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, 14 February 2015

After the Battle Of Noyers

As described earlier, the prize of the village of Noyers was not delivered into British hands during the fighting of 16th to 19th July, but in terms of the overriding aim of Operation Pomegranate it was considered to be a successful action. The Battle had, as intended, drawn the enemy away from the Caen sector and the U.S. forces then looking to break out at the base of the Cotentin peninsula.

Throughout the Battle of Noyers the men continued to learn combat skills that were to be critical to their survival such as the importance of close collaboration between infantry and the supporting tank crews. Nevertheless, the casualty list was long and in all 59 Division recorded 1250 men killed, wounded or missing, a tally that mirrored the toll in the Battle for Caen earlier in the month.

The remainder of July was taken up with intense patrolling in the area. The full complement of the  three infantry brigades of 59 Division in the front line was achieved when 197 Brigade moved up to relieve 70 Infantry Brigade of the 49th (West Riding) Division in the area of Juvigny-Vendes on 21st July. The brigades of 59 Division each had two battalions in the line with one in reserve.

Under brigade command, squadrons of the 59th Recce Regiment moved into the line in order to allow the infantry to move into rest areas company by company. On 23rd July, 33 Armoured Brigade left the divisional area as 59 Division came under the command of XII Corps and 31 Tank Brigade came under the command of 59 Division.

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