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News > Pangbournian Stories > Remembering the OP sacrifice on the 80th Anniversary of D-Day

Remembering the OP sacrifice on the 80th Anniversary of D-Day

On 6th June 1944 the largest amphibious invasion in the history of warfare took place. Many OPs played their part, here we commemorate them and highlight some of their stories.
Major (Acting) Charles Martin
Major (Acting) Charles Martin

The 6th June 2024 marks the 80th anniversary of the largest seaborne invasion in history. D-Day or Operation Overlord to give it its official name, marked the beginning of the liberation of France and western Europe.  Twelve OPs, who were directly involved in the operation feature in Robin Knights excellent book 'Leaders' and it's from Robins book that we commomemorate some of  these OPs as well as remembering all those who lost their lives on the 6th June 1944.

Major (Acting) Charles Martin (1930-34) was a member of the 1st Battalion Hampshire Regiment  On D-Day the Hampshire Regiment were the first British infantry to get ashore and were making their third assault landing in 11 months.  On June 6th, "unsupported by tanks, they walked into minefields and a whirlwind of shell, mortar and small arms fire" in the words of historian Christopher Jary.  A few days before he embarked for France, Martin had written: "it's incredibly lovely here today.  It is very hard to realise that the world is in just about as bloody a mess as it can possibly be."  Shortly after landing on Gold Beach, A Company had ceased to exsist and the Hampshire's CO was severely wounded.  Martin was called forward to take command.  As he set off across the beach, he was killed by a sniper.  He is buried in the CWGC cemetery at Ryes near Arromanches.

Major (Acting Lt Colonel) Edward Charlton (1926-31) in the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry had moved to 9 Parachute Battalion, part of the 6th Airborne Division, and dropped into Normandy the night before D-Day as part of a feint to outflank and capture the powerful Merville battery covering Sword beach.  The enemy strength at the the battery had been underestimated and too few paratroopers landed in the vicinity . While the battery was captured, Charlton was among many Allied casualties in the fierce fighting that followed the next day.

Lt Commander Roger Hill (1923 - 1927) had an illustrious naval career.  He got his first taste of life in a destroyer in 1935 and earlier in the war he was serving on HMS Ledbury when she formed part of the infamous PQ17 convoy heading for Russia in June/July 1942.  For the destroyers, the Allied invasion of Europe proved to be anything but straightforward.  At first all went well from a naval point of view.  But soon after the landings German aircraft appeared and began dropping a new type of mine into the sea and around the invasion fleet.  Much damage was sustained and in one ten day period in early July 118 mines exploded close to Jervis, each one potentially lethal.

Air Commodore Dennis Mitchell (1933 - 1936) ended his career with a knighthood as a much decorated Air Commodore, Captain of the Queens Flight, ADC to The Queen and managing director of two Belgian aviation companies. In July 1944, along with his navigator he was awarded the first of his DFCs for his role covering the D-Day landings. The citation read "These officers, the pilot and navigator respectively, of an aircraft, were detailed to attack a target in Normandy recently.  When approaching the target their aircraft was heavily attacked by anti-aircraft fire, but despite this a successful attack was made. The excellent results achieved were due mainly to the fine leadership of Wing Commander Mitchell and the navigational skills of Flying Officer Farquhar.  Their courage and determination in the face of heavy enemy opposition was most praiseworthy."

These are just a few examples of OP involvment on D-Day, others are named below.  But if you would like to read more about these courageous men, they can be found in Robin Knights book (Leaders).

 

 George Chatterton (1925-29) - Commander of the 1st Btn Glider Pilot Regiment 

 Derick de Stacpoole (1932-37) a Major in 48 Royal Marine Commando. Wounded - one of the first to land on Juno beach. 

 James Wilford (1919-21) Commander of HMS Volunteer which escorted the 1st US Division to the beaches of Normandy. 

John Burfield (1931-34) commander of HMS Faulknor. 

 George Forman (1924-27) commander  of HMS Garth. 

 George Crowley (1930-33) commander of HMS Walpole. 

 Charles Newman (1931-36) a Sq Ldr in 613 Squadron patrolling the Cherbourg Peninsula. 

Rex Willis (1938-42) - the finest rugby player produced by the College. On D-Day he commanded a landing craft in the RN on the beaches of Normandy. 

 

 

 

 

 

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