Discussion in 'RAC & RTR' started by Ramiles, Feb 25, 2016.
Bit in the French news here:
Calvados : la bataille de Tilly commémorée, hommage aux soldats britanniques
Google translate(d): Google Translate
(I think I can see you in the back of one of the pics Karl ;-)
Ah brill Robert, yes, this me in the background in blue on right. Taking it all in..tell you about day two a lil later...
After walking back to the hotel from the French/Irish bar in Bayeux, a ten minute walk that took slightly longer for some reason, bed was about 0300.
Up at 0900, for ' mounting up' was to be in thirty minutes.
This morning everyone was wearing either their Blues or blazers with SRY ties, bowler hats, berets.
We mount up, or get on the bus, and head towards the coast to La Hamel where we are to attend a ceremony to remember those men who sat in midget subs just off the beach for two days, as pathfinders for the engineers that would blast obstacles clear for the landing craft and dd tanks. We arrive just as Royal Marine ceremony is ending. The RMs had lost several men in and around La Hamel. We get off the bus to find that there is a very heavy wind blowing along the beach. The sky is dark and threatening, but the sun breaks through. The sea is an incredible colour like jade and looks inviting. The waves are high.
The midget sub ceremony takes place led by the Mayor of Hamel, and an Australian whose father was one of the submariners.
Incredibly windy with the occasion slash of rain. The only shelter is behind WD35 where the new SRY plaque is already in place.
Standing on the eastern side of the bunker there is complete silence and no wind.
Finally at 11am the SRY, families, friends and guests gather around the former gun emplacement which had caused so much damage exactly 73 years earlier.
I position myself on the ground directly in front of the crowd and the plaque and ready myself to video the unveiling live on FB.
Then I turn to my left and see Tpr.Graham Stevenson!!!..I don't believe it !!.. I'd only ever written to Sherwood Ranger vets before and spoken with One on the telephone several times in the nine months previously (David Render) but here is one live in front of me!..and who's he with..?!.. Karl König..a former 21.Panzer Div vet and now an honorary Sherwood Ranger!. I don't have time to think.. Padre Mark Chester starts the ceremony, there are speeches by the Mayor and the Lord Lt of Nottingham and the Regiments Colonel, Melvyn Colville and the plaque is unveiled marking the spot where the Regiment had landed that day 73 years ago.
Then it rains, but who cares. The ceremony ends, I snap away at the Regimental Royalty.
"There's Stevenson, there's Konig..." I say to a cpl of the lads... A SSM asks the Colonel to introduce me to them. Don't worry he says, were all going to lunch together.
So we mount up and drive the short distance to Asnelles town hall where the Mayor has laid on Champagne , wine and a buffet.
We all bail in. Its like a family reunion. Everyone is in great form. I'm blown away. I don't know which way to turn but I need to charge my phone and I see a socket directly behind Stevenson's chair. I grab a couple of glasses of champagne and sit beside him. I introduce myself, and say why I'm there and who my grandfather was. We just chat like we've known each other years and share a laugh, and several glasses of wine, we don't talk much about the war but I show him a photograph I colourized of him and he's impressed and tells me of the day he had the photo taken in Egypt. I'm chuffed as he's says he'd completely forgotten about that day and says he'd had a few beers and even nicked the photographers Fez, (there's a picture of him wearing it). Seems Tpr. Stevenson was quite the lad and a wee bit of a trouble maker. I also didn't know that he was Sgt.George Drings driver in the desert. But we chat away and its great. Karl König is beside me, I also introduce myself and he is such a nice chap (for the enemy ha), he's from Hamburg and loves horses. The wine flows and everyone is chatting and milling about.
While I'm chatting to Karl I hear over my shoulder ' That's Stanley Christophersons daughter over there..' My heart skips a beat.
The COs daughter?!. My grandfather served in HQ squadron under him, I've always cherished the letter he wrote to my grandmother about her husband, I've read it over and over so many times in the last thirty years. Sorry Karl, Panzer vet or not, I'll talk to you later mate !!. I ask for a Ranger to introduce me to Sara-Jane Christopherson. No probs. And I shake her hand and explain myself. She is absolutely lovely and is as equally delighted to meet me as I am to meet her. Have you met Michael Golds family ,she asks pointing them out sitting beside us.?!
My head spins. Major Gold commanded B Squadron, he was an original in from the start, he'd been wounded in Geel, losing an eye, practically at the same time my grandfather was killed, a tank away. I'm introduced to his son and daughter, they are brilliant..we yap away, and they say, have you met Michael Parish's daughter Emma? She's sitting beside me. Oh hello, how are you?
Parish served with the Regiment from the start and was captured on Crete,escaping the Germans he evades them for three months living with goat farmers. She says Daddy wrote a book, I'll send you a copy.!! I got it two days ago!!..
We all chat away. Who is this funny Irishman who seems to know all about our fathers I'm sure they're thinking, but I don't care, between gulps of wine (English Wine!!) and bites of cold meats we exchange emails and have a laugh. I forget about my phone which is still charging behind Stevenson.
