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Normandy 2018 Day 4 – Tilly book fair, Hottot and photo tour

Day 4 – Sunday 3rd June

Tilly sur Seulles Salon du Livre

We tried to be up early for breakfast as we were aiming to be at the “Tilly Book Fair” run at the museum by our friend Stéphane Jacquet from the start; unfortunately, Glyn’s alarm clock was still set to UK time so whilst he thought that he had “a good half an hour” before needing to be at breakfast, I’d already finished & loaded my stuff in the car. Having said that, we actually set off not much later than planned.

Even though it was early, it was already very hot & set to get even hotter – fortunately, my car has air conditioning! Though after a while, it still seemed to be warm inside the car & it was only when we stopped at the services just outside of Caen & got outside that we realised just how hard it was working!

We had a quick check with Tom regarding where to meet as the book fair can be very busy & we set off again.

Through David Mabbutt, I’d been introduced to Ros Westwood – the widow of David Westwood, owner of the Military Library Research Service – who was needing to pass on what was left of her husband’s book collection. I’d been over to collect a large number of these that I was then selling to help raise funds to use with the Manchester Military History Society which I’m treasurer of. I’d selected a number of these which, with the agreement of Stéphane, were being sold on the Museum’s stand with them receiving some of the proceeds.

Having dropped these off, we met up with Tom & then had an enjoyable chat in the sunshine with him & M Jean Menard and his wife, Jeanette. Jean was founder of the 11th Armoured Division Museum at St Martin des Besaces. We had first been introduced to M Menard by David Mabbutt when he was curator of the museum which is now enjoying a new lease of life (having had some “ups and downs” since David left) under the curatorship of Mark Kentell.

1 Glyn, Stephane, M & Mme Menard, Tom

2 Colin, Stephane, M & Mme Menard, Tom

Whilst having our chat, where we were joined by Stéphane who helped with my translations!

At the museum, Tom was able to purchase one of the books that Stéphane has written focusing on Operation BLUECOAT, volume two of which includes a photograph of his father.

Before we got too settled, we decided that it was time to move on (and out of the heat & into the air-conditioned car!) to take advantage of the weather & get some of our photographs taken.

Hottot les Bagues CWGC Cenetery

First stop was the Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery at Hottot les Bagues on behalf of a friend of ours: Peter Muir Findlay. Muir was the main gunner in SKYE tank of 8 Troop, 3rd Battalion Scots Guards who fought through the Normandy campaign and beyond. Their first day in action was at the start of Operation BLUECOAT where, on reaching their objective (Hill 226), they were attacked by a unit of German JagdPanther self-propelled guns. Most of the Scots Guards’ tanks were destroyed & 18 men killed or missing (believed killed), two more were reported missing & 19 were wounded. All of the Guardsmen who lost their lives in this action are buried together in the Hottot-Les-Bagues War Cemetery.

Unfortunately, due to ill health, Muir was unable to travel to Normandy to pay his respects, this year, so we were pleased to be able to do this & lay two “Poppy crosses” for him

Guardsman JW Harvey, 3rd Battalion Scots Guards

L/Sgt JM Louden, 3rd Battalion Scots Guards

Hottot les Bagues: “The Lone House” and a surprise

We then turned our attention to tracking down some of the units that had been involved in the fighting for Hottot – especially 1st Hampshire & 2nd Devonshire Regiments which were the units that a number of “our” chaps fought with (Bird, Brunt, Blunt, Chapman & Lawrence).

Based upon the research that I’d done before the trip, looking through the battalion war diaries which we’d photographed last year & marking up locations on our maps, the first area we needed to look for was just to the north of Hottot where Operation Maori II (the objective of which was to capture the village of Hottot) was fought over. The chaps who were captured on 11th & 12th July were lost in the fighting in this area.

Last year, Glyn & I had taken some photos near the farm of La Bruyère as we’d seen an aerial photograph with the Hampshire’s positions marked on them, but we’d not had the opportunity at that point to read the war diary in detail.

So, this year, one of the places that we were looking for at the eastern end of the village was a house known as “The Lone House” in the Devon’s war diary. We worked out a possible “candidate” for this place & so turned down a track just before the village

As we reached the end of the lane & were turning the car round, a young chap appeared. I confirmed with him where we were & asked if we could take a couple of photographs.

Whilst sorting ourselves out, his mother, father & younger brother appeared – the family Cosnefroy.

