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Operation Dingson

Page Created
June 29th, 2023
Last Updated
Special Forces
Special Air Service
June 6th, 1944 –
Operation Dingson
  • Coordinate the actions of the Breton resistance.
  • Disruption of the arrival of German reinforcements to Normandy after D-Day.
Operational Area

Morbihan area, Bretagne, France.

Unit Force
  • 18 men of 4th Special Air Service
Opposing Forces

The mission of the initial phase of Operation Dingson involved establishing a secret support base near Vannes and preparing drop zones and landing zones for further landings of the regiment. From there they were to contact local resistance groups and integrate them into guerrilla operations. Once operational the battalion’s objective is to disrupt German reinforcements by carrying out actions such as destroying communication lines, setting up ambushes, and conducting sabotage operations targeting convoys moving through Brittany towards Normandy after D-Day.

At 23:30 of June 5th, 1944, two sticks of nine men of 4th Special Air Service jump near the forest of Duault in Côtes-d’Armoras part of the first phase of Operation Dingson. Stick 1, Pierre 1 consisted of Lieutenant Pierre Marienne, Emile Bouétard, Pierre Etrich, F. Jourdan, François Krysik, Pierre Pams, Loïc Raufast, Maurice Sauvé, Jean Content, and Captain Hue Hunter. Stick 2, Pierre 2 contained Lieutenant Henri Déplante, Adjudant Auguste Chilo, Jean Paulin, Jacques Bailly, Alexandre Charbonnier, Antoine Treis, and Henri Filippi.

The teams led by Lieutenants Marienne and Déplante, drop near Plumelec but encounter German auxiliary troops consisting of Georgians and Ukrainians serving in the Vlassov Army. Aroun 00:40, Corporal Emile Bouétard is shot and fatally wounded. He may have been one of the first Allied soldiers from Operation Overlord to die on June 6th, 1944. Marienne’s unit also lost all three of their radios during the drop, and they were captured. Nevertheless, 14 of the 18 paratroopers managed to reach the Saint-Marcel maquis, located about 15 kilometers away, with the aid of local Resistance fighters.

The resistance is well organised, and until June 18th, 1944, a total of 160 soldiers from the 4th French Special Air Service are parachuted into the Dingson base near Saint-Marcel. Concurrently, a substantial cache of equipment was air-dropped almost nightly onto the “Whale” drop zone (DZ), situated at the Nouette farm in Sérent. This included, just before a German offensive, four jeeps and several machine guns—though the machine guns were damaged upon landing, reducing the squadron’s firepower. Survivors from the Samwest operation, as well as a few other scattered units seeking rearmament, had by then converged at the Dingson base.

However, on July 12th, 1944, less than a month after the June 18th, 1944, attack, German soldiers raid the command post of the Dingson cell led by Lieutenant Marienne at Kerihuel near Plumelec. the German forces launched an assault on the maquis. The French side suffered around thirty fatalities, with German soldiers ruthlessly executing wounded Resistance members and paratroopers. Post-battle, German troops, with the aid of French collaborators and using a recovered SAS uniform, continued to pursue the remaining SAS soldiers and maquisards. Captain Marienne and seventeen men present at the base (six special air service troopers, eight resistance fighters, and three farmers) are executed at dawn.