For my part I was given command of the 9th Battalion, to which the Merville task had been assigned. Honestly, I believe that anyone could have done what I did, but that no other battalion would have been better than the 9th.
Lieutenant-Colonel Terence Otway
The Merville Battery was defended by 130 German soldiers and extended over 3 hectares. It included 4 casemates, each containing a powerful gun, underground shelters and a command post. The battery was connected by telephone to a look-out post on the beach and protected by two barbed-wire fences, an all-round minefield and an anti-tank ditch.
The Merville Battery was the objective which Lieutenant-Colonel Otway and the 9th Battalion of the British Parachute Regiment had to neutralize in the early hours of D-Day.
On the 5th June 194, at 3110hrs the men of the 9th Battalion embarked in their Dakotas and gliders. Unable to see the dropping zone, the pilots of the planes scattered the 600 paratroops across the marshes of the River Dives which had been flooded on the orders of Field Marshall Rommel.
They suffered many casualties and only 150 of them met at the appointed rendezvous with little equipment and few weapons.
Of the Battalion’s 3 assault gliders, none landed as planned and none of the 5 support gliders landed at all.
In spite of this, Lieutenant-Colonel Otway and his men carried out their impossible task.
More to follow…
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