Mrs I.C., a D-Day veteran's widow, was speaking to me a few days before our trip to to the beaches in 2000, but I could find nothing on it then. I assumed that the many stories of capturing the beaches obscured the accounts of inland battles in Normandy, or one of us had made a mistake. But then I began to pick up a few references.
An extract from a recent source:
"The story of the anti tank gunners at St Pierre is largely missing from accounts of the battle of Normandy. The fighting around St Pierre is one of the battles covered in the battlefield studies undertaken by the Cadets at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, but the anti tank gunners have not formed part of the story. They aren’t in the history of 8 DLI (Durham Light Infantry)." (www.theobservationpost.com/blog/?p=132).
St Pierre was captured by the Allies on 8 - 9 June and recaptured on 10 June by the Germans who don't seem to have been keen on the enterprise:
"Early this morning...We attacked a village…the artillery opened up...Oh, that certainly was not much fun…Then came a counter-attack…the enemy planes found us and the artillery fire came down on us again. We await further orders. Shall I have to go forward again? Thank God we are staying here overnight." (www.theobservationpost.com/blog/?p=132).
The Allies re-captured St Pierre on 19 June, the same day as the storm that destroyed Mulberry A and damaged Mulberry B with 12 men missing (see previous post). One June many years later I was chatting to the D-Day veteran. In an echo of World War I veteran, Henry Allingham's words, he said: 'War is stupid.'
Source (history, regiments and maps):
It's almost two years since I published In Our Fathers' Footsteps (see under BOOKS). My latest book, One Dog and His Cop, about my cousin's police dog,was published 30 November this year (see under BOOKS).