Private EMILE SERVAIS CORTEIL and paradog GLEN (photo added)

Serviceman Headstone thumbnail image Serviceman thumbnail gravemarker Serviceman thumbnail
Rank Private
Forenames EMILE SERVAIS
Surname CORTEIL and paradog GLEN (photo added)
Initials E S
Place of Birth Unknown
Date of Birth Unknown
Date of Death Tuesday, 06 June 1944
Age 19
Nationality British
Residence or Entered Service From WATFORD, HERTFORDSHIRE, UNITED KINGDOM
Service Number 14410713
Force British Army
Service/Corps/Regiment Parachute Regiment, Army Air Corps
Unit / Ship / Battalion / Squadron 9 Parachute Battalion (6th Airborne Division)
Military Honours and Awards
Place of Burial/Commemoration RANVILLE WAR CEMETERY
Roll of honour
Grave/Memorial Location IA. G. 13.
Previous Place(s) of Burial Gonneville-en-Auge
Epitaph HAD YOU KNOWN OUR BOY YOU WOULD HAVE LOVED HIM TOO. "GLEN" HIS PARATROOP DOG WAS KILLED WITH HIM
Family Details SON OF SERVAIS CORTEIL, AND OF JESSIE AMELIA CORTEIL, OF WATFORD, HERTFORDSHIRE.

Additional Information

Fallen Heroes of Normandy Animals at War in Normandy Series.1

 

Private EMILE SERVAIS CORTEIL and his paradog GLEN, in A Company photograph 1944.2

 

 

Private EMILE SERVAIS CORTEIL and his paradog GLEN, an Alsatian shepherd dog, were serving with 9 Parachute Battalion, 6 Airborne Division, tasked with destroying the guns at the German gun emplacement known as the Merville Battery. Like many of the paratroopers who landed in Normandy in the early hours of 6th June 1944, they had been scattered far and wide of their designated drop zone, Drop Zone V.

 

By 0600hrs, Private CORTEIL and GLEN had reached their drop zone and joined a group led by Brigadier James Hill, commanding officer of 3 Parachute Brigade. The group began making their way from the drop zone, near Varaville, towards the Merville Battery and the area where 9 Parachute Battalion should be after their attack on the German battery.

 

As they neared the village of Gonneville-en-Auge the group came under fire...

 

I had with me my brigade defence platoon commander, two parachute sailors who were part of the link with the bombardment ship [His Majesty's Ship Arethusa] and one of our parachute dogs, togther with some thirty-five good chaps.

 

We were making good progress and were encouraged by the tremendous din of the preliminary bombardment which the beach defences were undergoing. We were walking down a lane when I suddenly heard a horrible staccato sound approachingfrom the seaward side of the hedge. I shouted to everyone to fling themselves down and then we were caught in the middle of a pattern of anti-personnel bombs dropped by a large group of aircraft which appeared to be our own Spitfires... The lane had no ditches to speak of and I flung myself on top of a young officer who had been one of my sergeants when I commanded the 1st Parachute Battalion in North Africa. Something seemed to hit me very hard on the backside and, when the dust and foul stench of cordite had almost disappeared and the shattering din had died down, I looked around and saw a leg lying beside me.

 

I then saw the boot was a brown one and therefore it could not be mine. After stumbling to my feet, I found one other man who was able to stand, namely my defence platoon commander, and the lane was littered for many yards with bodies of groaning and badly injured men.

Brigadier James Hill, Commanding Officer 3 Parachute Brigade.

 

The two officers set about injecting the wounded with morphia to ease their suffering. They also removed the morphia phials from the dead and gave them to the wounded to be used later. The two survivors then set off to find 9 Parachute Battalion.

 

Two hours later, they found Captain Harold P. Watts, Royal Army Medical Corps, the medical officer of 9 Parachute Battlion, who promptly gave the brigadier some temporary first aid treatment and told him about their success at the Merville Battery.

 

It was later discovered that the aircraft that strafed them were Royal Air Force Typhoons on sorties to disrupt the enemy behind lines. Unfortunately, the pilot had mistaken the group of British paratroopers for a German patrol, resulting in the 'blue on blue' incident; or what is more commonly known today as 'friendly-fire'.

 

Three months later Brigadier James Hill ordered Major (later Lieutenant Colonel) Crookenden, who had by that time taken over comand of 9 Parachute Battalion after Lieutenant Colonel Terence Otway had been wounded, to send a party out to the lane where he had been wounded in an attempt to locate and bury the bodies of the dead.

 

Major Allen Parry, commanding officer of A Company, went out with the party which included Captain The Reverend John Gwinnett. The soldiers were soon found having been roughly buried in a bomb crater. Among them were Private EMILE SERVAIS CORTEIL and his paradog GLEN.3

 

Having identified nearly all the bodies, they were reinterred and their location passed on to the graves registration and grave concentration units. Eventually their bodies were moved to their final resting place at Ranville War Cemetery. At the request of Major Allen Parry, Private EMILE SERVAIS CORTEIL and his paradog GLEN were buried together. It was Private CORTEIL's mother who wrote the epitaph for his headstone.4

 

 

The temporary grave of Private EMILE SERVAIS CORTEIL and his paradog GLEN,
along with the graves of others killed in the 'friendly-fire' incident.

 

 

References
1.  Fallen Heroes of Normandy Animals at War in Normandy Series and blog page.
2. from Pegasus Bridge & The Merville Battery, p.89. Published by Pen & Sword Books Ltd 1999 - 2004, 3rd edition, by Carl Shilleto.
3. Extract from Merville Battery & The Dives Bridges, pp.89-92. Published by Pen & Sword Books Ltd 1999 - 2011, 4th edition, by Carl Shilleto.
4. Extract from Pegasus Bridge & Horsa Bridge. pp.144-145. Published by Pen & Sword Books Ltd 1999 - 2011, 4th edition, by Carl Shilleto.

 

Acknowledgements and Credits
Source of original data: Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Headstone photograph: Carl Shilleto
Cross marker photograph: from Merville Battery & The Dives Bridges, p.91. Published by Pen & Sword Book Ltd 1999 - 2011, 4th edition, by Carl Shilleto via Merville Battery Museum
Individual photograph: from Merville Battery & The Dives Bridges, p.92. Published by Pen & Sword Book Ltd 1999 - 2011, 4th edition, by Carl Shilleto via Merville Battery Museum
Additional photographs provided by: Carl Shilleto, Neil Barber and Merville Battery Museum.   
Additional information provided by: Carl Shilleto, Neil Barber, Irena Zientek and Merville Battery Museum.   

 

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What other people have said

Australia

Jacqueline Foster

The fog of war.. Thank you Emile for your service. Rest Easy..Thank you Glen...

On Wednesday, June 3, 2015
Switzerland

John Crouch

I will never forget the ultimate price paid by these men & women for our freedom.

On Thursday, June 5, 2014