A Scottish Soldier’s Story From D-Day


While clearing out a few things the other day I came across a very interesting scrap of paper. It was an old sheet of A4 lined paper and on it was a scribbled map and some text. It was given to me by Jeff Henderson who served beside my father in the Kings Own Scottish Borderers in 1944. Both landed on Sword beach, Normandy on D-Day.

The map detailed to the best of his knowledge his battalion movements on the first days after the landing. It’s extremely interesting as the villages mentioned still stand today so its very east to retrace the route, It is also interesting in the way it doubles back over the same ground many times as the push for the city of Caen proves more difficult than expected.

On the reverse of the map Jeff then recounted all he could remember of the movements as they prepared and then moved into Caen and then from there to recount their involvements in the massive tank led engagement of operation Goodwood.

It is a fascinating document written from the perspective of a foot soldier without the benefit of the ‘bigger picture’. I shall hand over to the late Jeff Henderson (the most Scottish Herefordian I’ve ever known) to tell his story:

From June 9th we held Cambes Wood until we were taken over by the 59th Staffordshire Div, allowing our Battalion to move from Cambes wood to an area shown on the map as Bieville Beauville, ready for the main assault on Caen, it was while we were in this area on the 7th July that Caen was so heavily bombed. On the 8th of July we moved up behind the KSLI in 185 brigade to Lebisey, where we passed through the KSLI during the hours of darkness and then dug in on the slopes leading to the bombed outskirts. Then daylight came and the order to advance into Caen, a route which took us past the Abbey Aux Dames to the fish market near the quay (where Don Mould and other KOSBS were photographed) and where the real battle started up along the quay to the rue Gilbert and along to the church of St John where 18 Platoon suffered badly. I have retraced the route many times.

ON July 11th the battalion moved out of Caen up the D7 past Mathieu to a village a short distance away called Plumetot, where we had our first rest period since we landed 5 weeks before.

After 4 days rest we marched during Saturday night through the cross roads at Hermanville and along the route we took on the 6th of June, i.e. through Colville Montgomery and St Aubin de Arquanay to Benouville over Pegasus bridge and dug in just outside Ranville. On the Monday morning was the heavy bombing of Sannerville and areas close to Troarn, we moved forward through Escoville to Touffreville and on to Sannerville, the trouble was on our left, the hills and woods of Beauvent (?) where the German guns were situated. The battle for Troarn and other areas around Caen was known as ‘Goodwood’, those who took part were the 3rd Div, 11th Armoured, the Guards Armoured, 7th Armoured. The battle lasted 3 days with the loss of over 650 tanks and 7,000 casualties. After being harassed by mosquitos and German ‘Moaning Minnies’ we moved out on foot again to Bieville Beauville for regrouping and being given our Minden Roses.31st July to 1st August. On 3rd August we moved to the bocage country via Caumont to Vire area. On the 7th I was wounded and so ended my Normandy Travels

– Jeff

About rodger moffet

Rodger is the Director of ScotClans. Expert in all things clan and tartan.

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4 thoughts on “A Scottish Soldier’s Story From D-Day

  1. Richard

    Hi Rodger,

    Many thanks for publishing this. My Grandfather was in 1st Bttn KOSB and this piece – especially the map – has really helped with my research of his movements in Normandy.

    All the best, and thanks again.

    Grandson of Piper David Morrison – 1st KOSB.

  2. Robert Blyth

    Hello Rodger. I was very interested to read this page, as my uncle Robert Blyth (3066196) was also in 1st Bttn KOSB but was one of those who died in the fighting near Troarn on 18-19 July 1944, so sadly I never heard his story. He was buried at Douvres la Delivrande, and I have visited his grave several times while travelling to/from Ouistreham.
    Unfortunately the link to the map that you posted appears to be corrupted. Would it be possible to repost it, please, as I’d be fascinated to see it.
    Many thanks,
    Robert Blyth (nephew)

    • rodger moffet Post author

      Hi Cass – your uncle was one of maybe half a dozen soldiers who’s graves my father looked for when he returned to Normandy in 1994 for the 50th anniversary. He laid a cross on his grave every year until he died and my sister and I continued the tradition until the pandemic stopped us last year. My father spoke of him many time. He told us the lads called him ‘Joe’ as he had a large bushy moustache that made him look like Stalin 🙂 On the eve of the assault on Troarn my father had an awful premonition (thats something considering what they had already been through) It was his good fortune that he was singled out the next morning for the detail to collect all the blankets and other items and help take them back down the line – he said many time that it almost certainly saved his life because he was convinced this was his number up. Ive spoken to many of lads that were involved at Troarn over the years and they described it as a really tough engagement with the town being taken and lost many times. The worst of the fighting was around the town square. I’m not sure if you know what happened to your uncle but a few of the veterans i spoke to witnessed his death. he was an incredibly brave young man.


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