Operation 'TITANIC' - 6 June 1944 - Harfleur

Discussion in 'Top Secret' started by Camulard, Jul 7, 2019.

  1. Camulard

    Camulard Junior Member

    Hi all,

    I'm looking for informations about the SAS who were dropped during the Operation 'Titanic' as bait on the 6 June 1944. In particularly at Harfleur, in Upper Normandy (near Le Havre). I have original reports that mentions the dropping in Yvetot, Yerville, Doudeville, Fauville, Remilly-sur-Lozon, etc... but nothing about the Harfleur dropping.
    Some books tells that there were SAS in Harfleur, like the book "A Rising of Courage" of Dan Hartigan, but I can't find the official order mission, instruction or report.

    Is there someone who has an official document that mention Harfleur in the objective of Op. Titanic? Or any accounts of veterans who dropped here?

  2. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

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  3. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Last edited: Jul 7, 2019
  4. Skip

    Skip Senior Member

  5. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Hi Camulard,

    Check out this forum topic on Op Titanic:

    Operation TITANIC

    According to member CommanderChuff Titanic 1 was cancelled May 24th. His source is "Operational Instruction 1".

    Regards ...

    Edit: Source
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2019
  6. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    Here are a few quotes from "Overture to Overlord - Special Operations in Preparation for D-Day" by Francis MacKay - Pen and Sword. The final chapter of the book is titled "Titanic IV".

    "The original Taxable plan included several simulated paratroop landings, of which Operations Titanic I–IV are the best known. Only IV was mounted due to lack of transport aircraft, and scarcity of SAS troops due to the delays in getting 1 and 2 SAS back to Britain."

    My immediate impression was that it was only Titanic IV that went ahead, however, further along the author writes:

    "Just before 20:00 hours the Titanic and Bulbasket teams collected their Bergen rucksacks, radio and weapons and travelled by car to the airfield to collect their parachutes and pigeons. Tempsford appeared to be filled with aircraft. Among the first aircraft to take-off were the Halifax aircraft of 138 Squadron flying the two Titanic missions. Seven were allocated to Titanic I (plus four Stirlings from 149 Squadron flying from RAF Methwold, Suffolk to deliver Window) and one for Titanic IV; other Stirlings were to drop Window for Titanic IV.

    Titanic I went ahead as planned, despite a low cloud base of 1,000 feet over the DZ areas, which lay about 250 feet above sea level. Seven Halifax BII aircraft from 138 Squadron took part. Four dropped the dummy paratroops and packages through the Joe-holes, and three, plus the Stirlings, dropped Window. The operation appears to have gone as planned.

    The eighth Halifax, NF-M, flown by Flight Lieutenant Johnson, carried the Titanic IV teams and containers. It took off ‘on time’, and was logged back into Tempsford at 03:00 hours on 6 June; the log entry simply states ‘Dropped Party’; the RAF had played its part, and delivered the SAS teams to the DZ. The troops had jumped but it was not as simple as the log indicates."

    So according to the book it was only Titanic IV that dropped SAS men and all 6 were on same aircraft. I have no idea at this time if Titanic II and III went ahead as planned or were cancelled?

    Regards ...
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2019
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  7. Camulard

    Camulard Junior Member

    Thanks for all links and reference.
    Lt Marcel Côté, 1st Can Para Bn, told that there were other passengers, that he didn't know, in the C-47 with him and his stick: a British captain, a Lieutenant and two other ranks (with one large radio). On the Drop Zone, Côté didn't see this men with them. He guessed that his stick was used as bait and the others passengers were maybe SAS with a radio that make battle noises like the others SAS used for the operation "Titanic".
  8. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    Lt. Cote may have mistaken the FOO party in his stick for SAS men. Here are the men who made up Lt. Cote's stick sent by Brithm when we were looking into the Canadian stick and glider (Sgt. Potts, GPR) that came down north of the Seine near Le Havre:

    Lt. M. Cote (P/W)
    Sgt. Gordon Breen (WIA-P/W)
    Cpl. H. Miller (P/W)
    Cpl. Stu Richardson (P/W) - ??
    Pte. Doug Mearow (P/W)
    Pte. Clyde Dunphy (PW)
    Pte. Joseph Nigh (KIA) Signalman HQ Company
    Pte. Don Waddell? (PW)
    Pte. John Coburn (KIA)
    Pte. Jean Dumas (POW)
    Pte. Mike Warwick (PW)
    Pte. W.H. Kendry - Batman (PW)
    Pte. W.J. Summerhays (PW)

    British FOO Party 53WY [said to be a party of four, I believe there are only three?]

