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Lieutenant Colonel Alastair Stevenson Pearson

6th Airborne Division - 3rd Parachute Brigade - 8th Parachute Battalion - Headquarters

Sword Beach

 

Lieutenant-Colonel Pearson dropped at 0050 hrs on D-Day, 6th June 1944. He was immediately wounded by rifle fire in the left hand. Disregarding his wound he organised his depleted Battalion, some 180 strong, into two company groups and successfully engaged the enemy at BURES and TROARN enabling the bridge blowing parties to carry out their tasks with complete success. On the evening of D Day he was forced to undergo an operation for the removal of the bullet from his hand but immediately resumed command of the Battalion on its conclusion. 

On the night of D plus 1, he personally led a patrol of 40 men some 4 miles behind the enemy lines to evacuate wounded reported at the village of BASSENVILLE. This necessitated the double crossing of the River DIVES by dinghy. The patrol, as a result of his skilful leadership, was entirely successful and eight wounded men were rescued. On D plus 2 he personally supervised the operation of a strong fighting patrol which inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy in TROARN. On the night of D plus 6 he personally led a patrol of some 70 men to the village of ROUCHEVILLE and engaged the enemy position to the North of the village while his RE detachment successfully cratered the only remaining road for lateral communication left to the enemy in the district. On D plus 9 the enemy attacked the LE MESNIL position in strength. Lieutenant-Colonel Pearson conducted the battle personally through the whole attack and was tireless in his visits to the forward companies. When the enemy, supported by self-propelled guns, started to penetrate between the forward positions, he moved forward with the counter attack force handling his own men and 17 pounder self-propelled gun with such success that the enemy infantry and self-propelled guns were forced to withdraw in some disorder. Throughout the day he moved amongst his troops under artillery, heavy mortar and machine-gun fire and his conduct was an inspiration to the whole Battalion. By his brilliant handling of the Battalion during the first week of the operation he was able to hold off a numerically superior enemy from the vital high ground at the South end of the BOIS DE BAVENT.

(Source: Distingushed Service Order)