[page last updated 09 January 2012]
The Inquiry :
Alleged attrocity against crews of transport panes at Château of Grangues, Dives-Sur-Mer, France in June 1944.
Names of civilian witnesses have been abbreviated or redacted.
24 Aug 1944- The British Army opens a case file for this incident following information received from Witness no.1
It takes over 4 months before the inquiry proceeds further. The war in europe was declared over 8th May 1945, so these events are still taking place in war time.
13 Jan 1945- Subject: Atrocities
In the early hours of 6 Jun 1944 two Stirlings and 4 Horsa Gliders fell in the vicinity of the Château of Grangues, a German defended locality.
The registration Numbers of the Stirlings were:- EF116 and EF295 [should be EJ116]
of the gliders LH 467. LH494 and ?J475
[in an almost indentical document these are amended to read LM467. LM 494 and LM 475]
The fourth glider had no aircraft registration number, but its makers' number is B&P728
About 50 of the crews were killed on impact, while 38 were wounded and taken prisoner. Another eight were captured and later shot and buried in the Château grounds.
An informant states:-
"The Germans captured 38 wounded, and they kept them under the trees in the park. They were evacuated to the German Hospital at Pont-l'Évêque.
As I am an official of the Croix Rouge, after I had seen these wounded, I asked to see the eight prisoners. The German Officer said that one had offered resistance, and had been shot, and the others, on being searched, had concealed arms on their persons. They were shot and buried in the large grave in the Park.
The German Officer refused to give me their names and said he would inform the Croix Rouge himself direct.
I doubt this story as the German unit had seen service in Russia and would have searched the English at the first opportunity"
The eight victims are buried in one large grave in the Château grounds at map reference255756.
I have issued instructions ensuring that this grave shall not be disturbed until receipt of further instructions from this office.
16 Jan 1945- Herewith is a copy of a letter dated 13 Jan 1945 received from Graves R&E , Headquarters 21 Army Group, relating to an alleged atrocity against survivors of Allied transport planes and gliders which fell in the vicinity of the Château of Grangues, a German defended locality on D-day.
It is requested that investigation be made in this case, and a full report and proforma in accordance with this Headquarters letter dated 22 Dec 1944 be submitted as soon as possible.
31 Jan 1945- On 28th January 1945, in company with Lieutenant L Paoli, French Liason Officer, I made enquiries in connection with the information contained in the letter dated 13 Jan 1945.
I interviewed the informant, RHN of Dives-Sur-Mer and other witnesses and the available evidence, summarised below, though mostly circumstantial, suggests that the allegation is well founded.
Witness CRN: Did not witness the shooting but was informed by the Officer in charge of German Unit concerned that he had shot a British Officer prisoner, and had found it necessary to have the remaining prisoners shot also, alleging that they had grenades concealed about them.
CRN did not see the British Prisoners either dead or alive, but was shown the grave where the had been buried.
Witness MRB saw eight British soldiers under guard sitting in the grounds of the Château near the lodge in which Witness MHM lived.
Witness MHM saw the group of prisoners and later heard shots but cannot testify who fired them or at whom they were directed.
The evidence as to the identity of the German Unit consists of the Field Post Number namely 42171.
The identity of the victims is at present unknown but it is possible that it could be established later.
The eight victims are believed to be buried together and are separate from those who died as a result of the glider and plane crashes.
Signed Lieutenant E.F. Burgess of 247 Provost Company.
15 Feb 1945- It is requested that the evidence called for may now be forwarded..
22 February 1945 - Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force [SHAEF]
Subject: Services of Pathologist RAMC Investigation of War Crimes.
1. Reference is made to Major General Phillips' letter of 25 January 1945, conveying agreement in principle to the supply of Officer Pathologists as required and available.
2. It is now requested that the autopsies be conducted to estabish identity and cause of death on the bodies of eight British soldiers believed to have been airborne troops and murdered by the Germans some time after 6 June 1944.
3. The eight victims are buried in one large grave in the grounds of the Château of Grangues at map reference 255756 -France 1:50,000 TROARN sheet 7f/2. The location of the grave is known to the Comte of Château de Grangues, the gardener MRB and MHM, all living at above map reference, which is near Dives-Sur-Mer, France.
4. Attached are eight sets of our pro-forma SCI-2 which the pathologist will complete in detail, one for each body, and which he will enter as sworn evidence at a convenient hearing of the Standing Court of Inquiry. Also attached is a list of suggested stores which the pathologist should take with him.
5. Request this headquarters be advised: (a) of the name, unit and location of the pathologist detailed for the above exhumations and autopsies. (b) the approximate date available. (c) whether it is desired that one of this headquarters Special Investigations Officers accompany the pathologist. (d) whether transport, interpreters or other assistance is required from this headquarters.
6. It is not considered essential for the pathologist to report to this headquarters for further briefing before conducting the autopsies (unless he so desires), but he will report his findings in person, before returning to his proper station. This letter may be used as authority for attachment to Supreme Headquarters, AEF (MAIN) for the period necessary to carry out his mission.
3 March 1945 - Letter: Reference your communication dated 26 Feb 1945
The particulars requested with reference to the eight autopsies near Dives-Sur-Mer are as follows(1) Captain R. Rankin 106 (British) General Hospital Bayeux
(2) Date is being arranged by SHAEF with Officer in Command 106 (British) General Hospital
(3) Special Investigating Officer and Interpreter will be required
(4) SHAEF are requested to arrange (a) transport for the Pathologist (b)exhumation of the bodies (c) suitable accomodation for the autopsies
7 March 1945 - Letter: Reference SHAEF letter dated 22 Feb 1945
1.(a) Captain R Rankin of 106 (British) General Hospital Bayeux
(b) Date is being arranged by SHAEF with Officer in Command 106 (British) General Hospital
(c) Special Investigating Officer and Interpreter will be required
(d) SHAEF requested to arrange transport and suitable accomodation for the autopsies
2. ADCRE 21 Army Group is prepared to provide exhumation party. It is requested that ADCRE be notified of date of autopsies in advance.
9 March 1945 - TELEX: "Autopsies referred to in your (telex) of 7 March being conducted today by Captain Rankin as agreed to by Colonel Fairbrother and Colonel Flood"
10 Mar 1945- Inquiry Court sits at the the Château de Grangues. Four witnesses are Interviewed and the Court Panel tours the scenes of the case.
17 Mar 1945- Reference to your letter dated 13 Jan 1945 concerning alleged shotting of 8 military personnel in the vicinity of the Château of Grangues
1. This branch has been informed by SHAEF on 9 March 1945 that autopsies were being carried out on 9 March 1945,
2. Would you therefore contact SHAEF Court of Inquiry Lieutenant Colonel Genn or investigating Officer Lieutenant Barre, by telephoning Deauville with regard to disposition of the bodies.
26 Mar 1945- For the attention of Lieutenant Colonel Genn or Lieutenant Barre
Ref: SHAEF letter dated 09 Mar 1945; Would you kindly inform me if I might have the bodies concentrated into a permanent British cemetery? Signed Lieutenant A.O. Stott A.D.G.R.E.
31 Mar 1945- To Rear Headquarters 21 Army Group 'A' Lieutenant A.O. Stott
With reference to your letter of 26 Mar 1945, advise that permission is hereby granted to concentrate the bodies concerned into a permanent British Cemetery.
Signed Lieutenant Colonel John P. Page, Special Inquiries Branch SHAEF.
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