of the hill were some scattered trees and I was ordered to take the two scouts who operated with myself to investigate. On carrying out this order we observed the LMG being used by easily distinguishable troops--they were French Goums from North Africa.

'On receipt of this information, the order from the OC was to proceed upwards in extended order, with my Section on the left of the slightly higher slope, where there was operating a German heavy MG against the Bren. This duel was about 150 yards from our starting point.

'After about 100 yards, no firing was directed at us, but the Goums ran screaming and shouting down the hill to the right toward the main road. We called them back, but with shaking of fists and much shouting, they continued to flee.

'The OC observed to me that he could be court-martialled for driving off the French. It was pointed out that we may have looked like the enemy to the French with our wearing of American helmets.

'Meanwhile, the German MG had turned his attention to us, but not fully as he was off target. The three riflemen in my Section engaged it and the gun was not fired again. We assumed that the MG was being manoeuvred into position when it was fired on. Within a few minutes it was confirmed that the French had thought we were the enemy because our artillery let us know how good it was by placing shells about 20 feet behind us. So we moved into enemy territory to get out of range. The OC got it stopped [by radio] and we returned to our starting position.’

An Army Film Unit cameraman was filming the shelling from his vantage point in from the small Arab village below and in his Dope Sheet report noted that as the British advanced, the French were simultaneously retreating from their positions on the left high ground due to heavy shelling from the British 25-pounders. For a while this made it impossible for the British Brens to discriminate between friendly and enemy troops. In the ensuing confusion of the British artillery shelling their own side, the 4 Troop Commandos on the left tentatively made their way forward as best they could. An Army cameraman also attempted to film the British attack through the Valley that afternoon day. His 'Dope Sheet' report concludes with a telling line:

‘Further photography was out of the question as we were all pinned down by incessant machine gun and mortar fire.’

The situation on the cliff was similarly fraught.

Tom Tunney

You just got up so far and then he was--you could see where the firing was coming from--and we'd have a pot shot. You couldn't see them. There was one, he was about 20 yards in front of the line. And there was word got round that the people on the top of the hill were French and they weren't sure. And the Commandos were with us that morning. So these two Commandos, one of them got his rifle and his bayonet and put a white flag on, like somebody's vest or something like that and they went up. And they thought they were French and they were talking and you could see them shouting like that you know. Anyway, they realised they were Jerries...’
Captain Davidson and his batman were the Commandos who went up with the white flag. Jack Southworth was one of the Commandos behind him:

Jack Southworth

‘Still no one was sure if any more of our troops were around on this part of the hill. The OC contacted HQ and others nearby and then decided to put up a white cloth and move up 100 ft on the ridge and to ascertain who was there. After a few minutes a fair-haired Parachute Engineer came to the ridge and told us we were his prisoners.’

‘As we were lined up in assault positions, well apart in extended order, his offer was declined. No one from 4 Troop took action towards him and he was informed that we wanted to know who occupied the ridge above: to which he replied: they did. The OC told him to go as we had a white flag to honour. Off he went after a salute. Then shots were fired from the trees, by whom we never knew.

‘As 4 Troop was lined up to move up to the first ridge which was fairly steep, about 100 yards on, we were fired on. Moving with fire and movement in our numbered groups of three and four, myself and the two Tommy gunners in the centre of this Section, Captain Davidson with the other Section which included the two Corporals, we reached the line of where the German and French guns had exchanged fire. Then two men were wounded with fire from the front and side. It appeared to be a sniper. Two men were hit. One died. As we continued to move forward with covering fire, I was hit in the thigh, the bullet coming out through the front.

‘As I went down with force and shock, I realised the shot had came from behind. I knew where it came from. Private Dawson shouted: 'Behind you, Sarge!' As I turned on the ground, the German was running toward the higher ground. Dawson couldn't hit the target with his Tommy gun. I fired twice. Both successful. My leg was burning, but in moving in front of the Section for about 12 yards, the three left flank riflemen reached slightly higher and shouted: 'We see them!' Then seven or eight of the enemy fled from in front of us about 50 yards distant. The sniper was still effective. My Section already had two dead and three of us wounded. The sniper was still operating, but now engaged. The Medical Orderly using one of the phials of morphine carried by senior NCOs put me out of pain. That's all I know of this incident.’

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