The key plan for ‘D-Day Two’ if Normandy landings had failed: SAS group led by one-armed Frenchman parachuted into Nazi-held Brittany evening earlier than June 6, 1944 to grab port and allow Allies to invade, reveals historian DAMIEN LEWIS

Two black Citroen saloon automobiles – typical Gestapo autos – crawled by way of the slim Brittany lanes, the drivers clearly misplaced. 

Second later their occupants – all Gestapo brokers – have been useless or working for his or her lives.

A flaming projectile tore aside the primary automobile, turning it right into a ball of searing fireplace, and bullets raked the second. 

4 males bailed out and ran. Three have been captured by their assailants, however the final managed to slide away.

This didn’t bode nicely for the ambushers – the boys of the SAS, who right here in Brittany have been combating alongside their French Resistance comrades. 

These 36 SAS had been the primary Allied troops to land on French soil, because the vanguard for Operation Overlord that they had parachuted behind the strains into Brittany. 

On June 5, 1944, 180 members of the SAS have been dropped into Brittany with the last word goal of seizing the port of Saint-Malo to put the bottom for an Allied invasion

The SAS team were led by the one-armed Pierre-Louis Bourgoin, a French SAS colonel. Above: On the Cahmps-Elysees in 1944

The SAS group have been led by the one-armed Pierre-Louis Bourgoin, a French SAS colonel. Above: On the Cahmps-Elysees in 1944

Major Oswald Cary-Elwes with his batman Corporal Mills. Major Cary-Elwes was charged with heading up Operation Lost, after the original SAS squad that were sent into Brittany went missing

Main Oswald Cary-Elwes along with his batman Corporal Mills. Main Cary-Elwes was charged with heading up Operation Misplaced, after the unique SAS squad that have been despatched into Brittany went lacking

Touchdown at 23:40 hours on the evening of the June 5, 1944, they hit the bottom earlier than the primary Allied troops made the Normandy seashores.

Theirs was a prime secret and important mission.

Led by the one-armed Pierre-Louis Bourgoin, a French SAS colonel, and a former British Secret Intelligence Service agent, they have been charged with ‘attacking railways, slicing telecoms, putting alternative targets e.g. assaults on delicate autos, sentries…’

Their goal was to chop off Brittany from the Normandy Seashores, so stopping the mass of German troops stationed there from attacking the Allied forces spearheading the D-Day landings.

However the SAS additionally had one other, ultra-secret position. They have been to assemble intelligence on the port of Saint-Malo, on the northern Brittany shoreline, and to safe maps and plans of the enemy’s defences. 

A second D-Day touchdown operation was being deliberate, one that may contain crusing British and American warships immediately into Saint-Malo, to land troops. 

If that could possibly be completed, the Allies would have outflanked the enemy, easing stress on the Normandy beachheads.

By the point your complete SAS power had been dropped in, Bourgoin commanded some 180 males at arms. 

However with the very best will on this planet, that measurement of power may by no means take Saint-Malo port and maintain it for lengthy sufficient for the Allied ships to reach safely. 

Therefore Bourgoin’s different key mission – calling in mass airdrops of weaponry and explosives, to arm the hundreds of Frenchmen flocking to affix the Resistance.

After rudimentary coaching furnished by Bourgoin and his males, the SAS and Resistance have been to mix forces to wrestle Saint-Malo from enemy fingers. 

Nonetheless, it was a tall order. To assist Bourgoin and his males pull it off, a dozen 4×4 Willys jeeps bristling with rapid-firing Vickers-Okay machine-guns had additionally been parachuted in.

Every jeep had been winched up into the open bomb-bay of a Halifax bomber, with an enormous chute lashed to every of its 4 corners.

