Saturday, 5 July 2014

A Normandy Tale, 70 years in the making.

Posted by Rosie

Last weekend we had friends staying in the gite although we had lost contact over 18 years ago!  They did not even know we have moved to France but when David was googling for gite accommodation he stumbled across one Eco-Gites of Lenault run by one Rosie Hill and realised who it was.

David  had a very particular reason to visit Normandy at this time. His father, Peter, was in the 413 Battery, Essex Yeomanry (Royal Artillery) and he had landed on the beach at Le Hamel, (Gold Beach) on June 6th 1944, part of the first wave of soldiers in the D-Day Landings.  He succeeded in getting safely off the beach and worked his way inland in what was to be a much slower than anticipated liberation of Normandy. Probably luckily for David, his father was injured near Tilly-sur-Seulles and he saw no more action from that day.


Lieutenant Peter Mitchell

Peter died in 1997 but left detailed memoires of his time here in Normandy so David and his wife Jackie wanted to come to Normandy and retrace the route he took from the beach to the spot where he was injured. Whilst it was not feasible to do this in real time what they did succeed in doing was finding the exact field where he had been injured and they stood in this now peaceful corner of Normandy, 70 years to the day after the mortar landed that injured Peter.

Near Tilly-sur-Seulles where Peter's war ended in injury.

Interestingly had Peter not been injured he would have passed very close if not even through Lenault. 413 Battery was involved in the battle to liberate the neighbouring village of St Pierre La Vieille from the West which would have been via Lenault.  How amazing is that!

Lenault was eventually liberated on August 10th 1944 by the 7th Battalion 43 Wessex Division.   

If you would like to know more about Peter's time in Normandy, David has been putting his memoires up on this Facebook page.  They make fascinating reading.

We have also been in contact with a lady whose father did help liberate Lenault and later unveiled the plaque on the wall of the Mayor's Office, celebrating the day.  Other guests in the gite have also had family members who fought in this area. 

Do you have any family members who were involved in the liberation of Normandy or do you have any D-Day stories to tell?  We would love to hear them.

12 comments :

  1. Such memories make a lovely and powerful history. Was good to read ... :)

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it. It was a lovely story to learn especially as I knew Peter.

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  2. I loved reading this story. I have also clicked the Facebook link to check out his page. I am not a big history buff but am fascinated by personal histories.

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    1. I did not like history at school and it was only when I started to learn more about how people lived rather than which battle took place when and where that I got hooked. Hearing the story of some-one I knew was very special.

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  3. I love reading about and visiting historical places. It is especially wonderful when you own ancestors had been in that very place.

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    1. It was very special for David to be where his father was injured 70 years to the day after the event.

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  4. Hi Rosie - please don't forget to comment on my site for the UBC as you posted after me! (Our post today: http://masabicou.com/mirabelles/ ) How funny, we live in France too! My daughter Caty used to run a Bed & Breakfast here, but now we just all live here! I did experience the War, but differently from you - see here: http://masabicou.com/judys-page/ Thanks, Judy

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    1. Judy - that is such an interesting story and you were so lucky to survive your crossing. War has such a great effect on the lives of everyone it touches. (Comment added to your post - the first one seemed to disappear so I hope this one arrives safely!)

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  5. Gosh what a lovely, moving story!

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    1. Isn't it just, Sophie - especially as I knew Peter but I had no idea of his involvement in the war here in Normandy.

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  6. What an amazing story. I will definitely be showing my OH thr FB page. He's loves military history. His Grandfather was a POW and we have the original telegram informing OH's Grandmother that he was missing presumed killed. Thoroughly enjoyed reading this post. #whatsthestory

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  7. Oh my goodness Rosie what an amazing story, just fascinating. My father in law was in the military (as was the generation before him) so there's a lot of it in our family. Must have been incredible to hear of the close connection to Normandy. Just wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing with #whatsthestory and sorry to be late commenting x

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