On the 77th anniversary of the D Day landings, the British Normandy Memorial has been unveiled in the town of Ver-sur-Mer. Liam O’Connor’s elegant design is a fitting tribute, but why has it taken so long for the country to recognize the sacrifice of these 22,442 men and women with a permanent monument?
For my latest book, I have been allowed to quote from the private papers of Colonel Patrick McCraith, whose regiment, the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry landed with all its battle tanks on D Day. In the previous year, they had fought all the way from El Alamein through Libya to Tunisia where their commanding officer, Colonel Flash Kellett (the MP for Birmingham Aston), had sadly been killed in action.
Pat McCraith, who had also commanded the Yeomanry Patrol in the Long Range Desert Group, was wounded for the third time on 10th June 1944. He was in regimental headquarters in a farmhouse, near to Tilly-sur-Seulles, when a German shell exploded among the officers, killing Major Michael Laycock (acting commanding officer), Captain George Jones (adjutant) and Lieutenant Lawrence Head (intelligence officer). It’s no wonder, Lieutenant General Sir Brian Horrocks wrote about the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry in World War II “no armoured regiment can show a finer record of hard fighting.”