Name: COMBE James Owen Canadian Army
Rank: Lieutenant II Canadian Corps - 2nd Canadian Division - 4th Infantry Brigade Regiment: Essex Scottish Highlanders - 1st Battalion
Royal Canadian Infantry Corp Residence: Clinton - Ontario Birth: October 24, 1914 - Clinton - Township of Goderich - County of Huron - Ontario Died: August 27, 1944 29 years 10 months
Cemetery: Bretteville-Sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery - Cintheaux - Calvados - France
VIII A 7
Parents: Colonel Hugh and Julia Combe - "The Cedars" - Clinton - Ontario
James was born on October 24, 1914. He had served with the Middlesex and Huron Regiment with the rank of Captain. He was employed as a hosiery manufacturer.
Because of his militia background, James was called out for service and James enlisted on July 20, 1942 at No. 10 Basic Training Centre - Kitchener - Ontario with the rank of Captain. Upon his enlistment he stood 5' 9" tall and weighed 165 pounds. He had a fair complexion with blue eyes and brown hair. His next posting occurred on November 14th and he went to No. 13 Canadian Army Basic Training Centre in Listowel where he trained until December 10th when he was posted to No. 6 Canadian Army Basic Training Centre in Stratford. Five days later he is appointed Second in Command of a Company. Between January 31 - February 13, 1943 Captain Combe is "on command" to A 25 Small Arms Training Centre. He is granted 14 days "special leave" between May 24 - June 6. He then leaves Stratford and on July 15th he is Taken on Strength at A 29 Canadian Infantry Training Centre at Camp Ipperwash. On August 20th he qualified as a Lieutenant of Infantry Rifle. He then head back to Stratford at No. 6 Canadian Army Basic Training Centre on September 20th until October 5th at which time he is 'on Command" to A 29 Canadian Infantry Training Centre at Camp Ipperwash. Between October 7-11 he was granted "special leave" He now heads to the east coast on November 3rd to No. 1 Training Brigade based at Debert - Nova Scotia where he wound continue with his training.
On February 16, 1944 Lieutenant Combe was Struck off Service of the Canadian Army in Canada and he embarks from Halifax and Canada for overseas. The next day he is Taken on Service with the Canadian Army Overseas. One week later he disembarks in the the United Kingdom and proceeds to No. 3 Canadian Reinforcement Unit. Between March 12 - May 12 he was at Canadian Military Headquarters and attends Composite Training School. He was successful and passed this course. On May 15th he goes to No. 2 Canadian Infantry Reinforcement Unit. On June 6th he goes to No.1 Canadian Infantry Reinforcement Unit. He is then Taken on Service on June 15th with the 11th Battalion of the 2nd Canadian Brigade Group. On June 15th he goes to the 13th Battalion of the 2nd Canadian Brigade Group.
In the field
He left the UK on July 24, 1944 and arrived in France on July 25, 1944. The next day he was Taken on Service with the Essex Scottish Regiment.
The goal was the pursuit of the enemy to the Seine and the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division suffered the
most. The Allied plan was to encircle the German forces along the Seine with all speed and then to cut off
any survivors that might have survived the Falaise Pocket.
Late on the night of August 26th, the Essex became heavily engaged with the Germans in Bourgtheroulde and
early on August 27th they passed through Elbouf along the road on the left bank on the Seine River toward Port
du Gravier. At 03:00 as the Essex approached this village in the neighbourhood of Orival some 500 yards
south of the railway – they were fired on by the enemy on the high ground at the forks of the road. “B’
Company was leading and took cover under mortar and small arms fire. “A” & “B” Companies deployed
along the railway tracks and “C” & “D” Companies deployed along the Elbeuf Road. German mortar fire was coming down on them but it was not at all accurate.
The Essex realized that with the situation the way it was - a frontal assault would not bring much progress. The 4th Brigade crossed the 500 - foot Seine River at Elbeuf and on the morning of August 27th they were
to attack the Foret de la Londe, go through the town and seize the high ground overlooking the river north of
Pont du Grovier. They ran into very heavy opposition and German fortifications in locations the Germans
felt were more important. The enemy was holding the high ground along with the area around Foret de la
Londe which was approximately 500 feet in height. At dawn on August 27th there was intermittent German
mortar fire and this caused casualties in “C & D” Companies. Foret de la Londe which was on the left bank was the largest forested area and there was very heavy German shelling coming from Pont du Grovier. Late on the 27th, the Essex again tried to push their way through but had very little success in doing so. It was during the fighting of August 27th when Lieutenant Combe fell on the field of battle.
He was awarded the 1939-45 Star, the France-Germany Star, the War Medal and the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal + Clasp. James is honoured and remembered on both the Clinton and Goderich - Ontario Cenotaphs and on the Memorial Plaque of the Royal Canadian Legion.