4 (Free French) SAS in Brittany

Discussion in 'Free French' started by Pat Curran, Oct 13, 2014.

  1. Pat Curran

    Pat Curran Administrator
    Staff Member

    Oct 20, 2012
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    Co. Kilkenny, Ireland
    Hi All,

    I am opening this thread to study the exploits of 4 (Free French) SAS in Brittany during the summer of 1944. The vanguard of this force was dropped on the night of the 5th June in order to ready the ground for follow up echelons and to meet with local Resistance groups. Once up to strength, the various groups were to cut communications and rail links with the Invasion areas to the north. They were also tasked with harassing by means of ambush, the 150.000 German troops on the Peninsula who might otherwise have been able to reinforce the Invasion areas. This they accomplished despite their number never being above 450 troopers and, in the initial operations at least, some 10,000 Resistance fighters.

    I am currently seeking a good book on this group (specific to their operations in Brittany) and would welcome suggestions in this regard.

    In addition, if anyone knows of the various Operations ('Samwest', 'Dingson','Grog', 'Cooney' and others), I would be most grateful if you could add to this thread.

    Thanks,

    Pat
     
  2. hans_ni-hi

    hans_ni-hi Active Member
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    Nov 30, 2014
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    Hi Pat,

    I have searched the Combined Arms Library Digital Libray for your listed operations. The search for 'Dingson' returned one document. JEDBURGHS: combat operations conducted in the Finistere region of Brittany, France from July-September 1944.
    It is the documet which I refered to in one of my replays on the subject of T/5 McKinney. This document, the master thesis of Eliot Rosner from 1990, lists in Chapter 3 the combat history of different JEDBURGH teams and their role in the liberaton of Brittany.

    The first team is 'Team Giles'. In his opening comments, "SFHQ dispatched team Giles to the Finistere area on the evening of 8/9 July 1944. As the seventh team sent to France from the United Kingdom, its specific mission was to organize resistance in the Finistere area. No offensive action could occure against the Germans; however. unless directed to do so by SFHQ. Operating in the vicinity of the SAS team Dingson, his team consisted of Captain Bernard M. W. Knox (US), Captain Paul Lebel (French) and Sergeant Gordon H. Tack (United Kingdom).

    I have copied the narrative of Team Giles into a word doc and can paste here if it is of interest. I have not found any further refrence to one of your listed operation except what is listed above.

    Several sources are frequently cited and may help in your search for literature:
    One book cited many times: Covert Warfare from John Mendelsohn.
    Other are Albert Hemingway, "The Great Parachute Drop," Military History (April 1990)
    or
    Ben Parnell, Carpetbaggers America's Secret War in Europe, (Austin, Texas: Eakin Press, 1987).

    One interesting additional fact from reading the combat history of 'Team Giles' is, that they had their last CP in the community of Laz before the 86th Cavalry Mech Squardon came in on 5th of August to librate Chateauneuf-du-Faou. The community of Laz is south of Chateauneuf-du-Faou.
    I am wondering if the CP, referenced in the text, is basically located at the 2 bridges with the given task to secure them.

    This would bring foreward further evidence around what happened on 5th of August with the 86th Cavalry Mech Squardon in Chaeteauneuf-du-Faou.
     
  3. Jpz4

    Jpz4 Active Member
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    Oct 24, 2012
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    Don't you already have enough other stuff to work on Pat? LOL

    Either way, interesting topic. I've found a few references regarding operations in Bretagne in German records. There may even be a few names of allied officers involved. I'll see what I can dig up.

    BTW, as for keeping German troops busy in Bretagne, the actions were a rather serious nuisance, but don't forget that two German corps (HQ plus units), four German divisions and three battle groups from other divisions were still sent from Breatgne to Normandy after the invasion. Most of the troops that remained could not be missed in the coastal defences any way. The absence of these forces provided the resistance fighters with considerable more room to conduct operations. It doesn't seem they were able to control any major areas until the second half of July. At that time most of those German units had already left for Normandy.

    At some point Bretagne was included in the 'Combat area', which until then had consisted of just Normandy. The date this happened may indicate the success of the restance movement in Bretagne, but I'll have to look up the exact date.
     
  4. marketc47

    marketc47 Active Member
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    Feb 15, 2013
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    Pat,

    I have read of a glider operation in that area. Thought it was in July.
    Would that be the same operation?

    If so, I wil check where I did read it.
     
  5. Jpz4

    Jpz4 Active Member
    Researcher

    Oct 24, 2012
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    I've been checking the Ic reports. COmbined they give a rather good impression of what the German troops encountered. Let me know if there are any specific topics/locations you want me to look for.

