The intentions to document this information are long standing in that they go back some two decades to the early/mid 1990’s, just a few years before the subject of this site, James Kitchener Heath passed away.

As is the case in so many families in which a generation experienced war and all its traumas, certain aspects of service are known, but all too often the details are sketchy and disjointed. Add into this mix the passage of time and the result is invariably a collection of stories and fragments of memories accompanied by a handful of fragile and faded documents (if you are lucky) that represent the sum of information relating to the most extraordinary period in a soldier’s life. This was certainly the case in our family..... and it’s not much to go on.

In February 1995, my Father and I struggled to put together a potted service history to be read by the cleric presiding over my Grandfather’s funeral. At this point I decided to take steps to fill in some of the gaps as best I could.... sadly now without the benefit of first hand testimony.

A well known turn of phrase, ‘written on the back of a fag packet’ is defined by the Collins on-Line dictionary as something ‘composed or formed quickly and without detailed analysis or research’. As far as first hand source material for this history is concerned, no better a description could be made. The details gleaned from my Grandfather in brief (and often emotional) discussions in the 1990’s are summarised as a list of place names written in an old man’s shaky handwriting on the back of a standard envelope! (this will feature later). On the upside, a standard envelope is approximately twice the size of a cigarette packet, which immediately doubles the amount of information to work with!

By my own admission, this site is a little self-indulgent, being of primary interest to myself, my mother, my children and a handful of relatives still living in Staffordshire. In addition, it may be that the information presented here will be read by others outside of the family who have a passing interest in military or family history.

I would welcome any comments/suggestions or dare I say it relevant information to contact me.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

The Longest Day…. 6th June 1944

Before sharing some of my recent experiences in Normandy, it goes without saying that I paid keen interest in the events of last week that marked the 70th anniversary of the execution of ‘Operation Overlord’. Much of the footage I have to admit, I had to watch on my own, on account of welling up with each new tale that was told.

But one special mention needs to be given to Mr Bernard Jordan who absconded from his care home in Hove, East Sussex when he realised that he was too late to get there via an organised trip in order to be with comrades for possible the last time.

Mr Bernard Jordan, 89, and a man who knows his own mind!

It’s a great story and one which in a rather unusual way captures something of the spirit of the men who first made that same perilous journey in 1944. Mr Jordan has vowed to be there next year too, I trust that a limo will be laid on for him this time around!

His adventure is recorded here.

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