Major David A. Breese Biography-2
Lt. David A. Breese: D-Day Destruction of Normandy Bridges
Sword Beach was the code name given to one of the five main British landing areas along the Normandy coast during the June 6, 1944 D-Day invasion. In order to protect the east flank of the invasion from German troops, it was necessary to destroy or capture a series of bridges near the key city of Caen.
Shortly after midnight on D-Day morning, elements of the 6th Airborne Division, in a daring glider-borne assault, dropped paratroopers 10 miles deep into Normandy. The 3rd Parachute Squadron of the Royal Engineers – including Lt. David Breese who commanded No. 1 Troop -- were dropped east of River Orne at around midnight. The paratroopers landed 7 miles away from their designated Drop Zone, and had to search in the darkness for their equipment and detonating supplies.
Gathering near Troarn, Major Tim Roseveare embarked with Lt. David Breese and 7 sappers in a jeep and an explosive-packed trailer towards the bridge over the Dives River. Their harrowing tale was described by the website
“The plan was to demolish road and rail bridges in the area to slow or halt the German advance towards the beaches, stopping them from attacking the British forces as they landed later that morning. The 8th Battalion, 3rd Parachute Brigade drop zone was supposed to be 3 miles to the south of Ranville – but they landed 7 miles away. A small group started out on foot towards the objective when they heard the unmistakable sound of a Jeep approaching. It was a Royal Army Medical Corps Jeep & trailer.
The Medical Corpsmen were quickly persuaded to surrender the Jeep (!!!!). Nine paratroopers loaded the Jeep and trailer with as many explosives as they could, climbed in, and headed toward the bridges at Troarn. As they approached the town, the Germans were alerted and began shooting. The sappers, however, reached the bridge over the Dives River, and immediately placed their demolition charges. Before the Germans arrived, they blew up the bridge and made their escape on foot….”