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My latest, as it is at the blog. - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
My latest, as it is at the blog.


MCMXLIV: Nos a Gulielmo victi victoris patriam liberavimus

On this day – a phrase that calls up immediately, and without one’s consciously willing it, Churchill’s ‘Action This Day’ memoranda: aptly – on this day, then, seven-and-sixty years gone, the narrow seas and the Norman coast were the balance in which the world was weighed

In that weighing and meting, the distant heirs of Brennus threw a sword upon the scales to balance them.

Between Ouistreham and St-Aubin-sur-Mer, in Calvados, the East Riding sent its sons to fight as they had fought at Blenheim; to fight now beside the sons of South Lancs, the Excellers of Gallipoli, Clem Attlee’s old regiment, and beside the Suffolks garlanded with the laurels and roses of Minden.

The Lincolnshires were at Sword Beach also, not yet the Royal Lincolnshires, yet bearing battle honours from Malplaquet to Bunker’s Hill, from Nosey’s campaign in the Peninsula to Arras, from Norway and Dunkirk and Italy. They were brigaded with the KOSB, a Minden Regiment, with its memories of Killiecrankie and Culloden, Chitral and Mons; and with the wolfhounds of the Royal Ulster Rifles, who had answered to Wellington at Badajoz.

Warwickshire, Norfolk, and Salop – the KSLI – were there, the Midlands and East Anglia and the Welsh Marches shoulder to shoulder, and honours between that reached back to the Boyne and Salamanca, Sevastopol and Cambrai and Dunkirk.

There were Sappers and Gunners and Hussars, and Lord Lovat and Piper Millin and the Commandos, including Kieffer’s French beside HM Jollies, the Royal Marines.

The pattern was repeated at Gold: DLI from the County Palatine of Durham, Green Howards, East Yorks, Devons and Hants and Dorsets together, the South Wales Borderers and the Glosters already Glorious if not yet so named, brigaded with the men of Essex; Royal Marine Commandos, Dragoon Guards, Lancers and Sappers and the KRRC, Sherwood Rangers, Beds and Herts and elements of the Border Regiment.

Between Sword and Gold was Juno, where 3rd Canadian Infantry Division and the Royal Marines showed their mettle: Highlanders from Ottawa and Ontario, the Fort Garry Horse, the Royal Winnipeg Rifles and the Québécois Régiment de la Chaudière and all the manhood of Canada from the Atlantic provinces to the great West.... It was to be the Canadians who penetrated the furthest towards objective when the day had ended.

Every regiment, like every college and every university, every parish and every communion, has its particular ethos. The Americans did not admit that they possessed a regimental system on the British model; yet they did. Their 29th Division, at Omaha Beach, was drawn from National Guard units – the Americans’ Territorials – from states that had been on opposing sides in the American Civil War. Pennsylvanian units could boast battle honours from First and Second Bull Run, or Antietam; their Virginian counterparts in the Division had the same honours, yet for First and Second Manassas and for Sharpsburg. The 116th Infantry Regiment, the regiment of the Bedford Boys, was at Omaha; 3rd Battalion had roots in the colonial militia of the Old Dominion, yet its service to the United States had not been uninterrupted, not least between 1861 and 1865. Its lineage was that of the Stonewall Brigade, II Corps, Army of Northern Virginia, and the spirit of its great commander seemed to hover over it even upon a strand in France.

Such stories could be repeated of every Allied formation upon that memorable day, from the USAAF and RAF and the Naval contingent, to the Poles waiting to aid in exploiting the coming breakout; from private soldiers in the US 8th and 12th Regiments of Infantry, to 4th Division’s second in command at Utah Beach, Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt Jnr.

Bombardier JA Hill, 4th Airlanding Anti-Tank Bty, RA, from Walsall, died that day.

Major AM Onions, 101st Bty, 20th Anti-Tank Regiment, RA, never returned to Moseley, Birmingham.

The studious Captain JH White, South Lancs, attached to 5th Bn, the East Yorkshire Regiment, was killed in action.

L/Cpl John Dickinson, 1st Bn King’s Own Scottish Borderers, was 28 years in age when he died upon D-Day, leaving his wife Nellie a widow.

Pte HR Crosswell, 2d Bn the Glosters, also left a widow new-made upon that day.

Major Richard Gough Talbot Baines of the Hampshires died at the age of thirty years, and sleeps in Bayeux War Cemetery with over sixty of his fellow officers and men who fell that day, from a lieutenant who’d won the MC to a nineteen-year-old private soldier who should never see twenty.

And the roll could be called over forever and we not sufficing in honouring these men.

What we can do, and must do, is to remember.

They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;

They fell with their faces to the foe.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.



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