    Capt/Lt ? Robert Edward Ayrton (P/W - 7th Field Regiment, R.A.)
    2 ORs large radio transmitter
    Dvr.? "Blondie" Webster (P/W - liberated)
    Gnr. Kenneth J. Lamzed (P/W)

    There was an account by David "Dai" King on the site "Go To It Gunners" which confirms this. King was best pals with Gnr. Ken Lamzed and was originally part of this FOO party until being switched to another when replaced by Blondie Webster. Unfortunately the site is no longer available.

    Regards ...
    Last edited: May 1, 2020
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  9. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    This may interest you. Not a lot is known about the passengers on Horsa CN 45 that was piloted by S/Sgt. W. Jones and Sgt. John Potts. He believes he came down some where near Bolbec which is over 30 kilometres north east of Le Havre. Montivilliers, 12 klicks outside of Le Havre is another possibility, though I don't know the original source for that location.

    There is an audio interview with John Potts on the IWM site

    Potts, John Denis (Oral history)

    Go to the 21 minute mark of reel 4 to hear who he believes was on his glider. He claims there were 3 groups of 4 men. The first was a Royal Artillery FOO (FOsB?) party consisting of a Captain and 3 Bombardiers. The next group of 4 was a scouting party attached to the SAS under command of a Sergeant. The third group was a signals party who had control of the jeep and may have also had a SAS connection. He also maintains that he learnt in the late 90s that a Lieutenant and three soldiers were able to get away in the jeep after they landed. The three men were later killed in a firefight and the Lieutenant was tied to a tree and clubbed to death by the Germans in a nearby village.

    There are a few problems with the story of the 4 men who got away. The Germans for one were all over them immediately after they landed. Also there is actual footage of the Germans unloading the jeep from CN 45. Perhaps those 4 men were able to escape from their landing location but they didn't do it in a jeep. So you have to be very cautious about what is claimed here. My impression is that he didn't know a lot about who these guys actually were and "thinks" there may have have been a SAS connection.

    Regards ...
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2019
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  10. Camulard

    Camulard Junior Member

    Thank you very much Cee, that is interesting! I made the list also the Côté's stick. But in mine, I didn't have Cpl Stu Richardson.

    For the gliders, I think there were in Bolbec and in Montivilliers. About this last one, I have just the accounts from some French civilians who picked up some parts of the wreckage. I heard that this glider was just load of motorbikes, used by the Germans after. One of the pilot, maybe both, was hidden by a French resistant until the liberation.
    For the Bolbec's glider, Chalk 45, the scenery on the photos looks like the hills surrounding Bolbec. But I don't know exactly the place... I have two others names of the prisoners in the north of Seine: T/Capt William JACOB and Gnr Gordon LARGE, both RA.
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  11. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Perhaps the POW's are:

    UK, British Prisoners of War, 1939-1945
    Name: G Large
    Rank: Gunner
    Army Number: 14332084
    Regiment: Royal Artillery
    POW Number: 53170
    Camp Type: Stalag
    Camp Number: IX-C
    Camp Location: Mühlhausen, Hesse

    Name: W G E Jacob
    Rank: Captain
    Army Number: 99359
    Regiment: Royal Artillery
    POW Number: 3417
    Camp Type: Oflag
    Camp Number: V-A
    Camp Location: Weinsberg, Baden-Württemberg

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  12. Camulard

    Camulard Junior Member

    Yes, that's them.
  13. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    CN 45 was one of two gliders attached to the 5th Parachute Brigade HQ carrying FOO parties. The Other glider, CN 90, left from RAF Harwell and crash landed on LZ N. On board was Major The Honourable Charles Russell, Officer Commanding FOO and FOB for the 5th Brigade, who briefly mentions CN 45 in a piece by Tony Teacher:

    "I hoped to find the duplicate of my glider load with my second-in-command complete with wireless and jeep all laid on by a far sighted C.R.A. He was not there. He had landed north of the Seine and was confusing the German Intelligence 100 miles away."

    So the jeep in John Potts' glider belonged to a FOO party and I wonder if he might have created two parties out of one as he tried to recall many years later who his passengers were. At the moment the only glider that I know of that came down north of the Seine was CN 45.