Army medics walking on debris in Saint-Malo during the Allied campaign to liberate France, 1944

Military medics strolling on particles in Saint-Malo in the course of the Allied marketing campaign to liberate France, 1944

Captured German soldiers walk with their hands behind their head during the battle of Saint-Malo, August 1944

Captured German troopers stroll with their fingers behind their head in the course of the battle of Saint-Malo, August 1944

Pierre-Louis Bourgoin

Bourgoin in later life

Pierre-Louis Bourgoin, a one-armed French SAS colonel, was charged with ‘attacking railways, slicing telecoms, putting alternative targets e.g. assaults on delicate autos, sentries…’ in Brittany. He later grew to become a politician

Bourgoin had misplaced his arm whereas serving with the Secret Intelligence Service, in North Africa, in 1943. 

His automobile had been attacked by a German warplane, inflicting him a number of accidents. 

Undaunted, he’d gone on to volunteer for the SAS, and was now again in his native France decided to realize his mission.

All had been going nicely, till that Gestapo agent escaped from the ambush, elevating the alarm within the close by city.

As Bourgoin totally appreciated, the Gestapo escapee had seen SAS troopers attacking his convoy. The enemy have been certain to return searching. 

Properly-armed with scores of Bren machineguns and US-made Bazookas, Bourgoin set his defences. At daybreak the next day the enemy got here. 

They selected to assault throughout a thick cornfield. Because the grey-uniformed troops closed in, they left furrows within the crops, which meant they could possibly be seen and focused. 

Caught within the open by Bourgoin and his males, in a short time heaps of bloodied enemy corpses lay amongst the golden corn.

However nonetheless the enemy saved coming. Bourgoin’s males fell again from the farmstead they’d been defending, on the village of Saint-Marcel, to their close by headquarters on the Chateau Saint-Genevieve. 

Their wounded have been loaded aboard jeeps, and rushed to a makeshift Resistance hospital. However 4 jeeps have been saved for the battle. 

Racing forward, they outflanked the advancing enemy, and started to pour in fusillades of fireplace from their pivot-mounted Vickers-Okay machine-guns. 

Scavenged from out of date RAF warplanes, the rapid-firing Vickers-Okay made an ideal weapon for the sort of fast-moving, hit-and-run warfare of the SAS.

They proved equally deadly in opposition to the enemy assaulting the Chateau Saint-Genevieve. 

Hitting onerous, then zooming away, to strike once more from a brand new route, the jeeps turned the tide of the battle, however not for lengthy.

The enemy’s response was to herald reinforcements, together with armoured automobiles and heavy weapons. Bourgoin knew his males needed to soften away, or all could be misplaced. 

He radioed SAS headquarters in London, even because the enemy broke by way of to the Chateau Saint-Genevieve, in fierce close-quarter combating.

An SAS man on the chateau’s roof wielding a Bren saved the enemy at bay. At one level he dropped a grenade down a chimney, when the enemy broke right into a room beneath. 

Through his radio, Bourgoin obtained orders from London to disperse and save as a lot of his males as doable. 

Blowing up the huge ammo dump that they had assembled from the provides parachuted in, they started to slide away below cowl of the smoke and explosions.

It was nigh-on midnight when the final of Bourgoin’s fighters obtained away, pursued all the best way by ‘crack SS troops.’ 

In making their escape, the SAS could be scattered to the 4 corners of northern Brittany. 

Worse nonetheless, their radios have been both destroyed within the firefight or out of service. 

That evening a complete SAS Squadron – some 180 males – could be listed as lacking in motion, for London had no concept if any had survived.

Brigadier Roderick McLeod, general SAS commander on the time, responded by calling for volunteers. 

He wanted a group to mount Operation Misplaced, a mission to go in and discover the lacking squadron, and to resurrect the plans for the second D-Day landings. 

The battle for Normandy was hanging within the steadiness, the enemy giving no quarter, and the Saint-Malo operation was trying more and more possible.

The person who stepped ahead to steer Operation Misplaced was the tall, ramrod straight determine of Main Oswald Cary-Elwes, a long-standing SAS commander who’d fought in North Africa and Italy. 

