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Authie & Buron: Battle Account, N. Nova Scotias

 
There were Germans everywhere in Authie. A terrific artillery barrage filled the air with earth and shrapnel and bits of wood. Tanks fired as fast as guns could be reloaded, machine guns chattered.

More and more Germans appeared in the smoke and dust. Time and again they seemed only yards away but were hurled back. Then men screamed that the enemy were coming in from the other side of Authie: C company was being surrounded. Capt. Hank Fraser and a few others determined to fight as long as possible. The rest tried to get back to positions that could be held. Some made it, across 50 yards of open ground and 200 yards of wheat field, to a hedge where A company was holding.

Fraser, some other Novas and Sherbrookes and machine gunners of the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa took a huge toll of SS but were finally overwhelmed and killed.

Getting out of Authie, Sgt. Bill Gammon ran into two Germans, shot one and when his Sten gun jammed smashed it into the face of the other German. He ran to the wheat fields and by nightfall got back to battalion lines. Cpl. Douglas Wild, also alone, encountered three Germans. One lunged at him with a bayonet. With his rifle butt, Wild knocked the German aside, then shot the other two. He threw two smoke bombs ahead of him and used the screen to reach the grain. Pte. Freeman Wallace took six hours to get through the wheat to the battalion lines. Cpl. Walter McKillop and his brother Earl, a sergeant, were captured but escaped when machine-gun fire pinned down their captors.

A company, under Major Rhodenizer, held on back at Authie, still expecting B company to get up on the left and artillery to come to the rescue. Six German tanks appeared suddenly on the right and moved toward Buron, killing nine men as it went.. More German infantry moved in around A company and, near sundown, German shelling ceased. From the wheat rose the young soldier with the Schmeisser. "Komm!" Major Rhodenizer and what was left of his company were surrounded. Lt G. A. P. Smith rose, a rifle in his hands. Capt, J. A. Trainor shouted and Smith dropped his weapon just as a German was about to shoot him. More Germans came from the right. Two shot and killed two Novas who had surrendered. Still hidden, Pte. W. H. Gerrior shot these two Germans and three others; then he pulled the bolt from his rifle, threw it away, got up and surrendered without the Germans knowing where the shots had come from.

The SS shot three men as they marched the A company survivors back to Authie. Authie was littered with German bodies. As the battle smoke lifted, revealing the casualties inflicted by C company, German soldiers shot several more prisoners.

A German staff car raced by, horn blowing, and a soldier in the back seat took pot shots at prisoners. Two men staggered, hit in the stomach. The guards grinned, lined the prisoners in two ranks and searched them. One prisoner said something to a friend. As the man turned to answer, an SS guard emptied a submachine gun into his stomach.

German vehicles were speeding both ways, some loaded with wounded who shook their fists at the Canadians. A big truck deliberately swerved into marching prisoners and two men died on the pavement. A guard said, "You bombed Germany. Can you expect mercy?"

 Photo Gallery
Canadian personnel examining German P3Kpf W V 'Panther' tank, Authie, France, 9 July 1944.
Soldiers of the 7 Canadian Infantry Batallion cooking supper in a camouflage hut. 9 July 1944, France.
Pte. Bob Miller and Pte. Randall Hillis of the 7 Canadian Infantry Battalion with their own scarecrow made with German uniform and a copy of MEIN KAMPF written by A. Hitler .
 
Sources: CBC Archives, Veterans Affairs Canada, Regiments.org, Library and Archives Canada

Last updated on Sep 11, 2006 22:00. Page viewed 11714 times.