On this day (26th) of June 1944 my Grandfather, James Heath, realised the culmination of four and a half years intensive training across the length and breadth of the United Kingdom when he and his comrades in the 5th Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment landed on Gold beach in Normandy.
This was the first day of ten months of active service in which he experienced fierce close quarters combat with the 5th South Staffordshires and thereafter with the 11th Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers. He was involved in the fighting which saw the Allied forces break out of Normandy and subsequently drive the Germans back across France, through Belgium, into Holland and eventually into Germany,
I wanted to mark this landmark anniversary today and I raise a glass of Pinot Grigio to my Grandfather, to each and everyone of his fellow soldiers of the 5th South Staffordshire Battalion and the entire 59 (Staffordshire) Division on this their day of reckoning.
As a follow-up formation, he may have been overlooked in the recent commemorations of the 6th June, but the contribution and the sacrifices that were made by the soldiers of the 59th in the cauldron that was Normandy is recognised and appreciated.
From Baker's Assistant to a battle hardened solider of the British Army, Jim Heath fulfilled that dread task of any generation and took up arms for King and Country. In doing so, he played a small but vital role in the monumental task of ridding Europe of Nazi tyranny. It is thus with great pride that I am recounting this 'fragmented' history in 2014, a very poignant year that sees both the 70th anniversary of D-Day and the start of the liberation of Europe, but also what would have been his 100th year.
More details of the immediate preparation for embarkation and the landing will follow tomorrow.