Blessed with a completely unconventional mindset, Cary-Elwes was wont to hunt out SAS recruits within the brig. 

For Bourgoin's mission, a dozen 4x4 Willys jeeps bristling with rapid-firing Vickers-K machine-guns had been parachuted in. Above: A jeep loaded into the bay of a Halifax bomber

For Bourgoin’s mission, a dozen 4×4 Willys jeeps bristling with rapid-firing Vickers-Okay machine-guns had been parachuted in. Above: A jeep loaded into the bay of a Halifax bomber

An US Air Force plane bombs the German-held port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany in August 1944

An US Air Pressure aircraft bombs the German-held port metropolis of Saint-Malo in Brittany in August 1944

In a single occasion, he’d recruited Corporal Charley Hackney whereas imprisoned and going through a court docket martial. 

Cary-Elwes judgement of the kind of man who made an excellent SAS recruit was uncanny. Hackney had gone on to turn out to be an SAS stalwart.

Cary-Elwes parachuted into Brittany to seek out the lacking SAS squadron, alongside along with his ever-faithful batman, Corporal Eric Mills. 

Mills, blessed with the power to ‘snigger within the face of hazard’ doubled as Cary-Elwes bodyguard. As Mills avowed, the SAS main ‘took some bloody guarding and all.’ 

Cary-Elwes at all times needed to have his cup of tea within the morning, although he by no means drank it, and he had the behavior of strolling alongside lanes deep in enemy-occupied territory whistling his favorite English tunes on the prime of his voice.

Cary-Elwes was additionally fluent in French, apparently fearless and with a daredevil perspective {that a} mission like Operation Misplaced referred to as for. 

Having landed in France, the seek for Bourgoin started. Sadly, the Gestapo had resorted to arresting all one-armed males in Brittany, in an try and nail the SAS colonel. 

This made Bourgoin decidedly onerous to seek out. The Gestapo had additionally began to decorate within the uniforms of these that they had killed or captured, to masquerade as SAS and entrap their fellow troopers.

It took all of Cary-Elwes’ guile, audacity and entrance to winkle out Bourgoin. As soon as reunited, Cary-Elwes, who’d parachuted in with a hi fi, was in a position to contact SAS headquarters with the excellent news. 

Bourgoin and most of his males have been nonetheless at giant. Within the battle round Chateau Saint-Genevieve the SAS and Resistance had killed 4 hundred enemy troops. 

However they’d additionally suffered losses. Thirty SAS and Resistance fighters had been killed and lots of extra wounded.

Worse nonetheless, these males who had been captured had been completed off by the Waffen SS with a bullet to the top. 

As Bourgoin defined, the ‘complete space was filled with Germans trying to find him and so they had put a big value on his head.’ 

But he and his males remained undaunted. With radio contact to London they may name in additional weaponry, arm the Resistance flocking to the trigger, and execute their mission.

Cary-Elwes and Bourgoin’s orders from London have been to present absolute precedence to ‘the operation for the seize of St Malo,’ in addition to securing intelligence on different key ports in Brittany. 

As Bourgoin was being so intensively hunted, Cary-Elwes and Mills joined a power led by his deputy, Lieutenant Marienne, identified to all by now as ‘The Lion of Saint-Marcel’, after the epic battle that they had fought in and round that village. 

Shortly, they hit the jackpot, being handed a thick wad of captured enemy paperwork and maps, detailing the important thing defences of Saint-Malo and the opposite fundamental ports.

Such priceless intelligence could not be radioed again to London. Solely by escaping again to Britain may Cary-Elwes get this into Allied planners’ fingers. 

He was ordered to take action in any respect doable pace. Through the Shelbourne Line – a protracted established escape line run by MI9, the British ‘escape manufacturing facility’ – he and Mills have been to be spirited again to British shores. 

