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.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Operation Charnwood - The Allies

3rd Canadian Division

Positioned on the right flank of the assault.

A formation that landed on Juno beach on 6th June, by the close of D-Day, the 3rd Canadian Division had made the furthest advances into occupied France of any of the landing formations and it's D-Day objectives were secured on 7th June.

In the first week of Overlord the 3rd Canadian faced the 12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend in the environs of Carpiquet and inflicted considerable damage to their armour. On 4th July, the Division participated in Operation Windsor prior to the commencement of Operation Charnwood.

59 (Staffordshire) Division

Positioned in the centre of the line in front of the northern suburbs of Caen.

A follow-up formation described at length on this site.

3rd Infantry Division

Positioned on the left flank of the assault.

Also informally known as the 'Iron Division', like the 2/6th South Staffordshire Battalion, the 3rd Infantry Division had been part of the British Expeditionary Force that was evacuated from the beaches of Dunkirk in late May/early June 1940.

The 3rd Infantry Division returned to France, landing on Sword Beach on 6th June and despite advancing 5 miles inland by the end of D-Day, German resistance halted the attack some three miles from the day's objectives of Caen and Carpiquet.

Memorial in Caen commemorating the D-Day landing of the 3rd Infantry Division and the role it played in the liberation of Caen on 9th July 1944 in Operation Charnwood
(Photograph: Nick-D)

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