This was the start of one of those “surprise” moments…

First of all, the younger son had a t-shirt – of which he was rightly proud – covered with Normandy Veteran pin badges. Then they showed us a notebook that they had started with the signatures of the various veterans that they had met – both ones that had visited them & also who they had chatted to across Normandy… including our old friend Albert Figg who they’d met the previous year on Hill 112!!

M & Mme Cosnefroy then showed us around their property, pointing out the marks made by bullet holes in the walls of the building.

They also showed us some rusty wire cutters that they’d found in their grounds as well as a rifle bullet & the tail fin from a British 3″ mortar shell!

And then, following a quick return visit to their house, they brought out a small box & when they opened it, there was a large piece of the original inside wall of the barn that was attached to the house…

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a colour photo, but Mme Cosnefroy gave me a black & white photograph. It obviously wasn’t just “our” chaps that theft their names everywhere!

As we were leaving, Mme Cosnefroy gave Tom a bottle of very cold water as we were very hot & then she & M Cosnefroy kindly gave me the bullet & mortar tail for my collection. These are both in the cabinet at our wargaming & military history building…

231 Brigade Memorial

We then left & headed into Hottot.

But first, at the end of the lane to the “Lone House”, we stopped for a quick photo of the furthest advanced positions that 2nd Devonshire regiment reached… was this where some of “our chaps” were captured?

In the village of Hottot les Bagues, opposite the Marie, is a memorial to the units of 231 Brigade of 50th Tyne Tees Division who fought across this ground

2nd Hampshire Regiment area

We then moved round to the area where we’d been last year which was where the 2nd Hampshire Regiment had fought but with new information following our reading of the War Diary…

1: 1st Hampshire 1st “phase line”

2: Looking across the fields, the 2nd Devons would have come out of the woods on the right, across the fields

3: One of the routes that the 1st Hampshire Regiment’s tank support followed

4: Here you can see some damage to the perimeter wall of Le Cordillon caused, I believe by “Petard” mortars from 79th Armoured Division Churchill tanks in support of 1st Hampshires

The map below shows the location of each of the above photos

By this time, although there were still plenty of places that we wanted to visit to take photos, the heat was incredible – even getting out of the car briefly to take the photos was a struggle, so we decided to head back to Tilly & see how the book fair had gone.

With sales at the book fair & elsewhere later in the week, we raised enough to be able to donate €45 to each of the museums/associations that I’m involved with – the museums at Tilly sur Seulles & St Martin des Besaces & the Hill 112 Association

Back at Tilly, we had a final beer with Tom & then left him to head off in his campervan & we headed to Bayeux for something to eat.

An interesting meal

Being a Sunday evening, Bayeux, even in the height of the tourist season, was quite empty. The restaurant that we’d been to before seemed to have increased its prices dramatically, so we hunted around & found a small restaurant tucked away on one of the streets leading towards the cathedral the Creperie L’Insolite which gave us the opportunity to try some traditional French quisine… ‘though my plate seemed fuller than Glyn’s!

Whilst we were eating, a family of two adults & a teenager (it turned out to be grandparents & grandson) sat next to us & when the waitress asked them what they wanted, the grandfather leaned over, pointed to Glyn’s meal & said “I’ll have that!”.

They’d been on a battlefield tour, but hadn’t seen what they’d hoped & so asked us for advice as to some of the places that they should see whilst in the area which we were able to help them with.

Finally, Glyn & I decided to treat ourselves to pudding!!!

Mine

Glyn’s

Normandy 2018 Day 3 – Security checks, fog, missed breweries, tardis and pizza

Day 3 – Saturday 2nd June

Off on the Chunnel

As usual, we were crossing via the “Chunnel” (or Channel Tunnel to give it it’s proper name) as it’s a quick way of getting over to mainland Europe.

Possibly because we’d picked an early crossing (as our B&B didn’t provide breakfast) we were met with some (as we thought) early morning mist on our way to the terminal; there had been a bit of fog the day before & so we thought that it was the remnants of this that would soon burn off in the summer sun.

Arriving at the terminal, we had the opportunity to take an earlier crossing which was boarding so we decided to take it as we’d get some breakfast in France.

This year we, and many others, were subjected to a far more thorough security check than we had previously experienced which involved opening both bonnet & boot of the car… which turned out to be useful as I found a spanner that had been left under the bonnet by my mechanic! Which probably explained the minor rattle!!

