German Player's Report
Although as a German commander I am afraid to say that we did not succeed in blocking the British paras, I can report that the garrison of the Merville Battery gave a good account of themselves and an awful lot of paras will be buried at Merville.
British Player's Report
Report from BBC Correspondent attached 9 PARA Merville battery. I can see very little for the smoke billowing from the four huge casemates. Smoke that signals that 9 Para have done their job well. In an expertly executed, aggressive attack, 9 Para once again proved that the German soldier is no match for his British and Allied counterpart.
Official History HMSO 9 PARA, depleted by a haphazard drop onto DZ V, were split into two attack groups. Attacking from the South East and lead by Lt Col Otway were 1 and 2 Platoon. Attacking from the North East were 4, 5 and 6 Platoon lead by Major Barrat. 3 Platoon together with the solitary Vickers and 2" mortar, the Battalions only support, remained at the Forward Holding Point which was some distance to the east of the battery in a wood.
Lt Col John Otway, O/C 9 PARA: "Quite simply put I expected it to be a bloody shambles. I only had six platoons when I had expected a full battalion. The sappers performed a miracle by getting us to and through the wire. The South Eastern group took some casualties from a machine gun nest outside of the perimeter. 2 Platoon soon dealt with them. Once in the battery the platoons, led admirably by their officers, stormed a number of bunkers disabled the guns and drove the Jerry troops underground. It was tough, no quarter fighting and I believe that no other troops in the world could have done it. We took heavy casualties as resistance was fierce but it had to be done."
Private Stan McNutt, 1 Platoon, 9 PARA: "It was just after I got through the wire that I copped one in the leg. I then had a grandstand seat for the battle. It was bloody madness. Otway lead section after section against the Casemates and bunkers. I'd see them all dash off screaming like banshee's into the smoke. Then there would be a deafening rattle of Spandau, Bren and Sten gun fire and then quiet. Then old Otway would come charging out of the smoke alone, looking for another section to lead back. He took three or four sections off like that. Only he ever came back. They called him Lucky Otway after that."
Sergeant Williams, 5 Platoon. 9 PARA: "We were on the north east attack force. As we dashed through the wire a Spandau opened up from an entrenched position off to our left. There were loads of Jerries in the trenches there as well. A lot of my mates got hit then and we all went to ground. 6 Platoon came in behind us and peeled right heading for the casemates. They took No.1 first. By this time us and 4 Platoon were well and truly pinned. It was only Major Barrat and Lt Polesworth who were able to get us moving again.
Lt Roly Polesworth, 9 PARA: I must say it was awfully exciting. I could hear the Spandau rattling away and called for a section beside me to open fire at the Boche. Jerry was popping away at us and 4 Platoon and I could see poor old 4 were devastated. It riled me up even more and I called on the chaps to follow me. I dashed to the trench and we began mixing it with the Hun. Wild Willy [Major Willy Barrat] sprinted past me screaming obscenities and before I realised it, he had destroyed the Spandau and its crew. We then pushed up the trench towards the main gate and the ruined house there as we could hear the south eastern assault having a hard fight there.
Corporal 'Flash' Harry Harrison, 2 Platoon, 9 PARA: My section was lying about wounded or dead. We had tried charging the ruined house but Jerry fire was just too hard. I took cover in an ammunition bunker and hunkered down to return fire. No one could move. We were pinned down.
Lt Roly Polesworth, 9 PARA: Somehow 3 Platoon had charged up the road into the battery to support the attack. They were pinned down by a Spandau firing from the ruined house. Sadly we couldn't get to them before they were wiped out. I'm sorry to say that we didn't take any prisoners after seeing that.
Private Robbie Rotten, 6 Platoon: We could see that the Colonel had taken No.4 casemate. We had moved on and attacked No.2. The fight was quick and bloody. Hand to hand stuff. Grenades, Stens, bayonets and fists. My mate got hit in the stomach and I dragged him out just before the gun blew. The boys dashed off to No.3 and I saw the Major lead a charge on the embrasure. He was killed at the point the Jerrys started coming out with their hands up. The Colonel was the other side of the casemate about to charge it single handedly! He was the only one left of the south east force left standing.
Gefreiter Hans Steiner, Battery 1./AR 1716: I was in the command bunker through out. I watched as one by one our guns were destroyed but we fought them to a standstill a number of times. They were tough these fallschirmjagers, true fighting men. They beat us in the end, but we fought well. We held off the best the Allies had to offer for a couple of hours.
Lt Col John Otway, O/C 9 PARA: I went into Merville with 140 men. I came out with just 30.
Official History, HMSO: Destroying the guns of Merville saved countless lives on SWORD.
Corporal 'Flash' Harry Harrison, 2 Platoon, 9 PARA: It was a job that they said had to be done at any cost. 9 PARA got it done.