Monday, 18 August 2014

The Battle for Lénault

Posted by Rosie

Last Sunday I posted up a picture of the memorial in Lénault honouring the brave soldiers who liberated the village from the Germans in WWII. Since then I have been trying to find out a bit more about what happened 70 years ago in August 1944.  My searches online have not proved massively fruitful but this is what I have come up with some information.

The 7th Somerset Light Infantry who liberated Lénault were part of the 43rd Wessex Division and they landed on the Normandy beaches about 2 weeks after D-Day.  They may well have been involved in the battles for Hill 112 (where a friend's father lost his leg but survived) and Mount Pinçon, just north of Lénault.  Mount Pinçon is the highest point in Calvados, making it strategically vital for the Allied troops to secure.  The result was extremely heavy bombardment to the surrounding villages and town of Aunay-sur-Odon at it's foot.  There was much loss of civilian life.  A memorial on the Mount has been erected by the 13th/18th Hussars by way of an apology for this destruction.  

Memorial on Mount Pinçon

Lénault's neighbouring village of Le Plessis Grimault also took a battering as the Germans were holed up in the tower of the old abbey church with a large gun.  It was finally liberated on August 7th, 3 days before Lenault.

Allied troops in Le Plessis Grimault

For Lénault these may have been saving graces.  Once Mount Pinçon and Le Plessis Grimault were secured German troops may have withdrawn with less of a battle leaving Lénault empty.  I am only guessing this mind.  I do know that the house at the end of our drive was destroyed by a bomb during the war - I do not know when though.

What I do know for sure is that no part of the army took a direct route in any of their campaigns of La Bataille de Normandie.  On this map Lénault is just to the east but you can see what convoluted routes different battalions took.  After Lénault, the 7th Somerset Light Infantry headed north east to Clécy and ultimately east to Berlin.  One of the soldiers in this battalion was Thomas Yearsley who would later unveil the plaque now on the wall in Lénault.  However his story poignantly illustrates that whilst the battle for Normandy saw defeat for the Germans it wasn't until the following year, 9 months later that war in Europe ended and another 3 months after that for it to end in the Far East.  Thomas was later captured by the Germans and served out the rest of the war as a prisoner of war.   There was still much suffering before peace was finally secured.

I would be very interested to hear from anyone who may have more information on the war around Lénault.  Please do get in touch either in a comment or by emailing us here.  Many thanks.

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