Beyond the extra security checks – which we have no problems with – the trip to France was as uneventful as usual.

French fog is as bad as English Fog

Unfortunately, arriving on the other side of the English Channel, we appeared to have brought the fog with us as visibility was very poor. As we set out for Rouen, we remarked that the only weather that we don’t appear to have met on our journey’s in France is snow!

As there was, quite literally, nothing to see, we decided to head off towards Rouen.

After a while, we decided to stop for breakfast at the Aire Baie de Somme. We’ve called there in the past as it’s a really well-appointed service area…

… at least normally it is. Unfortunately for us, they were having a major redevelopment so all that was open was a small shop selling gifts, a coffee machine in the wall (with a huge queue) and some outdoor toilets!

So, we took the opportunity to get out the maps & head on to Rouen…

Missed breweries

As I’d mentioned before, Glyn had done some pre-research & found some breweries to visit on our way down… however, as we didn’t have the maps open, in the fog we missed some of them, so a Gallic shrug of the shoulders & off we went.

Tardis Town

Continuing on our way, we decided that, having missed breakfast, we had better have some lunch (which was why we’d stopped at the Baie de Somme), so having seen a sign for Blangy sue Bresle – a town that we’d never visited – we decided to get off the motorway & grab some lunch.

Having parked up in what appeared to be a small town, we began to walk looking for somewhere to eat & soon realised that this town was far bigger on the inside than it looked on the outside!

First stop was a bar tabac for our traditional “first beer”


Having slaked our thirst, food was next in line – baguettes with ham & salad and, of course, our first cakes in France

I went for my usual tarte fraise, Glyn opting for something far more exotic!

We then had a brief look around the large church that we were sat by which was set up for a wedding later in the day

This church had been destroyed & rebuilt on a number of occasions in the past – starting in the 100 years’ war

We find Rouen full

The nearer to Rouen that we were, the better the weather was becoming, so we decided, as we were earlier than planned, to park up in Rouen & have a walk round. However, as we were driving, it was absolutely “jam packed” with cars & despite driving around for a while, we couldn’t find anywhere to park, so we called it off & headed to our usual overnight accommodation at the Brasserie Chant du Loup, our host, Patrick & his beer.

Patrick explained that it was a special festival where shops can sell their goods at really low prices & so people come from all over to take advantage of the bargains.

Over samples of a couple of Patrick’s beers, we planned out in detail our itinerary for the next couple of days as we were meeting up with a chap named Tom Mountain. Tom had been introduced to us by David Mabbutt as his father had been a tank driver with the Irish Guards in Normandy & Tom was hoping to follow some of his travels. Unfortunately, he had been suffering with sciatica, so was less mobile than he’d hoped to be, but this didn’t stop him from looking forward to meeting us the following day at the Tilly sur Seulles book fair & joining in with our photo expedition.

So finally, we went up the road to the local pizza restaurant for some food… including a reacquaintance with their fiery chilly oil

Normandy 2018 Day 2 – Brewery, Micropubs and wartime memories with a train for good measure

Locomotive on the M25

Yes, you read that correctly!

Leaving Aylesbury following a fulfilling breakfast, we headed towards the M25 – the ring-road motorway around London. Whilst you’d expect this to be free-flowing, it rarely is… a couple of years ago on one of our trips, it came to a halt in order for a duck  & ducklings to walk across (I jest not), this year, the traffic slowed as it passed a low loader carrying the Bittern locomotive on its way to a heritage railway somewhere; unfortunately, as I was driving, I couldn’t get a photo.

Apparently, it was on it’s way from Crewe to Margate & here’s some further information https://theisleofthanetnews.com/bittern-has-arrived-in-margate/

Planning pays off

Prior to setting off this year, Glyn had done some research and found some brew pubs and other interesting places to visit (yes there can be something more than brewpubs that are interesting!). One of these was on Folkestone harbour where some containers had been set up to be used as a base for fledgling businesses one being a small brewery: the Docker brewery, where we had a beer and some bread as they make both!



Battle of Britain museum

We then went to the Battle of Britain museum on the site of the old Hawkinge airfield.

