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.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Extracts From The Orders For The Liberation of Le Havre

Extract of the orders issued detailing the manner in which First British Corps were to coordinate with the supporting Royal Navy ships anchored of the French coast during 'Operation Astonia', the action to capture the fortress town of Le Harve.

From FOBAA (Flag Officer British Assault Area)
To ANCXF (Allied Naval Commander Expeditionary Force)

August 1944


12.     Army intention is to attack from the North East by land not less than two days after the attack on Dieppe.

13.     The object of the bombarding forces will be to engage strong points and batteries holding up the advance of the Army as far as 10,000 yards inland (This is the line of static defences).

14.     ROBERTS would be anchored in a position already swept to the NE of Ouistreham.

15.     WARSPITE and MALAYA would be anchored in a position to the South of the Seine bank.

16.     The general plan is being made out by the First Canadian Army.

17.     Detailed plan of attack on Dieppe will be made by Second Canadian Corps.

18.     Detailed plan of attack on Havre will be made by First British Corps.

19.     It is proposed that the general planning should be carried out with the First Canadian Army by FOBAA and detailed Fire Plans by FOBAA with the appropriate Corps.

20.     It is presumed that operational orders for the force would be issued by ANCXF based on information as to Army plan to be supplied by FOBAA. An officer could be sent to the briefing as required.

21.     Control arrangements to be exercised by my staff through the Mobile Bombardment Control Unit, which will operate close to and in conjunction with the appropriate Corps HQ.

22.     Presumably I will be responsible for this force when off the French Coast. I would prefer to conduct the operation from one of the bombarding ships.

23.     The Havre operation would be conducted from my HQ ashore.

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