Longstanding SAS commander Major Oswald Cary-Elwes seen standing behind prime minister Winston Churchill as he lays a wreath

Longstanding SAS commander Main Oswald Cary-Elwes seen standing behind prime minister Winston Churchill as he lays a wreath

A German Panzergrenadier unit. There were hundreds of German troops in Saint-Malo hunting for the SAS members

A German Panzergrenadier unit. There have been a whole bunch of German troops in Saint-Malo trying to find the SAS members

Dressed as French farmers, with faux IDs, they have been hustled by way of Brittany countryside crawling with the enemy, at first in a battered van, which for some cause tooted its horn every time the brake was utilized.

Transferred to a horse and cart, Cary-Elwes excessive spirits obtained the higher of him. Passing a French village, he declared they need to cease on the café for brandy. 

They have been served fiery Brittany Calvados – a cider brandy – and Mills, unused to such sturdy liquor, choked himself half to dying. 

From then on he vowed by no means to the touch French alcohol, incomes the nickname ‘Le petit caporal qui ne boit que du lait’ – the little corporal who solely drinks milk.

They reached the final cease on the Shelborne Line, a distant home perched on the Brittany cliffs, with a Royal Navy Motor Torpedo Boat (MTB) scheduled to pluck them off the close by seashore the next evening. However there catastrophe would strike. 

Of their wake, Lieutenant Marienne, ‘The Lion of Saint-Marcel’, and his males had been surrounded and captured. 

Although Marienne had argued vehemently that they have been bona fide Allied combatants serving in uniform, and must be handled as prisoners of battle, they have been tortured and shot.

Whilst Cary-Elwes and Mills have been so near executing their getaway, so the hunters got here. The enemy surrounded the distant farmhouse. 

Yelling drunkenly, they fired by way of the door and demanded the homeowners – a younger Frenchman, his spouse and youngster – open up. 

Cary-Elwes and Mills hid within the loft, vowing to make use of their grenades and pistol to make a final stand. 

However in the dead of night and confusion the drunken troops managed to shoot their very own officer, and have been pressured to load him aboard a cart to hurry him to hospital.

In that second, Cary-Elwes, Mills and the French household slipped away. Hiding in a cornfield they watched because the enemy returned and put the farmstead to the torch.

It had been used to retailer arms for the Resistance. When the flames hit the explosives the enemy have been caught within the blast, a number of being injured and killed. Hunted on all sides, the fugitives lay low. 

Members of the French Liberation with SAS jeeps after securing victory over German troops

Members of the French Liberation with SAS jeeps after securing victory over German troops

British troops take positions on Sword beach during D-Day, June 6, 1944

British troops take positions on Sword seashore throughout D-Day, June 6, 1944

Allied planes bomb German boats to prepare for the landing of troops, Normandy 1944

Allied planes bomb German boats to organize for the touchdown of troops, Normandy 1944

Troops from the 48th Royal Marines at Saint-Aubin-sur-mer on Juno Beach, Normandy, France, during the D-Day landings, June 6, 1944

Troops from the forty eighth Royal Marines at Saint-Aubin-sur-mer on Juno Seaside, Normandy, France, in the course of the D-Day landings, June 6, 1944

Parachutists gathered with their kit ahead of an operation

Parachutists gathered with their equipment forward of an operation 

They made their technique to Bonaparte Seaside below cowl of darkness the following night.

Even now, menace stalked them on all sides. The trail to the seashore was marked by white handkerchiefs, positioned there by a courageous French woman. 

It was to indicate the protected route by way of a minefield. After a tense wait, a rowing boat emerged from the gloom, and so they piled aboard. 

Shortly, they have been hauled onto the ready MTB and sped again to British shores at prime pace.

As soon as safely ashore, Cary-Elwes delivered his intelligence into the keen fingers of Allied commanders. 

