A Day at the Beach
Major Beach of C Company the Loamshires had studied the aerial photos of Mare du Neste. In order to cut off the elements of the German retreat after crossing the Seine, C Company was tasked to move through west through Mare du Neste and rejoin the main A route. Moving fast was a requirement.
The road runs toward Mare du Neste through crop fields with high crops on the right (north) and ploughed fields with a barn and cottage to the left (south) with a few copses and hedges. The village proper lies over the stream with a church and three blocks of houses. The road turns right there in order to skirt the Bois du Logis rising to the rear of the village on the slopes of Trouand Ridge.
Aerial photos revealed a newly made bunker to the north of the village covering the corn field. A concerted air raid a few days ago had left most of the buildings gutted and opposition was not expected.
However, 'Stony' was not to be taken in - he would dismout his men from the trucks early. An attached troop of Shermans (less its broken down Firefly) would lead up the road, accompanied by 15 Platoon. 14 Platoon would move up to the south of the road with 13 Platoon on the far left (north).
Once rolling Lt Day of the tanks radioed back they could see a marked minefield by the cottage - almost immediately there was a flash from the ruined church and the first shells fell around Sgt Water's 15 Platoon. Shortly thereafter an anti tank gun - also in the church - took out the first two Shermans. The survivor eventually manoeuvred into the corn and spent the rest of its time being mildly damaged multiple times by the AT gun.
Meanwhile German mortars and a volley of artillery shells called by flare were cutting into Stony's men. It was clear that the church and two of the blocks were held by Germans and rushes forward cost lives - the supporting 3" mortars were not very effective. Most of 15 Platoon were pinned in front of the church and largely destroyed by fire from front and flank.
Eventually elements of 13 and 14 Platoons established themselves in flanking positions on the left of the village but lacked the strength to move forward. Having knocked out the infantry gun with a PIAT a section of 13 Platoon attacked the church but were ejected. About this time Major Beach was shot dead by a sniper as he moved reserves forward along a hedge.
A section of 14 Platoon then tried to attack the building behind but, already reduced, they were caught in the open and wiped out. Meanwhile the section of 13 Platoon trading shots with the church defenders was also lost and Lt Sand, the Platoon CO - moving to command another section - was sniped.
Although a Stuart of the tank regiment's Recon Troop did appear to lend a hand toward the end (skidding up to put a 37mm shell slap bang into the PAK 40's crew) the writing was on the wall. C Company fell back, having lost over a platoon's worth of men, leaving the Germans battered but still in possession. Next time, they vowed, they would stonk the village first and maybe borrow a Crocodile.
In fact the German defenders had a total of 2 Big Men, 5 squads, a pionier squad split into two tank killer teams and a Panzerschreck, as well as 2 8cm mortars, a 7.5cm leIG and a PAK40. They lost 14 men including one of their Big Men.