2697126 Guardsman John Paterson PRENTICE, 3 Scots Guards: 30/07/1944

Discussion in 'The Brigade of Guards' started by aeroplanegripper, Apr 25, 2005.

  1. Hello everyone,
    I'm trying to find out if anyone knows of anyone who served with my partners Grandfather, John Patterson Prentice, who was killed in action at the Battle of Caumont on 30 July 44. He was with the 3rd Battalion Scots Guards and had only been in France for 10 days when he was killed.

    Service Number 2697126
    Died 30/07/1944
    Aged 27
    3rd Bn. Scots Guards
    Location: Calvados, France
    Cemetery/memorial reference: VIII. B. 5. Spec. Memorial.

    Paul, the Webmaster, has done some excellent research for me, but we would love to find further details on his job (Probably a tanker on Churchills), any mates he was with, or any photos of the Scots in France.
    I have enclosed the only photograph of him known to exist.
    Really hope someone can help.

    Best Regards


    View attachment 663
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 17, 2019
  2. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA

    Rank: Guardsman
    Regiment/Service: Scots Guards
    Unit Text: 3rd Bn.
    Age: 27
    Date of Death: 30/07/1944
    Service No: 2697126
    Grave/Memorial Reference: VIII. B. 5. Spec. Memorial.

    PRENTICE, J.P (Large).JPG
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2017
  3. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    30 July 1944 - A bad day for the Scots Guards.

    It was indeed Rob. Thank you very much for the photos. So many 'Special Memorials' there - I see they that they've marked them Buried Near This Spot.

    We moved off in the evening of the 29th and harboured in some steep fields under the CAUMONT ridge and just East of the town. (The precise spot is beautifully illustrated in a double-page photograph in “The Illustrated London News” of August 12th). The night was warm and quiet too, except for our own guns; but at dawn some shelling and mortaring of the valley behind us made things uncomfortable for the infantry and eventually the ARGYLLS moved close up under cover of the ridge.

    The attack on LUTAIN WOOD proceeded slowly and it was nearly 7.15 before we crossed our Start Line and began to descent the forward slope of the ridge. As we advanced, with Right Flank on the right and ‘S’ Squadron on the left, we encountered heavy fire from 15cm guns and 12 cm mortars. For the next quarter of a mile the strength of the enemy positions between LE BOURG and LUTAIN WOOD made fast progress impossible and at one time time Right Flank were deflected to support a Company of the 2nd GORDONS into the Western edge of the wood. At half-past nine we were still fighting in the LE BOURG-LUTAIN WOOD area and it became clear that unless we hurried the pace we should miss the barrage for the main attack. The Commanding Officer therefore ordered the tanks to move forward as fast as possible in spite of the opposition. This they did, dealing successfully with numerous enemy pockets on the way: but the result was that we outstripped the ARGYLLs who were unable to keep up over the rough ground.

    By 12.15 we had advanced well over a mile, killing many Germans with Besa and HE fire and causing a considerable number to surrender. But we were now so far ahead of the ARGYLLs that we were ordered to halt and wait for them to catch up. During this halt ‘S’ Squadron were worried by sniping from various cottages but Lieutenant HUMBLE and Lieutenant CUNNINGHAM silenced this with HE and later a number of corpses were found in the buildings. By 1.15. it was apparent that the infantry were so far behind that if we waited longer for them the chance of benefitting from the barrage and gaining the ridge without undue opposition would be gone. The Commanding Officer therefore obtained permission for us to push on with all speed alone. Moving with remarkable rapidity ‘S’ Squadron reached the left slope of the feature with has been described as forming a separate summit at 2.30 p.m. Right Flank, unable to pass through the village of LES LOGES without infantry support, were forced to turn left and follow them. The position was consolidated by 2.30 with Right Flank on the right, ‘S’ Squadron on the left and Left Flank in support. We were now ready to go on to Point 309 - the final objective; but permission to do so was refused and at about the same time, information was received that the attack upon our right had succeeded and that infantry mounted upon tanks were to be passed up the VIRE road to secure this hill. About the fortunes of the 43rd DIVISION on our left nothing was known and it was impossible to reconnoitre in that direction since CHURCHILLs were the only vehicle which had succeeded in crossing the rough ground.