Whereas the second D-Day landings in Brittany have been by no means truly wanted – the breakout from the Normandy beachheads was quickly underway – the plans and maps Cary-Elwes had delivered have been used to information Allied bombing missions of these key Brittany ports.

Two weeks after escaping to Britain, Cary-Elwes and Mills would parachute again into France, to hyperlink up with Bourgoin – the one-armed French Colonel – and his surviving SAS, to liberate Brittany from the Nazi occupiers.

SAS Nice Escapes Three by Damien Lewis is revealed by Quercus at £22.

D-Day: Large invasion of Europe described by Churchill because the ‘most intricate and troublesome’ navy operation in world historical past

Operation Overlord noticed some 156,000 Allied troops touchdown in Normandy on June 6, 1944.

It’s thought as many as 4,400 have been killed in an operation Winston Churchill described as ‘undoubtedly probably the most sophisticated and troublesome that has ever taken place’.

The assault was carried out in two phases: an airborne touchdown of 24,000 British, American, Canadian and Free French airborne troops shortly after midnight, and an amphibious touchdown of Allied infantry and armoured divisions on the coast of France commencing at 6.30am.

The operation was the largest amphibious invasion in world history, with over 160,000 troops landing. Some 195,700 Allied naval and merchant navy personnel in over 5,000 ships were involved. 

The operation was the biggest amphibious invasion in world historical past, with over 160,000 troops touchdown. Some 195,700 Allied naval and service provider navy personnel in over 5,000 ships have been concerned. 

US Army troops in an LCVP landing craft approach Normandy's 'Omaha' Beach on D-Day in Colleville Sur-Mer, France June 6 1944. As infantry disembarked from the landing craft, they often found themselves on sandbars 50 to 100 yards away from the beach. To reach the beach they had to wade through water sometimes neck deep

US Military troops in an LCVP touchdown craft method Normandy’s ‘Omaha’ Seaside on D-Day in Colleville Sur-Mer, France June 6 1944. As infantry disembarked from the touchdown craft, they usually discovered themselves on sandbars 50 to 100 yards away from the seashore. To succeed in the seashore they needed to wade by way of water typically neck deep

US Army troops and crewmen aboard a Coast Guard manned LCVP approach a beach on D-Day. After the initial landing soldiers found the original plan was in tatters, with so many units mis-landed, disorganized and scattered. Most commanders had fallen or were absent, and there were few ways to communicate

US Military troops and crewmen aboard a Coast Guard manned LCVP method a seashore on D-Day. After the preliminary touchdown troopers discovered the unique plan was in tatters, with so many models mis-landed, disorganized and scattered. Most commanders had fallen or have been absent, and there have been few methods to speak

A LCVP landing craft from the U.S. Coast Guard attack transport USS Samuel Chase approaches Omaha Beach. The objective was for the beach defences to be cleared within two hours of the initial landing. But stubborn German defence delayed efforts to take the beach and led to significant delays

A LCVP touchdown craft from the U.S. Coast Guard assault transport USS Samuel Chase approaches Omaha Seaside. The target was for the seashore defences to be cleared inside two hours of the preliminary touchdown. However cussed German defence delayed efforts to take the seashore and led to vital delays 

An LCM landing craft manned by the U.S. Coast Guard, evacuating U.S. casualties from the invasion beaches, brings them to a transport for treatment. An accurate figure for casualties incurred by V Corps at Omaha on 6 June is not known; sources vary between 2,000 and over 5,000 killed, wounded, and missing

An LCM touchdown craft manned by the U.S. Coast Guard, evacuating U.S. casualties from the invasion seashores, brings them to a transport for remedy. An correct determine for casualties incurred by V Corps at Omaha on 6 June isn’t identified; sources range between 2,000 and over 5,000 killed, wounded, and lacking

The operation was the biggest amphibious invasion in world historical past, with over 160,000 troops touchdown. Some 195,700 Allied naval and service provider navy personnel in over 5,000 ships have been concerned.