    One report concerning D-Day states that, of a group of 10 French paratroopers, three were captured and one was killed near Plumelec . They had been armed with 'machine pistols' two transmitters, maps and aerial photos.

    Regarding gliders, on the morning of 7 June it was reported three gliders had landed near Tr.Üb.Pl. Coëtquidan at 06:30. One of them directly in the camp, the others nearby. A fourth glider landed at 08:30.

    Names:
    1) Mid July: Maj. Bourgoin (one armed) commander of "XV. Fallschirm Jäger Batl. I S.A.S". According to the records, the Maj. jumped at St. Marcel and took over command in the area.
    2) German troops destroyed a camp in late late July.. Capturing the command vehicle of an "English Maj. Wise, leader of the resistance forces (Banden) at Côte du Nord"
     
  6. Pat Curran

    Pat Curran Administrator
    Staff Member

    Oct 20, 2012
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    Co. Kilkenny, Ireland
    Hi Guys,

    Thanks for updating this thread.

    Hans; yes please, I would be very interested in a copy of the Team Giles narrative. IIRC, there was another Jedburgh team at the Dingson Camp when it was attacked by a large force of Germans, backed by artillery, on the 18th June.

    Niels, have you come across any account of this battle? Apparently the camp had grown to an enormous size, way beyond prudent security considerations and the Germans were aware of its existence for some time before the battle.

    Apparently there were four initial SAS missions to Brittany on the night of the 5th June: 'Samwest', 'Dingson', 'Cooney' and 'Lost'. It is said that the first D-Day causality was Corporal Bouetard, an SAS Trooper from one of these groups, who was killed in a fight with German troops near the LZ.

    I have also come across references to 'Cooney Parties' who were dropped on the following night over large, scattered areas of Brittany. Anyone know who these guys were?

    Several other re-supply drops were made to the teams, especially to the Dingson Team at the camp set up at Saint Marcel right up to the day of the battle on the 18th June.

    The drops and later re-supply missions were mainly carried out by aircraft of No.s 298 and 644 Squadrons, RAF 38 Group out of Tarrant Rushton. A good idea of the exent of these missions to Brittany can be seen by the map on the 38 Group site here.

    Hans, your reference to gliders is certainly of interest and I would be grateful if you could dig further please. There is a reference on Wiki to an 'Operation Dingson 35A' on the 5th August, when 10 Waco gliders were towed to Brittany by 38 Group tugs. The date seems a bit late to me for such a big effort, as Patton's tankers were by then loose in Brittany.

    I must look up the late Tom Ensminger's 'Carpetbagger' files to see if there is any reference to Brittany therein. Quite some time back, I corresponded with Tom in relation to a pre D-Day drop on DZ 'O' west of Sainte Mere Eglise and he was very helpful. He sadly passed away a couple of years back but his files (many thousands) on the 801st/492nd BG ('Carpetbaggers') are still maintained on the web.

    Thanks again guys, and do please keep the info coming.

    Regards,

    Pat
     
  7. Adams453

    Adams453 Active Member
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    Jul 11, 2015
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    hello Pat,
    I have just finished 'Fire from the Forest' by Roger Ford which was quite a good book and deals with SAS operations in France 44, mostly June-August. Carpetbaggers get a mention and I am sure Coonies do too, but they are not in the index.

    Adam
     
  8. Pat Curran

    Pat Curran Administrator
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    Oct 20, 2012
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    Thanks Adam,

    I'll keep an eye out for that book.

    Regards,

    Pat
     
  9. hans_ni-hi

    hans_ni-hi Active Member
    Researcher

    Nov 30, 2014
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    Hi Pat,

    ask pro,ised here asa attachment is the report from 'Team Giles' from Elliot Rosner(my post
     
  10. hans_ni-hi

    hans_ni-hi Active Member
    Researcher

    Nov 30, 2014
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    Hi Pat,

    here is the narrative from 'Team Giles' from Elliot Rosner as mentioned in the post #2 as an attachment.

    I keept the pages in order of the original.

    The narrative mentioned as last location a small village of Plessis in the community of Laz.

    Some more info can be found here in French Wiki for Laz
     

    Attached Files:

  11. Pat Curran

    Pat Curran Administrator
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    Oct 20, 2012
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    Co. Kilkenny, Ireland
    Thanks Hans,

    Looks like these Jed teams were not expected to return; the stores officer deeming it unnecessary for Captain Knox to sign for his special equipment prior to departure for France!

    I had a look through my copy of 'The Jedburghs - The Secret History of the Allied Special Forces, France 1944' by Will Irwin and unfortunately the author, while mentioning Team Giles a couple of times, concentrates far more on the exploits of Team Frederick, which Captain 'Bernie' Knox's Team Giles was sent as reinforcements on the night of 8th July.

    p. 90
    Following the loss of Team Frederick's radio in a German raid on that team's CP, the next week, it is noted that Team Giles reported the attack and the loss of the Frederick radio to Special Forces Headquarters on the 18th July.