    Meanwhile the point which we occupied was a full four miles as the crow flies into enemy territory. If it was lost the door which had been opened towards ST. MARTIN-DES-BESACES would be closed again. An immediate German counter-attack, with Armour, was therefore to be expected and until such time as the infantry could get up with some Anti-Tank guns there was no question of our being able to withdraw. Unfortunately the position was so exposed to shell and mortar fire that the ARGYLLs were reluctant to come up further than the village of LES LOGES; so there was nothing to be done but remain where we were.

    About 6 o’clock, just when the BBC News of the battle was coming over the air, the Germans put down a very heavy “stonk” hitting Captain BEESON’s tank twice - the second time killing him as he got out to rescue his wounded hull gunner. Five minutes later the long-awaited counter-attack arrived - but from an entirely unexpected direction. It began with a hail of armour-piercing shot from the depths of a thick wood some 300 yards to the left rear - an area which according to plan should by now have been cleared by the 43rd DIVISION. They were, alas, far behind.

    The first three shots knocked out the whole of Lieutenant CUNNINGHAM’s troop, the guardians of that flank, thus clearing a path for the enemy attack. The force consisted of three enormous SP guns - Germany’s latest and most formidable, the JAGD PANTHER, until then never seen by the British in action. Two of these monsters, covered by a third, charged through the gap into the center of ‘S’ Squadron and then slipped out of sight over the ridge to the left front, leaving eight more flaming hulks in their wake. Their approach had been masterly, covered from the supporting squadron (Left Flank) by a cottage and some thick hedge; but they were engaged going over the hill and not without effect: for some time later, two of them were found, a few hundred yards away, their tracks leading back to the scene of the action. The hit on one, which was burnt out, approximated closely to a claim by Lieutenant BANKES’ tank.

    Though over in perhaps five minutes, this counter-blow was a heavy one; the more so since Major CUTHBERT, the Second-in-Command, had chosen that moment to move over to look at the Left Flank. He must have met the enemy head-on, the tank being penetrated through its heaviest frontal armour, the ammuntion exploding and the turret leaping clean off.

    At about half-past seven our own SP guns were at last got into position and at about 10 p.m. we were able to withdraw from the ridge to a “Forward Rally” near a burning cottage at the Eastern extremity of LES LOGES. We had been for nearly seven hours upon the ridge after a long and bloody attack following two almost sleepless nights. As we moved back in the dark to find a harbour area we fell in by good luck with Major Sir Charles MACLEAN and ‘A’ Echelon and turned aside into the nearest field. The cooks had a hot meal ready for us as soon as we had filled up with petrol, but most men were too tired to eat.

    Speaking nearly a year later of this battle, the Commander of the 2nd ARMY, Lieutenant General DEMPSEY, described it as one of the most important in the whole war: he considered that after it had been fought a victorious end to the campaign was a certainty and was only a matter of time. It is known that our attack wiped out a complete “Regiment” - or Brigade as we should call it - of three battalions belonging to the 361st DIVISION. The enemy did not apparently suspect that tanks could be employed in such country. Unsupported by Anti-Tank guns, they were completely demoralised by the CHURCHILLs’ fire power and offered little or no opposition to the infantry following up. Our own heavy tank casualties emphasised the lack of some form of reconnaissance vehicle that can keep up with CHURCHILLs over bad going.

    See also

    Scots Guards RoH, WW2 Casualties
    Deacs likes this.
  4. Mr Jinks

    Mr Jinks Bit of a Cad


    Rank: Guardsman
    Regiment/Service: Scots Guards
    Unit Text: 3rd Bn.
    Age: 27
    Date of Death: 30/07/1944
    Service No: 2697126
    Grave/Memorial Reference: VIII. B. 5. Spec. Memorial.

    Last edited: Oct 10, 2023
    Deacs and dbf like this.

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