This was a very interesting museum with very large number of artefacts, including many replica aircraft (mainly Hurricanes). However, we both felt that an opportunity had been missed in that many of the artefacts were related to two or three pilots and the museum had spread these throughout the exhibits rather than pulled them together as a single series telling the story of the battle from a pilot’s perspective in a more interesting way. Unfortunately, we do not have any photographs from the museum as cameras are strictly not allowed as they had had an unfortunate theft where they believe that part of the reconnaissance for which had been done by someone taking photographs.

Leaving the museum, we drove past the memorial to pilots who lost their lives flying from Hawkinge

On to Dover

We then set off for Dover where we were staying for the night. We found this fairly quickly & easily, unfortunately, there were a lot of steps that needed climbing up to just get to the front door and even more inside. Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem, however, whilst visiting the museum Colin had pulled a muscle in his leg and was finding walking difficult.

Fortunately, we didn’t have to climb all the way up to the castle

So, what to do about tea? Fortunately, our pre-visit research had found that there were a number of micropubs that had been set up in Dover together with a couple of breweries’ brewery taps where you could try their beers. Micro pubs are a relatively new trend in the UK where a shop is taken over & fitted out as a mini pub… you don’t get the same facilities as you find in a “normal” pub, but they’re usually run by Real Ale enthusiasts & so of interest to Colin & Glyn!

The nearest one to our accommodation was The Lanes Micropub where we were made very welcome by owners Debbie and Keith; even though it was our first visit, we were welcomed as friends. A couple of beers there and then off for some food to a restaurant recommended by them: The Allotment, an English restaurant run by an Italian gentleman! The food was fantastic and definitely somewhere to consider a return visit. Having eaten, we then headed off to another micropub, this time The Thirsty Scarecrow which had more of a focus on cider. A swift beer, here, before catching a bus up to the brewery tap that we had decided to visit.

Brewery Tap splits opinions


This was the Breakwater Brewery Tap. Our beers here split our opinions! The first was “Cow Juice”, a Milk Stout. Colin was expecting this to be very sweet and creamy, but it wasn’t! It was the new style of milk stout coming to the fore in the UK which Glyn really enjoyed. We then had one of their bitters before once again heading back in towards Dover on the bus.

As we were walking past The Lanes we decided to pop in for a final drink and for a change, we both opted for cider as they had a number available & we thought it would get us in the mood for Normandy!

In addition to “standard” ciders & perries (ciders are made from apples, perries from pears) we had to have a quick taste of one called an “apple pie cider”… and that was exactly what you tasted: first the apples, then a hint of cinnamon coming through and then finally, (& frankly unbelievably), a taste of pastry!!

If you are ever in Dover, then The Lanes micropub run by Debbie and Keith Lane is most definitely to be recommended. The welcome that you get is wonderful whether you’re a new visitor, a returning visitor or a regular, you are equally made to feel very welcome.

So, it was then back to accommodation ready for an early start as tomorrow we go across to France

Normandy 2018 Day 1 – Deja-vu all over again

Day 1 – our customary start

Beer and brewpubs

Yes, our annual trip to Normandy started in it’s usual fashion directed by the good words of CamRA’s Good Beer Guide – though this time, it was easier to plan as we’d previously arranged to try to meet up with one of the chaps from CamRA in Aylesbury where we’d arranged to meet at the Hop Pole Brewpub – regular readers of this blog will know that pub quite well!

Unfortunately, Alexander was double booked, so we were forced to drink alone… apart from a South African chap who started talking to us & explaining that his country was worse than the Wild West… and parts even worse than that…

Then it was off to our “Purple Palace” (no sign of Lenny Henry, ‘though) for our accomodation

More research

Next to our Premier Inn, there’s the “onsite” pub, so we called in for a swift beer & then Glyn went for the coffee & Colin for the homemade lemonade & whilst there we spent a couple of hours reviewing the information that we have on some of the men – which ranges from quite full stories (Blunt & Caldwell) to others with still very little (Bird, Brunt & Chapman). Bird is intriguing in that the National Archives have digitised some of their POW records, but his is still secure until 2025… no idea why…

Rain, rain, go away

Over the past few days, in the UK, we’ve had some terrible thunderstorms with a month’s worth of rainfall in just over an hour, so as we set out to walk into town to meet up with Stuart Hadaway (again, regular readers will be aware of the support that he’s been to this site) the clouds grew dark & a gentle rain began to fall… so a detour to a bus stop & the realisation that we were protected by a number of large bushes & that a bus was due in a few minutes seemed like a good idea… especially when, two minutes after boarding the bus, the heavens opened!

