Normandy 2017 Day 6 – With the Green Howards

Day 6 – Sunday 4th June

With the Green Howards

After breakfast at a leisurely 8:30 in the morning we headed off to the village of Crépon.  To attend a ceremony dedicated to the Green Howards, one of the Battalions that some of The Men in the Shed were from.

We were that it would be at 10 o’clock. In fact it was to start two hours later than that. So we put the additional time to good use. By returning to the question of the route taken by Elledge, Sheppard, Willen and Gillespie.

We believe that we have identified one key Passage in Elledge’s manuscript as referring to the town of Villers-Bocage. There is a very descriptive passage which matches exactly the lie of the land there.  However we did not have time to work out where they went from this point before the arrival of the various veterans who we wanted to meet!

It was a very nice ceremony and afterwards, a number of the veterans were awarded a local medallion. Then it was round to the Salles de Fettes for some drinks and some very light snacks. There we had the opportunity to speak briefly to Colonel Mantell who is the chairman of the Old Comrades Association for the Green Howards. We also had the opportunity of speaking to some of the veterans. One of whom had actually landed on D-Day and another who had come in on one of the waves of the Airborne reinforcement units.

A missing brewery

From Crépon,  we went to try to find a brewery that Glyn had seen information on. Unfortunately this does not appear to be in existence. Or if it is, the signage is not clear as they would have one believe from their website.

Tilly Book Fair and Albert Figg

We then went to the Tilly book fair, organised each year by Stéphane Jacquet. Whilst there we met veteran Albert Figg who was selling his autobiography – an excellent read. He published it last year in Engish, and this year a version in French had been published.

We had lunch at the fair. Which consisted of some of the local take on rice pudding and a small cake! Food was not always going to plan!

Colin purchased an original copy of the divisional history of the 43rd division at the fair. He asked Albert Figg to sign it as he was a gunner in that division, which he kindly did. Colin then helped with some translation for people who were buying Albert’s book. Hopefully they understood that he had been a gunner. Firing, in support of the fighting on hill 112, from Carpiquet airfield. Colin also tried to explain the fundraising that Albert had done to get the various memorials on the Hill. Including the trees being planted this year.

Tracking down 1st Bn Hampshire Regiment

We then went to north of the village of Hottot les Bagues in order to take some photographs. This was where the 1st Hampshire Battalion were located between the 1st and 12th of July 1944. This was of particular interest as the 11th of July is the date given by some of the men as the date of their capture. At the National Archives we had found an aerial photograph of the time. Upon which was marked the location of the various companies of the Battalion. We took a series of photographs of the locations shown. Obviously, over 70 years later, there is little to see on the ground. However, the lady who owns the farm, & gave us permission to go & take the photos, confirmed  that there had been very hard fighting in the area. Resulting in the destruction of her parent’s house.

The battery in my camera died just after the final photograph. So, we headed off into Bayeux for a well-deserved meal in a traditional French restaurant.

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