More food is served, the main course apparently. And a slide show about the history of the Regiment is shown and narrated by Col.Jonathon Hunt, lovely man.
I skip it and go out for air. I'm not the only one. There's a discussion in the hallway about how the serving members need to get involved more, and Crete seems like a good idea to get them to retrace the Regiments retreat from the enemy as part of their training. Its in the pipeline.
The event breaks up and we mount up slightly buzzing.
We drive to the town of Rots to visit the DDay Academy, a museum of sorts.
It is really a very big barn stuffed with all sorts of vehicles, weapons and even a cpl of plane wrecks. Its basically one mans collection. Its impressive.
Karl König poses with an MG34 for me while telling me about his second day in the desert.
A Hurricane flew down and strafed his tank. So.. "..I took the machine gun from zee mount and from zee hip I fire it at the fucking plane from on top of mein turret, and it blows me backwards to the ground off the tank, zee crew are under zee tank, they say, Konig you fool, don't fire at zee fucking plane , you will only bring attention to us. And so, it was my first experience!!"
There's only so many guns one can handle so myself and two Rangers walk into the village to find that famous alley way where the 12.SS were photographed just before they came up against the Canadians.
The place is so familiar it felt like we were there many tines before.
We take a few snaps and head back to mount up and then back to the hotel.
Its a free evening but most of us head back to the bar in Bayeux for eats and many lovely beers.
We have a great laugh and the lads make me feel like one of them.
What a day.... Twenty four hours after I first fall into my room, i do it a second time, on top of the world.
I was actually going to post this link here first - but then I noticed the ref. in it to "A" Squadron of the SRY and thought it might fit in an SRY "A" Squadron thread already on here... Then I actually read it and it does have more general SRY detail, as well as mentioning he went into "B" Squadron SRY during the European campaign. Apologies
There's a fairly extensive biography, with WW2 picture - of a Sherwood Ranger
- A Squadron - (Later "B" - edit - Rm) Trooper Thomas Harper -
....recently posted on Facebook here: The Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry 1939-1945
Ps. Just noticed - I think it says "A" squadron in Africa, but then posted to "B" Squadron SRY during the European campaign.
To accompany the Facebook pages at: The Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry 1939-1945
Karl has also set up the following Youtube channel: The Sherwood Rangers 1939-1945
This from the recent 2018 Chalke Valley History Festival:
Al Murray and James Holland Discuss Sherman Tanks – Chalke Valley History Festival
An approx. 5 mins film on the Sherman (the one here painted in the colours of the SRY's B Squadron tank "Lily Marlene")
This Stan Cox (SRY) interview transcript was recently (July 5th 2018) posted on the Wardgen.org site:
Stan Cox [Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry]
Recently seen on youtube:
"Former Enemies Best Friends Minidocumentary"
Published on 8 Dec 2018
The story of Charley Koenig, 21st Panzer Division, Africa Corps, and his friendship with the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry Tank Regiment Desert Rats he fought at the Mareth Line in Tunisia, March, 1943.
There's a bit of SRY in this...
BBC iPlayer - Lost Home Movies of Nazi Germany - Series 1: Episode 2
Around the 46min-47min mark - in Normandy etc.
"Christmas in Germany 1941 is an unsettling time. Food is scarce, the weather is freezing and news from the front line in Russia is causing Germans to realise the war is a very long way from over. The stage is set for the second half of the conflict.
Through the home movies and diaries of ordinary Germans, this film charts Hitler’s dreams crumbling and the moral reckoning the German people must now face. It reveals the stories of people battling to save their families from deportation to the death camps, while others endure the horrors of ever more deadly bombing raids, all set against a backdrop of propaganda and false hope pouring forth from Nazi high command.
In Russia we meet a doctor who throws himself into the firing line at every opportunity, not to win glory but to save his wife and three young children from deportation to the death camps in the east, while in Dresden a Jewish diary writer struggles to deal with ever-mounting restrictions and deportations.
We also meet some of those forced to live under German rule, including extraordinary footage of a group of Jews living in hiding just a mile from Anne Frank, and a family in Normandy enjoying a bucolic summer before they find themselves on the front line when the Allies take on the German troops on the Atlantic Wall.
The film then moves to the endgame of the war, the choices faced as the net tightened and the crazy efforts to fight to the bitter end even as all hope is gone."
See too: https://www.facebook.com/groups/4824022490/permalink/10157891630512491/
"Presented to Lt-Gen Brian Horrocks by the SRY Regiment upon their disbandment in January 1946. This leather bound book contains the signatures of 32 Officers and 538 ORs with several photographs showing the SRYs various roles in WW2, a photo of Horrocks and signed by him also. It also contains the original watercolour and ink drawings of the SRYs routes across North Africa and Europe drawn on board by Capt.Stuart Hills and pasted into the covers, these later were reprinted in the 1952 history book, a copy of which accompanied the book"
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