Even more beer & research

Then it was to the King’s Head in the centre of town – Brewery Tap of the Chiltern Brewery – to meet up with Stuart & a discussion of the latest book that he’s working on as well as a general historical chat… which, on more than one occasion dissolved into laughter.

Stuart then offered us a lift back to the hotel & on the way to his car pointed out the statue that the people of Aylesbury erected to commemorate the coronation of King George V – this is of John Hampden who has two key points of fame… first he was one of the 5 Parliamentarians that helped (with Charles I)  kick off the English Civil War (great idea for a statue for a new king’s coronation!) and secondly the Handley Page Hampden bomber was named after him (as are a number of American towns, apparently).

 

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Updates and things…

Swans swimming along…

Whilst on the face of it, everything has been a bit quiet on the website front on the research project… in fact it’s a bit like a swan swimming along – serene and  gentle on the surface and paddling madly underwater!

In fact, also, work has been getting in the way & as at the moment that pays much better, I’ve had to focus on that!

So a brief update…

Gilbert Raimbault & Martha BowenFirst of all some sad news… Yves Brion has informed me that M Gilbert Raimbault (who aged 9 saw the various “Men in the Shed” as his father was the village baker & the shed their grain store) has passed away. He had been ill for a while & in hospital since December. It was an honour & pleasure to meet Gilbert & also to be able to introduce him to Martha & Sam Bowen on their visit to Normandy a couple of years ago. Martha is one of Raymond Elledge’s daughters & Gilbert described him to her… as hubby Sam said – he’s never seen her grinning so much!

This main website is undergoing some work on the “back end” – as at the moment, with all of the content it’s a little slow to load & also it is approaching the limit of my space availability that I pay for. Also, as it was designed a few years ago, it’s not “mobile friendly”. So the plan is to use this for the annual trip reports (as usual) and details of the men & their history – so nothing different to what we currently have… however, the big change is that the number of photographs on the site will be reduced (it’s them that take up a lot of the space & when I first started, I didn’t reduce the size of the photos). Moving forward, there will be enough to tell the story (& their individual stories), but the main photo storage will be on Facebook… we have a Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/MenintheShed/) which will have a Photo Album for each of the Men & that will hold all of the images that we have. There is also be a Facebook Group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/MenintheShed/) which will have details of our research trips to Normandy & anything else that we discover (so similar to the Blogs on the main site) but it will also host a much larger collection of photos.

Also, I’m setting up a forum which will have threads running on each of the men for people (friends, family, etc) to add information, discuss stuff, etc Eventually, this will (hopefully) integrated into the main website; in the short term there will be a link

Eventually, as & when funds permit, I’ll be talking to my web designers to have the site updated & made “mobile friendly” which should also make it easier to use

Glyn is helping me with all of this & hopefully, between us, it will all be sorted soon as we think that we understand between ourselves what we want & would like to have it sorted in time for our next trip to Normandy!

GDPR and email newsletters

And finally, here in the UK we’re fast approaching the deadline for GDPR which states that anyone who sends out newsletter type emails needs to have specific (and recorded) permission to do so. As a result, moving forward, I’m going to be doing updates via Mailchimp – I use this for work & it seems to be ok, so it makes sense to use it for the Men in the Shed, too… so, if you’d like to continue to receive emails (& hopefully you will), you’ll need to go onto this page of the website http://www.menintheshed.com/contact-me/ and complete the Newsletter Signup form. You’ll then receive an email asking you to confirm that you want to receive the newsletter (to be GDPR compliant it has to be “double opt in”). If there is someone who you think I may have missed with this email… please forward it (or let them know about the new newsletter format)

Look forward to seeing you all on the next list!!

Normandy 2017 Day 10 – Respects at Hottot then beers at Brasserie Thiriez

Day 10 – Thursday 8th June

Paying our respects at Hottot les Bagues

We had a couple of things planned for our final day in Normandy; needless to say they didn’t go as anticipated!

We were a little later leaving in the morning than we had planned,  so,  having a visited the Commonwealth graves at Hottot les Bagues on behalf of Muir Findlay and placed some flowers on the grave of his friend, we headed off all the way through France north to the small village of a Esquelbecq to our overnight accommodation at the Brasserie Thiriez which we’d discovered last year.

