Wartime Heritage ASSOCIATION
Gordon Augustus Comeau 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion Walking through the gates of the Ranville War Cemetery one is forced to face the true tragedy of war for here lies some 2,235 Commonwealth men of the Second World War. Among them are the graves of 76 Canadians including nine members of the RCAF, three CANLOAN officers and 57 members of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion. One stone bears the name of 21 years old Private Gordon Augustus Comeau of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion, R.C.I.C. He died on June 10th 1944. Ranville was the first village to be liberated in France when the bridge over the Caen Canal was captured intact in the early hours of 6 June by troops of the 6th Airborne Division. The 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion, was part of the British 6th Airborne Division. Gordon Comeau was a member of “C” Company that led the airborne forces into battle. “C” Company headed off early from their camp in the vicinity of Down Ampney and moved to Harwell Airport. At 22:30 hrs “C” Company lifted off for France heading out a half-hour prior to the rest of the division to secure drop zone “V” and place Eureka beacons to mark the DZ. At between 0020 and 0029 hrs on June 6, 1944 the troopers of C Company, became the first Canadians into battle. They were landed by parachute and glider in cloudy and windy weather. The adverse weather conditions and poor visibility caused wide dispersion of the paratroopers upon landing. Less than fifty of “C” Company were present when they decided to begin the set assigned tasks. On descent by parachute, Gordon encountered enemy fire and was seriously wounded. He was moved to a medical station where he died on June 10th, 1944. The DZ was quickly secured and “C” Company moved towards Varaville. Split into two sections the first was tasked to secure and hold the bridge in Varaville. The second section moved towards the Grand Chateau in Varaville to eliminate the enemy from their headquarters located in the Chateau. Upon reaching the Chateau the Canadians almost immediately came under fire from the Germans defences. The Paratroopers took up a defensive position in the Gatehouse of the Chateau and prepared their attack. At approximately 0300 hrs a German anti-tank gun, hidden in the grounds of the Chateau, fired at the gatehouse. Six of the Canadians were killed. Re-enforcements continued to arrive and by 1030 hrs the Germans surrendered. By 1500 hrs elements of the British 6th Commando Cycle Troop reached Varaville and relieved “C” Company who moved towards their Battalion’s position at the Le Mesnil Crossroads. The 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion had a very successful first 24 hours, achieving their pre-set goals with complete success. Unfortunately this success did not come without a price. Some 116 men of the 541 that jumped were either killed, wounded or taken prisoner, while a great number were still missing. Of the 27 officers and 516 men from the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion who took part in the Battle of Normandy, 24 officers and 343 men gave their lives Many of the division's casualties are buried in Ranville War Cemetery which lies about seven miles from the city of Caen. Photo and Post Card (Gordon Comeau) 1942
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Card sent by Gordon Comeau to his mother after his first jump (Fort Benning - 1942)
Gordon Comeau
A Canadian flag is placed in front of the stone marker of Gordon Comeau at Ranville Cemetery on July 11, 2009 by Glen Gaudet of the Wartime Heritage Association
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Gordon Augustus Comeau 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion