‘Reports From The Front Line’ – Commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the Normandy Landings

Yesterday many across the world commemorated the 75th Anniversary of the Normandy landings. Often referred to as D-Day, the Allied Invasion of Normandy during World War II was the largest seaborne invasion in history and laid the foundations of the Allied victory on the Western Front.

Members of the Athenaeum and the Alexandrian’s of Merseyside, including the Lord Lieutenant of Merseyside, Mr Mark Blundell DL and former Lord Lieutenant Dame Lorna Muirhead DCVO, DBE, CSTJ, DL gathered at the Club for lunch to remember the occasion.

Further afield we were fortunate enough yesterday to be receiving reports from the front line by our own correspondent, Graham Burgess. Graham took part in a commemorative walk in Normandy with the Royal Marines, retracing the route taken by his father’s unit on that day 75 years ago – Royal Marines 4th Special Service Brigade.  Our thanks to Graham for sharing these bulletins, giving an insight into this Brigade’s journey, in what were some of the most important days in recent history.

  1. 07:32 – Landings began at Gold Beach, Jig Sector, by Royal Marines 4th Special Service Brigade. Heavy Fire from blockhouse and machine gun posts. Heavy Casualties. Much Equipment destroyed. Hand to hand fighting. Beach no yet cleared.
  2. Heavy shelling onto beach and at approaching landing craft. Mortars firing constantly.Heavy equipment losses very heavy. Block house on beach holding out. Very heavy fighting here. No tanks have landed successfully yet.
  3. Small breakthrough in beach defences made at 9:30. Advancing to rear. Heavy shelling and machine gun fire. HMS Fury has moved in shot giving direct supporting fire.
  4. Small groups are infiltrating behind defences. Blockhouse on beach causing heavy damage to approaching vessels. Still no tanks. Crossroads 300 yards from beach occupied preventing enemy reinforcements access to beach.
  5. Moving out of Asnelles towards Rodeo.
  6. At Pint, 2 miles inland of Le Hamel. Taking fire from bunkers on hill at Arromanches. Advancing towards rear Arromanches
  7. Grid Reference 01595 – 37704. La Carrefour. Light resistance, small garrison surrendered.
  8. Preparing to attack Point 54. With Dorset Regiment. Hidden bunkers encountered. Heavy machine gun fire.
  9. Point 54 taken. Les Mont de Ryes. 1 killed, several RM light wounds. 7 enemy killed 24 captured. Further bunkers in tree line under attack towards Arromanches.
  10. Moving on La Rosiere
  11. Approaching Tracy-sur-mer
  12. Attacking La Rosiere. The Assembly Area for 4th Special Service Brigade. During the approach an enemy officer on horseback rode up and demanded the Royal Marines surrender. He was shot dead. Heavy fighting house to house in village. Stubborn resistance.
  13. Heavy fighting at La Rosiere. An enemy convoy intercepted at crossroads. Captured vehicles weapons, troops. During that attack the diversion was used to mount an assault on village. Enemy surrender. 20 prisoners taken. 1 RM killed, 11 wounded
  14. Heading north from La Rosiere
  15. Passing inland of Longues-Sur-Mer. Just captured enemy Sgt Major on bicycle heading to meet his girlfiend in a brothel at Ouistreham. Reached Abbeye de Longues just south of Longues-sur-mer. Monks have thrown open their abbey for wounded. Several wounded by shu mines outside village. Intermittent fire from Longues sur mer. Re-arming and replenishing ammunition.
  16. Fire fight near La Buherrie. Brief opposition overcome. No casualties
  17. Chateau le Busq. Believed to be enemy communications centre. Found to be refugee centre for Spanish Fascists.
  18. Objective in sight. Port en Bassin Heavy fire from both sides.
  19. Probing towards Port en Bassin. Several hidden bunkers, trench system, and 2 flak ships moored in port. Flak ships laying down heavy cannon fire. Responding with own heavy machine guns. Port heavily defended
  20. Capture of Escures just inland of Port en Bassin Three troops assaulting Port en Bassin.  Two troops laying down fire on flanks. Royal Navy bombarding Port fir one hour. Air attack by Typhoons timed for time of assault.
  21. Outside western Port en Bassin a bayonet charge over 200 yards of open ground by 20 Royal Marines broke through enemy defences allowing entry into port area.
  22. Beg to report Port en Bassin has surrendered