Operation Dingson

'Dingson' was a British special forces operation by the French 4th Régiment des Chasseurs Parachutistes (4th Special Air Service) near Lilleran in the Vannes region of German-occupied Brittany to establish a base behind the German lines (6/18 June 1944).

The 160 men of the 'Dingson' party, who had available to them four Jeep light vehicles, were commanded by Colonel Pierre-Louis Bourgoin and parachuted into German-occupied north-western France near Vannes in the southern part of Brittany on the night of 5/6 June together with Capitaine Pierre Marienne’s sub-group of 17 men, then advanced to St Marcel between 8 and 18 June.

At this time there were about 100,000 German troops, and artillery, preparing to move against the Allied 'Overlord' lodgement in Normandy.

Immediately after in Brittany, the Free French SAS who jumped in near Plumelec went into action against local German forces, who were in fact largely of Ukrainian and Georgian origins. One hour later, the first victim of the liberation of his country, Corporal Émile Bouétard was killed near Plumelec.

The Free French SAS established a base at St Marcel and began to arm and equip members of local resistance, operating with up to 3,000 of these fighters. However, their base was heavily attacked by a German paratroop division on 18 June and the Allied force was compelled to disperse.

A few weeks later, on 12 July, Marienne and 17 of his men (six SAS troopers, eight resistance fighters and three farmers) were summarily executed after being captured in Kerihuel, Plumelec.

The 'Dingson' party was later supplemented by men who had just completed 'Cooney', and operated alongside the 'Samwest' and 'Lost' parties.

On 5 August, 10 Waco CG-4 gliders towed by aircraft of the RAF’s Nos 298 and 644 Squadrons transported the French SAS men and armed Jeeps to Brittany near Vannes for 'Dingson 35A'. Each glider carried three SAS troopers and one Jeep armed with a pair of Vickers K machine guns plus explosives, Sten sub-machine guns and one PIAT anti-tank projector. The gliders were escorted by 32 Supermarine Spitfire fighters for part of the trip. One glider was lost with the death of its British pilot.

The SAS teams remained behind the German lines in occupied territory until they were overrun by Allied forces. The glider pilots were the responsibility of the local resistance and then linked with the advancing US forces at Auray.