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David Priest was born in Puslinch Township on the Gore Road, where Hoover Park is today, on March 6, 1925. David was the 3rd youngest of 9 children and attended Crief school.
In the spring of 1944, David enlisted, joining Highland Light Infantry (H.L.I.) stationed in Galt, Ontario. He was Private David Lorne Priest, A108935. After basic training, he was sent overseas a short time later to join the First Battalion of the Highland Light Infantry of' Canada in Gourock, Scotland for further intense training.
In England, they were primarily a defence force until after the air war was won over Britain and then they were trained as an invasionary force. Battle training took place on the Isle of Wight, using live ammunition with an expected casualty rate of 10%.
As assault Phase Commander for Overlord, (code name for invasionary force) General Montgomery assigned Juno beach to the 3rd Canadian. The 9th Infantry Battalion landed at St. Aubin as reserves after the 7th and 8th Canadian Infantry battalion had taken the beach. They then headed inland to the south. The objective was the Carpiquet Airfield just three miles to the west of the city of Caen, the communications centre. It was an eleven mile dash on bicycles, supporting vehicles and weapons carriers.
Leading the 9th Highlanders on D.Day plus one, the North Nova Scotia Highlanders pushed through Buron but were met head on by the 21st Panzer Division and forced to dig in on the outskirts of Buron. Their ranks were devastated and prisoners shot by the Germans. This standoff remained for a month.
The 21st Panzer Division was comprised of Hitler Youth full of Nazi ideology and seasoned officers, many of whom had fought on the Russian front. 65% of personnel were 18 years of age, and 3% over 25.
For this month, raids were carried out, with shelling and mortar fire being returned daily. All this time, German forces were being consolidated in the area. During this period, many men were killed or wounded but they kept the Germans off guard and from making a counter attack.
Operation Charnwood was designed by Montgomery to break out of the area. The H.L.I. job was to take Buron.
At 5 a.m. on July 8, 1944, the overhead aircraft bombardment began and supporting artillery fire. By 7:30 a.m. the two assaulting companies crossed the start line. At the anti‑tank ditches fierce opposition was encountered with hand-to-hand combat. The youthful Germans would not give up and suffered many casualties. It was a most horrendous and bloody battle.
Private David Priest was killed on this day. There were 262 Canadian casualties with 62 dead. Of the 21,000 strong German SS Panzer Grenadier Division, only 25% remained. They had crossed an open field in daylight to take a village of equal number of well dug in and succeeded.
David is buried in Beny Sur Mer Canadian War Cemetery in France. David is an uncle of Nancy Kitchen.
Captain J. Allan Snowie, Bloody Buron, 1984, Boston Mills Press
Membership in the society is open to anyone interested in the history of Puslinch Township giving you access to the archives, assistance with your research from committed volunteers, a newsletter and occasional events of historic interest.
29 Brock Road South
Puslinch Historical Society
c/o Puslinch Library
29 Brock Road South
Puslinch, ON N0B 2J0