During the shell fire, the C.O. told me to go forward and tell the two company commanders leading the approach march to keep pushing forward so we would not get too far behind our original time-plan which was to have artillery fire supporting us during the first wave of our attack. I remember making my way forward amidst the shell-fire as the shells were exploding in the water near me, throwing up green fluorescent spray. I saw casualties being helped into nearby houses.
We were able to put the artillery fire support plan back by thirty minutes and again I surged through the flood-water to the head of the column to let the Company Commanders know about this change. The battalion continued its advance and as we approached the area where we planned to launch our attack on the objective, the C.O. ordered me to set up Battalion Tactical HQ in some houses nearby. Along with the S.O., I broke down the door of a house and as I led the way into the flooded ground floor I sank into a deep pit normally covered by a metal grid but this had been removed. I thought for a moment I had been booby trapped, but jokingly clambered my way back on to my feet and we all climbed indoors. Subsequently it proved that the house next door had German snipers and they were to become most troublesome.
The two leading company commanders formed their troops as square to their objective as possible despite the swirling, fast-flowing tide of flood water sweeping around them. At Battalion HQ we heard the stirring battle-charge of 'Up the Royals!' as 'D' Company's 16 Platoon made the first assault and they courageously and quickly captured two pill boxes and 35 prisoners. When we heard the sound of the ancient battle-charge echoing in the darkness of the night -- sounding like it must have done in many courageous assaults in the long history of the First Regiment of Foot -- the C.O. said aloud to all within his hearing: "It's going to be all right now!" So it was, but only after a gruelling and bravely fought battle, with sections and platoons of our three rifle companies and the two sections of the dismounted Carrier Platoon persistently and relentlessly forcing their way forward by sheer determination and bravery, bringing about the surrender of Oberst (Colonel) Reinhart and 600 prisoners; 50 Germans lay dead on the battlefield.
During the battle we were without wireless contact to Brigade HQ, and the Brigade Commander was unaware of the very heavy resistance we were encountering. When that resistance was at its most difficult, the C.O. said to me: "Joe make your way back to the Brigadier and give him an outline of our position as you know it. Tell him we require our other rifle company (it had been left out of battle safeguarding civilian refugees as it was thought to be unnecessary as we would only meet sixty Germans on the objective)."

 


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