Excellent timing at the Brasserie Thiriez

Our timing was immaculate as we arrived just as a coach party were moving from the brewery tour into the brewery sampling area and so as it would have been rude of us not to join them, we did!!

Our meal that night was at a traditional French restaurant – La Taverne du Westhoek in the nearby village of Quaëdypre    – specialising in local delicacies that had been recommended to us by Marielle from the brewery

We awoke next day to a bright and sunny but breezy morning and the shock results from the UK General Election but that’s politics and outside of the scope of this blog!

We then set off to join the Chunnel train back to the UK and another year’s onsite research completed, though with , as usual, plenty of follow-up stuff to do!

Normandy 2017 Day 9 – Estry, Deep Purple, barbed wire and beer

Day 9 – Wednesday 7th June

A walk around Estry

This morning we spent time looking around the village of Estry as Colin wanted to take photographs of the locations of damaged and destroyed Churchill tanks following the battle to liberate the village as he needed this for his war gaming group and his military history society.

We returned back to Tony and Jill’s for a quick beer with Tony before then heading back to check out the location of the “intermediate barn”.

More searching for farms

The first two locations that we found, although they had looked quite suitable on maps and aerial  photographs, didn’t match the descriptions in Ray Elledge’s manuscript.

However driving through a little hamlet called Black Night we are spotted an interesting group of buildings. Both of us being Deep Purple fans, we found this amusing & wondered if this was “a sign”!

So we decided to turn the car round, park & have a look.

German barbed wire – were we getting close?

One of the first things that we noticed was that the was some German barbed wire still in place over the windows of a barn, and when speaking in a mix of broken French and English with both the farmer and his wife, it appeared that in the garage where the barbed wire was covering the window was used to hold prisoners by the Germans! In his manuscript, Ray mentions a window in the barn that they were going to with barbed wire covering the windows.

This is something that we will be following up because the layout of the buildings ties in quite well (and better than others that we had found) with the one given in the Manuscript.

Off to Tilly sur Seulles

We were quite pleased with this result and so we then headed off to meet up with Stéphane Jacquet at the ceremony at Tilly sur Seulles, arriving about halfway through.

We then had the opportunity to meet up with some veterans & have a chat with them, including one who’d been in the 2nd Essex Battalion & recalled there being 3 “Smith”s in the Battalion. Unfortunately, he couldn’t recall their first names.

We followed this with a beer with Stéphane, but then realised that we were now going to be late for our meal back at Tony and Jill’s! Fortunately, they now know us well enough net to understand that sometimes research takes over!

After our meal, we shared with them the aerial photographs of their local village of Estry

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.

Normandy 2017 Day 7 – On Hill 112

Day 7 – Monday June 5th

On Hill 112 with Albert Figg

Today saw us heading off to meet with Albert Figg on the top of Hill 112.

This is something that we do each year and following the small ceremony that is held there,  we go for something to eat. This year the ceremony was larger than usual as I think people had been attracted by the fact that the trees have now been planted and the statue of the infantryman moved into its final location

The 112 trees have been planted as a living memorial to all on both sides of the conflict that fought & died here.

Whist on the Hill, we were privileged to meet two other veterans that had fought there – David Mylchreest who at the time was a lieutenant with the 4th Somerset Light Infantry and Jack Woods who served in tanks with 9th Royal Tank Regiment (& who would have been in Churchill tanks similar to the one that is a memorial on the hill). So, in addition to Albert, we now know a Gunner, Infantryman & tanker all of whom fought on the hill

As part of the promotional stuff for the Hill, Ben Oostra had produced some stickers with the emblems of all of the allied units that had been involved in the fighting for the Hill. He had also produced some medallions for people who had helped in promoting and supporting the efforts to raise funds and awareness of the memorials. Colin was privileged to receive one of  these in recognition of his support for the project including some fundraising & general raising of awareness.

We then spent the afternoon taking photographs of key locations for the battle for Hill 112 which Colin had not been able to get in previous visits as he is delivering the talk on the battle in July to his local military history group – the Manchester Military History Society – as the annual Ian Daglish Memorial lecture

Becoming “Tired and Emotional”

It was then off to Tony and Jill Stansfield for our new accommodation for the evening and a meal with the family. As is traditional, wine flowed as did Tony’s Calva which, by the end of the evening resulted in both of us becoming “tired and emotional”!