Normandy 2017 Day 8 – Chasing Ray Elledge and other Americans

Day 8 – Tuesday 6th June

A late start!

We had a late start today partly as we’d decided on a leisurely lie-in but more to do with the previous night’s socialising!

Chasing Ray Elledge and other Americans (again!)

Our plan for the day was to use the narrative in Ray Elledge’s manuscript to try to finally confirm, on the ground, the locations of the farm where they were able to get a carriage with help of some French people which we believed to be just outside of Villers Bocage and then also the location of the building which they were taken to having been re-captured the night before they ended up in the Shed; this being the building where John Harder joined the other four Americans (Elledge, Sheppard, Willen & Gillespie)

Having checked contemporary aerial photographs & re-read the narrative, we realised that one of the locations that we had found last year didn’t exist in 1944 (at least, it doesn’t appear on a 1947 aerial photograph, so we could count that out). The second place, just outside of Villers Bocage to the North, didn’t quite match. However, in the background there was an “itch”, as near to that latter place (on the opposite side of the road, in fact), was another property that we’d discounted as it was hidden behind a screen of trees.

A successful find

So, on arrival, today, we realised that to get into the property, we had to go through a formal gateway (described by Elledge) and then up a driveway where at the end, there was an imposing house on the right & storage barns on the left. This was exactly as described in Ray Elledge’s manuscript…

Whilst we were now reasonably confident with the location of the farm where the carriage was obtained from, we will be hopefully able to confirm this as the person who we found at the farm  and discussed our research with said that people within his family were also researching their history and the history of the house; However, he could confirm that Germans had been billeted there during the war

The start of the hunt for the farm where they were joined by John Harder

The next location that we looked for was the large storage barn where the 4 Americans were held having been recaptured & where John Harder had joined them. Again, using aerial photos, maps & an estimation of the distances that could be travelled, on foot, during a day, we’d narrowed down an area south of Aunay sur Odon. However, visiting the first of our “targets”, we were less certain that they’re the correct place as there were some “mis-matches” to the manuscript.

Off to St Charles de Percy

So, given the time, we decided to check again the following day as we couldn’t spend more time looking, now, as we needed to be at the service at St Charles de Percy as is our tradition on the 6th of June each year

Following the completion of the service we attended the vin d’honeur in St Charles, itself, and the other small ceremony that is held there at the Guard’s Memorial.

Following this, we then went off for a meal in Beny Bocage before returning back to Tony and Jill’s where we joined them for a glass of cider and watching some classic TV programmes on D Day.

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