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SCM Fitzgerald and Coverers lead the CCF to Chapel at Winchester

FM the Lord Guthrie talks to Lady Langley and members of the congregation after the service

Gen Sir Simon Cooper inspects and talks to the Combined Cadet force at Winchester

Exercise DUNVILLE BLUECOAT

by Captain P G Ireland, The Blues and Royals

I

n September 2016, 60 soldiers from all HCR Squadrons attended a four-day battlefield study in Normandy, with the main focus being on the Operations GOODWOOD and BLUECOAT, including the breakout from Cavalry Bridge. We arrived the evening before taking the longer crossing from Portsmouth to Caen and settling in to our hotel. The next day was a trip to the Battle of Normandy Museum: this gave us all a chance to get an overview of the whole campaign. It was a great museum which had everything from a cinema

to displays with weapons and vehicles; so all avenues to capture our interest were catered for! Next was a visit to the beach at Plage De Graye Sur Mer, where 2 HCR landed on 13th July 1944. The landing was brought to life by our two regimental historians, Pete Storer and Jim Lees, who we were lucky enough to have on the trip. The beach was the mirror image of the artists’ impression from the HCR book. When you visit Normandy you visit Pegasus Bridge; and that’s exactly what we did, where our pockets were emp-

An artist’s impression of JUNO beach

tied by Madame Gondrée’s expensive café. We discussed the operation orders and the glider landings by the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry and how they took the bridge by surprise tactics and utter courage. Commonwealth War Graves are an important part of these visits. The sacrifice made by our men really hits home. Ranville cemetery was chosen as this is where two Royal Horse Guards volunteers’ graves are. Cpl Francis Arthur Reynolds’ and LCpl Kenneth Barnes’ moving citations were read and wreaths were laid whilst the remainder of the group observed two minutes of silence. After the collection of hotel-provided packed lunches (worse than Sodexho!) it was off to the Bourguebus Ridge. This is an area of land that General Montgomery aimed to capture under Operation GOODWOOD. Pete and Jimbo at this point bounced off each other with different historical facts, giving the students a chance to think about what they would have done tactically. The journey to the next part of the study covering Operation BLUECOAT gave us all a chance to notice the terrain 2 HCR faced and discover the meaning of the French word ‘bocage’. All you could see was pastureland divided into small hedged fields interspersed with groves and trees: good cover perhaps, but horrendous for manoeuvre. We arrived at the Museum La Percée Du Bocage; this unique museum only opens on request and they had organised local English

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Household Cavalry Journal 2016  
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