The Queens Own Cameron Highlanders of Can.
Canadian Army Overseas.
5 Jan 45.
Dear Mr. Watson:-
I am very sorry but circumstances made it impossible for me to write you before this in connection with the death of your son Jim, Killed in action at Ste. Martin-sur-Orne, Normandy, on 4 Aug 1944. I should have written to you before this but have been in hospital and your letter has been handed me as I was Jim’s Company Commander and with him when he was killed.
I have known Jim since he joined the Battalion and along with all the other officers and men thought very highly of him as a man and a soldier. He fought with me during the heavy going to break through south of Caen in July and was all through the battle of Ste Andre when the Battalion was practically cut off and outfought a Panser S.S. Division without rest and little sleep, for ten days. In order to allow the American Forces to break out of the bridgehead to the west it was necessary for us to draw enemy focus to our front by a series of heavy attacks. After Ste. Andre other formations attempted to drive south through us but were driven back with heavy losses by an enemy strong point in an abandoned mine south of St. Martin-sur-Orne. The Corps Commander ordered a raid on this mine and my Company was chosen to do the job with a party of Engineers who were to blow the shafts through which the enemy had been supplying his force. After the raid my force was to retire as another large attack was to go in through there towards Falaise.
We jumped off at midnight of 3 Aug 44 and fought in the mine buildings and vicinity until 0300 hrs and withdrew in the face of heavy resistances after the engineers had advised their work completes. Lieut. Fred Bawlf was Jim’s Platoon officer and attacked the block of buildings to the left with his platoon. Jim fell, instantly killed, when leading his section to take out a machine gun. Lieut. Bawlf was also killed but the platoon finished the job. Our losses were very heavy but we evacuated all wounded, and later when the advance had passed through this mine, we returned and buried the men who fell there in a temporary Canadian Cemetery near St. Martin and I understand they have now been mover to the large Canadian Cemetery on the coast.
Your son was a fine soldier, Mr. Watson, and you can well be proud of him as we who fought beside him are proud to have known him. For all the hard fighting in Normandy before he fell, he was outstanding in his personal bravery under fire and his sense of duty and responsibility. You, who have been through a war, realize only too well the difficulties and hardships of the infantry and know how some men rise above these things and become truly great. Your son was one of these.
The officers and men of the Battalion join with me in offering our deepest sympathy to you and your family in your great loss.
Arthur C. Kavanagh
O.C. ‘A’ Cay.