The Granville Raid 8/9th of March 1945
After receiving first hand intelligence from 5 German escapees from a large POW camp in Granville, the Commander of the Channel Island German forces started planing a raid that would boost troop morale and bring back supplies for his troops.
The final mission plan was to destroy the port, secure supplies and return to Jersey with as much as possible. The German forces included six minesweepers, the masts of which had been removed to present a smaller target to Allied radar, three artillery carriers, two converted US landing-craft, three motor torpedo boats and a number of smaller craft.
The Germans targeted three areas for simultaneous attack
The Signal Station
The Hotels "Normandy & des Baines"
While on patrol outside the harbour, an American submarine chaser, PC-564, was alerted to fast approaching targets and prepared to defend Granville. It engaged with the enemy, but after the first shot from her 3 inch gun it jammed. Overwhelmed by the large German flotilla, PC-564 was seriously damaged, with her pilot house blown off and many crew killed or injured. The order was given to abandon ship and several crew did so, The captain, then intentionally grounded the vessel after evading the Germans. She was grounded off Cancale, the captain then sends a crew member ashore to find help.
The Port was blacked out and 156th Infantry Regiment 3rd Battalion was ordered to "stand to" This too turned to an order to move on Granville. The Granville stockade, had over 1,400 German POW's, it was ordered not to send anymore to the port, but this was to late in stopping 79 that had already departed for their work shift at the port. The Ports defence plan was then put into action.
"One cannot fight 88's, 50cal and 20 or 30mm with carbines" (Major Brown)
A German minesweeper entered the harbour and opened a raking fire on the docks and over the town. The main fire was directed against the barracks at Le Roc located on the top of the hill overlooking the port. At the same time a small raiding party attacks the hotels, on arrival they were guided by a French woman who was pointing out the billeting of the US officers. The last raiding party attack the signal station. The towns power is deliberately cut as well as some of the communication lines, this is believe to have been done by a local collaborator working with the Germans.
Small battles raged at the hotels and at the port. The allied forces were outgunned and unable to drive back the raiders with their small arms. It also worth noting that prior to the reopening of the port by the allies, the static German defences had been deactivated, this had been noticed by the escapees in December 1944 and formed a key part of the German intelligence.
The raiding parties went aboard all the docked ships and placed demolition charges in the boilers and set fire to the SS Kyle Castle. Other landing parties put demolition charges in the port cranes used for the discharging of coal, they also set up booby traps and mines in the port and town.
All but one of the coal vessels were now to low in the water to be moved, as the tide was on the way out. This tidal movement also caught out the crew of the German Minesweeper that came in as a gun platform. The Minesweeper was grounded on the harbour bed and had to be scuttled.
The Germans used a tug boat, which they brought with them, to remove SS Eskwood. The Eskwood had half a compartment of coal so could still be moved. They also took along 67 of the 79 POW's that were moved to the port area to work that night. The 12 other POW's ran from the raiding party and surrendered to the Allied forces as soon as the action was over.
The raiding party regrouped and with multiple Allied Prisoners of War and returned to Jersey.
Above is just a summary and our research found below is of the accounts from many different Allied Military outfits and people who were there. We know the German plan and actions are well recorded, so we thought it was really important to tell the story of the brave Allied Personnel and French Civilians involved in this action. This is a live research page so we will add updates as we find them.
Detailed Accounts from the Allied Forces
- Port Director Granville
- J V Alexander
- Harbour Entry Control Post
- USS PC-564
- 156th Infantry Regiment US Army
- Headquarters Sub-Port T-411
- 2528th Ordnance M.A.M. Company
- Testimony Records
Allied map of Granville
HECP Tracking of the raid
Lest we forget the brave people who lost their lives during this raid.
U.S. Army Personnel
Major Ben Ritter, US Army Medical Corp
U.S Naval Personnel
Lt T M Page
Lt R A Miller
R G Antwall
W T Bagwell
J V Benesevich
E J Lightfoot
R J Moore
J F Newman
D G Riley
C L Rounseville
R M Rowland
R J Butts
British Royal Naval Personnel
Lt Frederick Roger Lightoller
Master Wright SS Eskwood
Captain Fraser SS Kyle Castle
George Bell SS Kyle Castle
Charles Olson SS Kyle Castle
Gunner Gollen SS Kyle Castle
Gordon Wills SS Nephrite
Richard Lees SS Nephrite