Lochbroom Folk

Lochbroom's Sacrifice in the Second World War

Page 07

   
Captain Patrick Munro of Foulis  [Photo:  Ross and Cromarty Heritage Society.]   


Extracts from Captain Patrick Munro of Foulis’ diary - Company Commander of ‘C’ Company, are shown in italics with his initials PM at the beginning.

27th May: PM. “Travelling very slowly through Rouen we saw the preparations the French were making to try and stop the German advance. The bridges over the river were being sandbagged and hastily prepared for demolition and there were many troops about. The subsequent speed of the German advance was so great that they didn’t have time or neglected to blow these bridges and the Germans found them intact on reaching the town. We travelled some 30 miles by way of Neufchatel to a RV called “Starfish Cross Roads” in the Foret d’Eu.”

It is more or less certain that the crossroads shown in this postcard, Poteau Maitre-Jean, south of Blangy, is the exact place where the troops rested (Starfish Crossroads.)

The signpost is one of 28 poles scattered in the forest, installed from 1876 to 1902 at the initiative of the Duke of Aumale, the Count of Paris and Count Baston d’OrlĂ©ans, successive owners of the Forest of Eu. In other forests the poles are generally wooden; here they are unique, made of cast iron and each weighs several tons.

27th May: PM. “The Battalion debussed and Companies went off to various ‘hides’ in the forest. A perimeter was formed with all-round defence and all the roads were blocked and covered by anti-tank rifles and guns. In the afternoon the CO took the Company Commanders in his car eight miles further north, through the small town of Blangy to a village called Le Translay which we were to occupy next day.  At 9 p.m. we marched in darkness and silence to Le Translay.  It had been completely evacuated in a hurry from what I saw when I went into some of the cottages.  In one I found a half-eaten meal still on the table; in another a kettle boiling on the fire.  Many animals had been left behind and birds in cages.  Whenever I got a chance I spent my time letting out caged rabbits and birds, and loosing chained dogs, all of which would otherwise have starved.”

28th May: At Le Translay

29th May: To Grebault-Mesnil: PM.“While walking along the road a French Army lorry passed us and then stopped. They had four or five German prisoners in the back.  They were the first Germans I had seen.  They were all wounded and looked very dirty and exhausted and rather frightened.”

30th May: PM. “Some of us went to a nearby village called Huppy with the CO for a conference. The French Commander was General de Gaulle who no one then attached much importance to. He was wearing a very tattered uniform and looked extremely tired. All this time we were under command of a French Corps and the Division took its orders from the French.”
Various sources say that installed in the attic of the highest house of Les Croisettes, De Gaulle follows the progress of his tanks in combat.  This was confirmed by a local resident. 
 
 


Photo:  Clare Church

30th May: PM. “We then went on to the village Behen which the Battalion was to occupy that afternoon. Just as we were completing our reconnaissances the Germans began shelling the village outskirts. My Company position was in a small wood in the grounds of a large chateau on the edge of the village. The Germans had occupied this village some days before. Just outside the front door two Germans had been buried and small wooden crosses put over their graves on which their tin hats were sitting. Because of this I didn’t think it was a very healthy place to have my Company HQ.  So I decided to steer clear of it and dug my headquarters position in the wood not far from the platoons.”

Photo:  Clare Church

31st May: PM. “At 10 a.m. orders came for us to relieve the 2nd Seaforths in Moyenneville. The village was being shelled sporadically as we arrived. I chose a small orchard on the north (enemy) side of the village for my Company HQ.  We dug two trenches, a ‘V’ shaped one large enough to hold ten men comfortably, and another smaller one fifteen yards away for the cooks.  In my ignorance I had chosen a most unfortunate spot for my HQ.  Mortar shells were coming over and bursting on impact with the top branches of the apple trees.  I went off to find another site for my Company HQ in another orchard but at the south end of the village.

1st June: At Moyenneville

2nd June: PM. “The day was fairly quiet until midday when the Germans began shelling Moyenneville.  They made a mess of the middle of the village and knocked the church steeple down.  Battalion HQ rang up in the afternoon to say that we were to withdraw that night. Shortly before midnight we set off across country, parallel to, but away from  the road leading out of the village. The Germans must have known some kind of relief was taking place as they were shelling this road the whole time.  Our progress was slow and we seemed to come across enormous hedges and ditches every ten yards.”

 

Moyenneville Church.  [Photo: Clare Church}

3rd June: PM. “About 4.00 a.m. we arrived at a place called Les Alleux, the Battalion. RV.”
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