    In his attempt to escape the Germans pressing in on his glider after the crash Potts was stunned by a mortar bomb and knocked unconscious. He came to sometime later in a small church being attended to by a German Doctor. Afterwards he was taken out for a photo session with captured Canadian paratroopers. While there he hears the word "Bolbec" from some nearby ambulance people and reckons that is where he is.

    The only problem is I don't believe the Canadian Paras were taken anywhere near Bolbec. Canadian Cpl. Harold Miller says after capture they were marched to a prison in Le Havre, whereas Sgt. Breen, in an online newspaper report, claims it was an old POW camp built in 1846. A photo of Sgt. Potts to rear with facial injury, with Canadian Paras in foreground.

    Sgt. John Potts with Canadians.jpg

    If his glider did land near Bolbec there is a possibility he could have been brought down to Le Havre while still unconscious? Later both he and his partner Pilot Bill Jones were separated from the others, interrogated and then driven to the Amiens prison that same night.

    A few mysteries there and hopefully we find out more on Capt. Jacob and Gnr. Large.

    Regards ...
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2019
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  14. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place.... Patron

    The FOOs were additional to the strength of 53 Worcester Yeomanry and draw from volunteers from other gunner units. Some were drawn from field artillery units that would support 6th airborne Division such as 7th and 150th field regiments. The radios were No 68R sets. The FsOB and BC parties landed in gliders. IIRC the airborne FOO parties were three men FOO,Ack and Signaller. There was no vehicle for a "driver"
  15. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Hi Sheldrake,

    Thank you for the clarifications, all help with regards artillery matters gratefully received. So Ken Lamzed was most likely a signaller rather than a driver. Could you define the terms "BC parties" and "IIRC"? In the case of the British Airborne on D-Day there were some FOB parties who were parachuted in.

    Here are a few charts from the various O.O.s regarding distribution of FOOs and FOBs with the Airborne. left to right - HQ 6th Airborne Division, 5th Parachute Brigade, 3rd Parachute Brigade, 6th Airlanding Brigade.

    6 AB Div HQ - FOOs & FOBs.JPG 5th Para Brigade - FOOs and FOBs.JPG 3rd Para Brigade - FOOs & FOBs.JPG 6th Airlanding Brigade - FOOS & FOBs.JPG

    Many of these parties went astray on D-Day and trying to sort out what actually happened to them is no easy matter with much info missing.

    Regards ...
  16. Camulard

    Camulard Junior Member

    Hi Cee, where did you find the accounts from Miller and Breen?

  17. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    The Harold Miller reference comes from Gary Boegel's book "Boys of the Clouds". That's also where we learn from Pte. Sid Carigan that Stu Richardson belonged to the stick. From Miller's account:

    "I met up with Sgt. Breen, Lt. Cote and Privates Summerhays, Dunphy, Mearow, Waddell and Dumas after we were captured. Sgt. Breen was wounded and sent to a hospital. The rest of us were scarred up with shrapnel mostly from German stick grenades. The Germans marched us to a prison in Le Havre."

    The Gordon Breen reference appeared in an Owen Sound Sun Time article dated June 6th, 2009 by reporter Garret Mitchell:

    "Captured by the Germans, Breen was sent to an old POW camp that was built in 1846. The Germans interrogated Breen repeatedly asking him, "When are you coming?" His captors were not amused as each time he responded, "I'm here, and I'm here right now!""

    Unfortunately the link for that is dead but I saved the page. Gordon Breen was the Owen Sound Fire Chief for many years. He died September 2nd, 2012.

    Regards ...
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  18. caillard

    caillard New Member

    The CN45 has landed nea
  19. caillard

    caillard New Member

    The CN45 has landed behind the house of my grandfather Jean Caillard and the house of his sister Marie-Thérèse Dupont born Caillard. 1 chemin de Buglise Montivilliers.
    Strange because the glider has landed on a wheat field own by someone who has all his family in resistance (Patrice Dupont was FAFL 300640, wounded in nov 40 at libreville, FNFL, BCRA SOE and more ..., JF has deserted the vichy for the allies at Durban, Michel was killed as a link agent for british artillery, and more info.....)
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  20. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    That is wonderful news to hear after all these years and thank you so much for letting us know! I also heard from Ludo recently that the landing site for CN 45 had come to light. I don't think glider pilot John Potts himself knew the exact location and unfortunately he has since passed on. Your family's involvement in WW2 also sounds very interesting.

    Regards ...

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