cornfields saying that Major H.W. CAIRNS with the remnants of C company was still holding out in a house and that the whole village was clear of the enemy. This was immediately reported to Brigade but it was decided not to re- occupy St Honorine but that the battalion should relieve the Ulster Rifles in Longueval, leaving St Honorine to the dead and debris of battle. Major Cairns, Lt Chalmers, CSM Cleland and 15 men of C company, had held out in there position for 8 hours with the house at times completely surrounded by Germans and being indiscriminately shelled by both sides.
Many men of both B and support companies who withdrew across Hill 30 together with other stragglers were collected in Ranville by QM Captain W.M. MILNE, MBE, who was waiting there in the vain hope of bringing up breakfast. Captain Milne directed these men to assemble in the old Battalion area West of the Orne bridge with the result that for some hours, small parties of men were seen crossing the bridge in search of the battalion area. There they were re-organized by Major Nixon and brought up to Longueval at 1500 hours. The relief of the Ulster Rifles, however, did not take place that night so the battalion spent the night in the quarries and took over Longueval next morning.

 The Battalion casualties in the action were 8 officers and 107 other ranks, of whom 29 were killed.

Evacuation Ticket 1944

My Ticket Home

After the attack at St Honorine, George went to a dressing station near the Normandy Beach and had his wounds treated and dressed. He was labelled with an evacuation ticket and was waiting to board ship to come home when he was called out of line. He was sent back to his unit. 22nd June saw him on his way back into St Honorine.

After St Honorine, 5th Camerons were involved in the fighting around Troarn in what was known as the "Triangle". Followed by such places as Falaise, Tilly-La-Campagne, St. Pierre-sur-Dives, eventually reaching the Seine at the end of August 1944. On 1st September, "D" company under command of Major A. N. Parker, led 5th Camerons and 152 Brigade on their return into St Valery-en-Caux, to avenge the 4th Battalion and original 152 Brigade who had been forced to surrender there in 1940.

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