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    This title is currently out of print. It will be re-published shortly.


Sainfoin’s War
By W.J. Mitchell and Colin Buckenham



The name Crossbow was part of a series which included Lance, Broadsword, Javelin, Mace, Arquebus (Crossbows partner) and Halibard all of whom had the prefix Empire. For `D'day `Crossbow' and `Arquebus' carried the first battalion Royal Hampshires `A' & `B' companies plus H.Q. support sections in `Crossbow', `C' & `D' companies plus support in `Arquebus'. `Crossbow' carried 18 LCAs plus an LCM, ten of these carried in `A' & `B' companies and five in the

support company. We left Southampton on the 5th June 1944 at about 6.30pm. as part of force `G'. The forces were lettered after the names of the beaches which were to be invaded, i.e. `U' for Utah, `O' for Omaha, `G' for Gold, `J' for Juno and `S' for Sword. Utah and Omaha were the two U.S. beaches and were the furthest West, Gold, Juno and Sword were British and Canadian respectively to the East. The tide came in from the West so that Utah beach was the first to be invaded, Omaha the second, Gold the third, Juno the fourth and Sword the fifth. Thus the Hampshires `A' & `B' companies from `Crossbow' were the first British Infantry to land from the sea on `D'day. They were also in the Position of Honour, i.e. the extreme right flank of the line. They were followed by `C' & `D' companies from `Arquebus' and the support and H.Q. companies (5 LCA's from `Crossbow' and 5 from `Arquebus' joined company and which I had the honour to command). We were led in by an M.L. which had the latest radar, and we had to pass a Midget Submarine which had been anchored off our beach for two nights. A half mile from the beach the M.L. turned away and we had to run straight in and hit the beach at full revs to prevent being broached. (Gold beach was later described s having the roughest weather). The `DD' (floating) tanks and the (AVREs) or Armoured Vehicles Royal Engineers, Flame Throwers, Sandpushers, Flail Tanks etc. which were supposed to land five minutes before the Hampshires and deal with the beach defences, were all sunk or wiped out on the beach so that `A' & `B' companies followed by the others had a terrible time doing it all by themselves with only infantry weapons to rely on. `A' company were more or less wiped out, the survivors being joined to `C', the Battalion commander was gravely wounded, the second in command was killed. Altogether there were 187 casualties (about half of the total of the Falkland casualties). The Hampshires nevertheless pressed on inland and back to capture the little, but terribly well defended seaside village of Le Hamel, then pressed on West along the coast for three miles to capture, by nine o'clock that night, the small port of Arromanches. This was a vitally important capture as immediately the port was secured the artificial port (Port Winston) was to be towed over and put in place. They were the only ones who on `D'day achieved their `D'day objective. The Major who took over from the C.O. and 2 i/c, and saw the whole thing through was awarded the D.S.O., the Major in charge of `D' company was awarded the M.C., and a Sergeant and a Lance Corporal were awarded the MM. `Crossbow' lost three LCA's, I understand, and at least one leading hand. We, the 553rd LCA Flotilla at least three trips over, two to Gold and One to Utah before being relieved by the Royal Marines. I personally was stuck on the beach after my second trip on `D'day and had to rejoin the ship late next day when she returned from Southampton..

"Exciting Days"

Ben Sullivan. M.B.E.