Kenneth Taylor’s War Diary page 6
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Monday 14 August, 44
Went back to North of Mt Pincon and arrived in rest area in time for lunch. The usual type of rest with kit checks, parades, and not much rest – but oh! no shelling! After hearing a talk by Bde I.O. it appears that the Jerries are completely encircled. Our work of the past week has not shown much result but there is no doubt that we have been instrumental in cracking the hardcore of resistance in everything we have done. We have lost 36 officers and over 800 men, 600 of them Battle Casualties.
Tues 15 – Thurs 17 August, 44
Resting – some of the time – plenty of work. Made a trip to Aunay sur Odon. This town is about twice as devastated as Villers Bocage. All one sees is a road cut through heaps of rubble piled on both sides, and no building stands except for the church steeple.
We are busy making ourselves into a mobile column to pursue the Jerries (we hope!). South France has been invaded and we have completed the encirclement in the North. I wish the BFs would pack-in. It seems silly to risk death a few more times when the result of the war is now so certain. During a rest like this our sensibilities and appreciation of life return and the sweetness of it makes the thought of death more difficult to tolerate than when one’s senses are numbed by the battle.
Friday 18 August, 44
Our mobile column sets out and we swan off thro’ Vassy to a place near Flers. A lovely day’s motoring, but I was nearly blinded by dust at the end of it. Many civilians about, who give a good welcome. We feel more like liberators especially as the towns are not badly damaged.
Saturday 19 August, 44
Made further short journey thro’ Athis to La Corneille where we spent a pleasant night. Nowhere near enemy but P.B.I. made to dig-in – for exercise.
Sunday 20 August, 44
Advanced through pleasant country NE for a few miles and stopped about lunch time in pleasant spot near St Honorine. Moved on in the dark thro’ Putanges. Rained all night and everyone got very wet.
Mon and Tues 21 and 22 Aug, 44
Rained. Felt sick and vomited. Spent night and next day in ambulance thro’ Argentan and Gace feeling rather ill. Greeted everywhere with flowers, fruit, and wild acclaim. Owing to quick retreat not much sign of damage. Spent another night in ambulance.
Wednesday 23 Aug, 44
Started early and had terrific welcome especially at Rugles. Hear that FFI have taken Paris. More rain. Rejoined Battalion. Stopped at Ambenay near Rugles and had a drenching night in a field.
Thursday 24 Aug, 44
Still pouring. Moved into an orchard with plenty of barns and the hospitality of a lovely house. Had the mess in a magnificent parlour. People here rather “collaborateurs” but this seems due to a sentimental religious pacifism and a dislike of La Canaille and Communism. The Resistance keep appearing with collaborateurs whose heads they shave. Probably a great many petty vendettas are settled in the name of La Resistance.
Friday 25 Aug, 44
Should have moved early this morning but postponed. Glorious hot day spent in mainly sitting on a telephone. Went to Rugles with Brian and saw Jim Rimmer. Went out in the evening and had the odd drink with the odd family. One merely walks up to a door and says Bonsoir and is then invited to partake of whatever is going. Learnt how to make Omelettes.
Saturday 26 Aug, 44
Reveille 0315 for early move to the Seine. Did not move until 0900. Then had the most glorious drive thro’ Evreux, down the lovely valley of the Eure to Pacy and thence Eastwards to a small village South East of Vernon. Lived in a barren field. Today was the best we have had with wild welcomes from the lovely smiling villages. The country is glorious and the people beautiful. It is heart breaking to have to waste all this enthusiasm by passing quickly thro’ it. However we obtained an enormous stock of eggs, tomatoes, apples, pears, plums, walnuts. The shower of fruit becomes extremely dangerous when one is moving quickly.
Sunday 27 Aug, 44
Spent an idle day in a not interesting place. Walked in the evening to the Seine and had a magnificent view from near Notre Dame de la Mer. A few Jerries could be seen in a wood on the other side. At night we had the most violent storm I have known, accompanied by a cyclone. Everyone absolutely drenched.
Monday 28 Aug, 44
Went for a short route march to Jeufosse on the Seine. Weather improved.