At the beginning of 1943 Albert Greatrix was a corporal with 14 platoon. He was a keen sportman and was a member of ‘C’ Company football team. By 1944 he had moved to 13 platoon with the rank of Sergeant and landed with them in Normandy in June 1944. On the 9th August 1944, ‘C’ Company were given the task of clearing the enemy on the road to Le Plessis Grimoult in the area of La Varinière.
They went into the attack with adequate tanks, and with artillery and mortars on call, but with little or no information as to the actual enemy positions. Spandaus, concealed in enfilade positions, and enemy artillery observers took their toll, and after a slogging match lasting several hours the ‘C’ Company had suffered between fifteen and twenty casualties and had to be withdrawn or be completely decimated. It was during this action that Sergteant Greatrix used the P.I.A.T. for clearing the enemy from sunken lanes and foxholes with great success. He was later awarded the Military Medal for his brave actions.
A week later Albert was severely wounded by enemy machine gun fire while carrying out a reconnaissance at a crossing on the River Noireau.
Albert recalls what happened in his own words:
"On the 15th August 1944, the Battalion had received ordered to cross the River Noireau, a small tributary of the Orne which runs in a deep and densely wooded valley, and head for Berjou. On the other side, southern bank, of the river there was high densely wooded ridge.
A/Major Harry Matthews was now commanding ‘C’ Company asked me to go down and see if any soft transport had crossed the river, which I did. I found that the small bridge was blown and nothing had crossed the river and so I started to make my way back up the hill to report my findings. As I walked up the hill I noticed a German with a machine gun (Spandau) on the track by a gate. Having seen me and before I had chance to take cover, he let me have it. I was hit 7 times – 5 bullets to my body and 2 to my right elbow. I fell to the ground but managed to crawl away. As I pulled my self along the ground they did not shoot at me again – to this day I could never work out why.
Sgt. Albert Greatrix, M.M.