    Team Giles was one of the true international Jed teams dropped into France and the book confirms the team comprised of:

    • Capt. Bernard M. W. "Bernie" Knox, American Code Name: 'Kentucky'
    • Capt. Paul Grall (Paul Lebel), French Code Name: 'Loire'
    • Sgt. Gordon H. Tack, W/T, British. Code Name 'Tickie'

    Note that French Jeds were given pseudonyms to protect their families in France in the event of capture.

    Forces War Records has one Gordon Hugh Tack (Royal Armoured Corps) being awarded the Military Medal in 1945, which may or may not be Team Giles wireless operator.

    Regards,

    Pat
     
  12. marketc47

    marketc47 Active Member
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    Feb 15, 2013
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    Gary Best has four pages about Dingson 35 in his book Silent Invaders.
     
  13. Pat Curran

    Pat Curran Administrator
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    Oct 20, 2012
    2,541
    9
    Co. Kilkenny, Ireland
    Thanks Hans,

    I done some googling on 'Dingson 35A' and found this page from Tim Lynch's 'Silent Skies: The Glider War 1939-1945':

    [​IMG]

    Does anyone know the exact location of the LZ 'near Auray'?

    Thanks,

    Pat
     
  14. Pat Curran

    Pat Curran Administrator
    Staff Member

    Oct 20, 2012
    2,541
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    Co. Kilkenny, Ireland
    A bit more work here,

    The LZ was 'at' the village of 'Sainte-Hélène', which is about ⅔ of the way along the line Auray - Lorient.

    I note that TNA have the ORBs for both 'Special Duties' Squadrons 298 and 644 for August. Hopefully there is a 'pinpoint' in one of these documents for the LZ. I also note with interest that there are Appendices available covering the date window of interest here.

    Does anyone have these ORBs before I order them?

    Thanks,

    Pat
     
  15. Pat Curran

    Pat Curran Administrator
    Staff Member

    Oct 20, 2012
    2,541
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    Co. Kilkenny, Ireland
    Hi All,

    I purchased both the Form 541 and the Appendices for No. 298 (Special Duties) Squadron, RAF last night from TNA.

    The Appendices in particular is a remarkable document and contains 'Glider Raid Reports' (new to me) for all 10 Waco gliders of Operation Dingson 35A.

    Its a very large 77MB PDF, so I'll extract the relevant pages into a smaller document for embedding in this thread.

    The location of the LZ is quoted as 47°41'N, 03°04'W, which, if Google Maps is pointing me to the correct location, is the stubble field here. This is about 11Kms east of Sainte-Hélène however, so I am seeking local knowledge to confirm the location please.

    Thanks,

    Pat
     
  16. Pat Curran

    Pat Curran Administrator
    Staff Member

    Oct 20, 2012
    2,541
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    Co. Kilkenny, Ireland
    A rare photo!

    Found a photo of the gliders in Brittany on the L'Aviation en Bretagne site here.

    French SAS troops in American built 'Hadrians' (aka Waco) gliders, piloted by British Army aircrew (Glider Pilot Regiment) and towed by RAF crewed tow planes!

    Regards,

    Pat
     
  17. Pat Curran

    Pat Curran Administrator
    Staff Member

    Oct 20, 2012
    2,541
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    Co. Kilkenny, Ireland
    OK,

    Here are the two pages of the 'Glider Raid Report' for Glider #11 of Operation Dingson 35A:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Anyone ever seen one of these reports before?

    They are new to me and and I would be interested to know if they were only created for clandestine missions such as Dingson 35A.

    Thanks,

    Pat
     
  18. allan125

    allan125 Active Member
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    Apr 20, 2013
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    Hello Pat

    Interesting subject, casual the way it mentions one Waco going missing, but no further comment!

    Perhaps the behaviour of some SAS was how they were betrayed in some cases, then tortured and murdered.

    Allan
     
  19. Pat Curran

    Pat Curran Administrator
    Staff Member

    Oct 20, 2012
    2,541
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    Co. Kilkenny, Ireland
    Hi Allan,

    I would like to see if there is any cover of the LZ in the NCAP archive. I fear not, but will send an email to them before requesting an official paid search.

    Regards,

    Pat
     
  20. allan125

    allan125 Active Member
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    Apr 20, 2013
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    Male
    Retired - although it doesn't feel like it
    Cornwall/UK
    Are we going to change the site title now we are expanding in to Brittany?? ☺☺
     

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