The landings passed off alongside a 50-mile stretch of the Normandy coast divided into 5 sectors: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword.

The assault was chaotic with boats arriving on the incorrect level and others moving into difficulties within the water.

Destruction in the northern French town of Carentan after the invasion in June 1944

Destruction within the northern French city of Carentan after the invasion in June 1944

Forward 14/45 guns of the US Navy battleship USS Nevada fire on positions ashore during the D-Day landings on Utah Beach. The only artillery support for the troops making these tentative advances was from the navy. Finding targets difficult to spot, and in fear of hitting their own troops, the big guns of the battleships and cruisers concentrated fire on the flanks of the beaches

Ahead 14/45 weapons of the US Navy battleship USS Nevada fireplace on positions ashore in the course of the D-Day landings on Utah Seaside. The one artillery help for the troops making these tentative advances was from the navy. Discovering targets troublesome to identify, and in worry of hitting their very own troops, the large weapons of the battleships and cruisers concentrated fireplace on the flanks of the seashores

The US Navy minesweeper USS Tide sinks after striking a mine, while its crew are assisted by patrol torpedo boat PT-509 and minesweeper USS Pheasant. When another ship attempted to tow the damaged ship to the beach, the strain broke her in two and she sank only minutes after the last survivors had been taken off

The US Navy minesweeper USS Tide sinks after putting a mine, whereas its crew are assisted by patrol torpedo boat PT-509 and minesweeper USS Pheasant. When one other ship tried to tow the broken ship to the seashore, the pressure broke her in two and he or she sank solely minutes after the final survivors had been taken off

A US Army medic moves along a narrow strip of Omaha Beach administering first aid to men wounded in the Normandy landing on D-Day in Collville Sur-Mer. On D-Day, dozens of medics went into battle on the beaches of Normandy, usually without a weapon. Not only did the number of wounded exceed expectations, but the means to evacuate them did not exist

A US Military medic strikes alongside a slim strip of Omaha Seaside administering first help to males wounded within the Normandy touchdown on D-Day in Collville Sur-Mer. On D-Day, dozens of medics went into battle on the seashores of Normandy, often with no weapon. Not solely did the variety of wounded exceed expectations, however the means to evacuate them didn’t exist

Troops managed solely to achieve a small foothold on the seashore – however they constructed on their preliminary breakthrough within the coming days and a harbor was opened at Omaha.

They met sturdy resistance from the German forces who have been stationed at strongpoints alongside the shoreline.

Roughly 10,000 allies have been injured or killed, together with 6,603 American, of which 2,499 have been deadly.

Between 4,000 and 9,000 German troops have been killed – and it proved the pivotal second of the battle, within the allied forces’ favour.

The first wave of troops from the US Army takes cover under the fire of Nazi guns in 1944

The primary wave of troops from the US Military takes cowl below the fireplace of Nazi weapons in 1944

Canadian soldiers study a German plan of the beach during D-Day landing operations in Normandy. Once the beachhead had been secured, Omaha became the location of one of the two Mulberry harbors, prefabricated artificial harbors towed in pieces across the English Channel and assembled just off shore

Canadian troopers research a German plan of the seashore throughout D-Day touchdown operations in Normandy. As soon as the beachhead had been secured, Omaha grew to become the placement of one of many two Mulberry harbors, prefabricated synthetic harbors towed in items throughout the English Channel and assembled simply off shore

US Army Rangers show off the ladders they used to storm the cliffs which they assaulted in support of Omaha Beach landings at Pointe du Hoc. At the end of the two-day action, the initial Ranger landing force of 225 or more was reduced to about 90 fighting men

US Military Rangers exhibit the ladders they used to storm the cliffs which they assaulted in help of Omaha Seaside landings at Pointe du Hoc. On the finish of the two-day motion, the preliminary Ranger touchdown power of 225 or extra was diminished to about 90 combating males

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