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Massacre at Graignes

Discussion in 'Massacres and Atrocities of the Second World War' started by Kelly War44, Oct 28, 2006.

  1. Kelly War44

    Kelly War44 New Member

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    After the clear channel flight, the skies had clouded over Normandy. Pilots carrying Hinchliff's unit, the 507th Regiment of the 82nd, had to take evasive action to avoid running into other planes, they landed some twenty miles from their target and found themselves surrounded by (or immersed in) deep marshes. Many paratroopers drowned when they tumbled into the flooded area, and the rest were widely scattered. They had a few 81-mm mortars, five .30-calibre machine guns and their personal weapons and were short on food. But the paratroopers of the 507th PIR found allies in the townspeople of the nearby village of Graignes. Unfortunately, the French were not the only ones to note their arrival, and they were soon surrounded by SS troops. At great risk to themselves, the villagers at Graignes hid the paratroopers, fed them, and help find and retrieve their heavy weapons and ammunition. After digging in around the village, about 180 paratroopers repelled several regimental assaults on their position by panzer grenadiers trying to break through to Carentan. The Para's also blew up a vital bridge to further halt the SS advance.

    On D-Day plus five, a Sunday, Hinchliff and some of his men went to 10 a.m. mass at the local Catholic church. The familiar Latin liturgy was interrupted by a French woman who warned that Germans were coming. They came in regimental strength, 2,000 to 3,000 men trying to break through at Graignes. "We butchered 'em, and they hit us again - same thing," Hinchliff said. More than 1,200 Germans were killed that day. The SS regrouped and returned, this time they were more organised. The battle went on through the night and, with the Para's now taking heavy casualties, the survivors retreated from the village, scattered back into the marshes, and eventually took refuge in the barn of the Girault sisters, who fed and cared for the twenty one survivors. The SS extracted a brutal revenge on the wounded, left behind with the medical officer in the local church. In total more than 30 Para's & villagers died at the hands of the SS. Shot in the back of their heads whilst digging their own graves or lined up and shot. They didn't give up their lives in vain, though, because in halting the SS, they unwittingly assisted in the taking of Carentan by the 101st.
     
  2. Dave War44

    Dave War44 Member

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    Nice post Kelly. That's some powerful story with both heroism & tragedy in spades. Not least of the heroism being from the non-combatant French, and not least of the tragedies being the fanaticism and cruelty of the SS, can I say. Not to mention the superb soldiering !
     
  3. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Great story Kelly, as Dave says "Great soldiering" Taking on between 2 and 3 thousand SS Troops would have been a massive task for any Army.. It is also good to read of the camaraderie that the French gave at this Village, putting their own lives at risk.
     
  4. Kelly War44

    Kelly War44 New Member

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    EDIT : Please note the spelling mistake in my original post. It should be Rigault, not Girault

    [​IMG]

    This is the Memorial to Eveybody who died defending Graignes in the week or so following D-Day

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    Two soldiers with some villagers.

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    The remains of the church, today a memorial to that fateful day.
     
  5. Dave War44

    Dave War44 Member

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    Good pics Kelly.

    Here's some more detail on the "contacts":

    On 8 June came the first encounter between an American patrol and a truck filled with German grenadiers. Several Germans were killed, but, out-gunned, the Americans withdrew to Graignes. Later that day another patrol collided with a German field artillery unit, with the same result. Then Johnson sent a group under Lieutenant Norton to blow a bridge on the road to Carentan. As the men set charges, a 12-year-old girl warned them of the approaching Boches. Waiting until several Germans were on the bridge, the Americans blew the charge, killing several of the enemy.
    On 10 June another patrol encountered a German motorcycle patrol, killing all but one man, who returned to his base with the news of the American presence at Graignes.....


    SOURCE: Major & Mrs Holt's Battlefield Guide (Normandy)
     
  6. Cabel1960

    Cabel1960 recruit

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    Thats the first i ever read about this, and so pleased to learn from it. :happy:
     

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