Commemorations at Asnelles, Normandy
LCpl David Browning
On the 6th June two Soldiers from 3 PWRR accompanied veterans of the Royal Hampshire’s and PWRR to Asnelles in Normandy to take part in the 78th Anniversary commemorations of the D-Day landings, in particular for the 1st Hampshire’s who landed at, and subsequently liberated the village.
The 1st Hampshires landing around a twin machine gun post on Gold Beach overlooked by German positions in the sanitorium. From the Royal Hampshire Regiment collection.
1st Royal Hampshires as part of 231st Brigade (also comprised of 1st Dorsets and 2nd Devons) were the first British troops to land in occupied France on Gold beach at 7.25am on the 6th June. Within minutes of landing their CO and Coy 2IC were both casualties and several frontal attacks across sand dunes on the village of Asnelles and fortified hospital were forced back, sometimes at grenade range.
After flanking the village from the rear, supported by elements of the 1st Devons and M7 Sextons from the Nottinghamshire (Sherwood Rangers) Yeomanry, the Hampshires went on the capture a radar station overlooking the village and their ultimate objective on day one, the town of Arromanche (This would later be the location of the British mulberry harbour, remnants of which can still be seen today). The Royal Hampshires recorded 180 dead by evening of the 6th.
Preparations for the start of the commemoration, including a speech by the mayor, laying of wreaths by Royal Hampshire Association, 3 and 4 PWRR, flowers by the children of the town and the playing of national anthems.
The Soldiers from 3PWRR arrived in Asnelles before 7;30am and were present at the commemorations held by the Royal Marine Commandos and Royal Yeomanry before taking part in the village’s commemoration for 231st Brigade. Concurrently other elements of PWRR including the Col of the Regiment were present at other memorials across Normandy.
LCpl’s Browning and Avis with veterans of the Royal Hampshire’s and PWRR after the ceremony.
Following the official commemorations, the next two days were spent with with Maj Emery (Rtd) exploring the battlefields of Gold, Juno and Omaha Beaches in more detail, hopefully forming the basis of future opportunities for soldiers of the battalion to take part in commemorating the regiments predecessors vital role in the D-day Landings.