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Vol VII, No 9

Summer 2011

The Captain Class Fr igate Memor ial

Photo: W Clodd

In This Issue

Normandy – The first two days The March to the 70th

Editorial As you read this, the 67 th anniversary of the D-Day landings and the battle of Normandy will be upon us. It only seems a matter of weeks since we were commemorating the 66 th ! Time really does fly and we are heading towards that all important 70 th anniversary year. There is information from our Secretary Jack Woods regarding the Norwich Branch’s “March to the 70th” in this edition. This first Normandy Star of 2011 you wil notice is a bit slimline! Quite simply, the cupboard is bare, having exhausted my box of outstanding articles and items of interest. So may I please make an urgent appeal. Normandy Star is YOUR magazine, and for it to continue it needs your suppor t. Please give that support by submitting any stories, funny or sad, photographs, poems and items of interest to me, so that we can make the December 2011 edition a bumper one. T hank you, and best wishes to you all.

Paul and Sarah McAllister

The opinions expressed in the Normandy Star are t hose of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policy and views of the Norwich & District Branch of the Normandy Veterans Association All copy, articles etc. for inclusion should be sent to the Editor Editor – Paul McAllister 12 Millside, Stalham , Norwich, Norfolk, N.R12 9PA Tel (01692) 583336 Email: Website:


Branch Officers and Committee Members Nor mandy Veterans Association Nor wich & District (No.3) Branch Officers and Committee Members 2011


Veteran L W Mann

Vice Chairman:



Veteran J S Woods.

Committee Members:

(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)

Veteran F L Scott. Veteran S D Valori. Veteran J E Curson. Veteran L Fox. Mrs K Burge. Mr G Holmes.

Other Officers and Appoint ments Welfare Officer:

Veteran L W Mann.

Public Relations Officer:

Veteran J S Woods.

Assistant Secretar y:

Mrs S McAllister.

Social/Events Co-ordinator:

Mrs K Burge.

Standard Bearer/Parade Marshal:

Mr P McAllister.

Reserve Standard Bearers:

Mr M J Baker & Mr G V Claxton.

Editor, The Normandy Star:

Mr P McAllister.


Chairman’s Chat Chairman’s Annual General Meeting Report I am sure you are all as sorr y as I am that, owing to illness, Phil Johnson has been unable to continue as Chairman. Being the Vice Chairman, I took over the position as Acting Chairman. I would like to thank Secretar y Jack Woods for the help and advice he gave me, plus all the Committee Members for their co-operation, helping me with my duties as Acting Chairman. Our Secretary, Treasurer and all Committee members are doing a wonderful job helping our branch to operate so successfully.

I would like to thank the members w ho give up precious time, whatever the weather, to go out collecting, without these dedicated members, I’m afraid the concessions would not be able to continue for our outings and the Christmas lunch, as we would not have the money coming in. If there are any of you who could spare if only one hour, which would be for a maximum of four times a year, please come forward.

Best wishes and good health to you all for the future.

Len W Mann Chairman.


Secretary’s AGM Report Annual General Meeting 12th May 2010 Secretary’s report I have pleasure in submitting my repor t for the 66 h Anniversar y year 2010 On the 31st December, the membership stood at 271. Of those, 113 were Full members of which total 10 are Life members 157 were Associate members of w hich total 39 are wives of Full members 34 are Hon. Associate members (widows) and 1 Honorary Member (Patron). 7 members

died and

9 mem bers



of paying


subscriptions. Attendance at monthly meetings averaged 43, an increase of 7 on last year. This does not include figures for the Xmas lunch, which was heavily subsidised. The programme for the year included 6 committee meetings and 10 monthly meetings, one of which was the Annual General Meeting. On the 28th March we recorded the death of our Life President James S Hipwell. His funeral was private but a Celebration Service in his memory was held in St Peter Mancroft Church on the 3rd June. 6 Branch members attended and the Standard was paraded.. The social programme commenced in June with a return to Normandy from the 4 th to the 9th. During Armed Forces Week members attended the Flag Raising ceremony on the 21st June and entered an exhibit in the Forum on the 22 nd June. The NVA annual parade in Whitehall was attended by members where a


wreath was laid on the Cenotaph, returning home via the Green Man Six Mile Bottom for supper. On July 9 th members attended the 70th anniversary Service of Remembrance for Norwich Air Raid victims in St Peter Mancroft church. On the 18 th August members attended the Seaside Show on the Pier at Cromer. On the 24 th September members went on an outing to RAF Bircham Newton organised by Associate members Tony Nelson and

Mick Ayres ending with a visit to

Sandringham.. On the21st October, Len Fox attended a short ceremony at the Norwich War Memorial during which the caskets containing the names of the fallen were returned , On the 7 th November members attended a 70th anniversary concer t at the Theatre Royal Norwich by the Bands of the Royal Air Force. On Armistice Day a shor t service at the Norwich War Memorial was attended by members and on Remembrance Sunday members attended the service at Norwich War Memorial during w hich Len Fox laid the Branch wreath, followed by service in Norwich Cathedral. A wreath was laid by Er nie Chambers at the Memorial at Airfield Farm Topcroft. 70 members and friends attended the Xmas lunch in the Wallbro suite in the Holiday Inn Cramer Road. The Normandy Star continues to be issued free to members, the editor continuing to produce a high quality edition. Public liability was again arranged through the National Council. The collections programme was again most successful, the backbone of the fund-raising. 13 collecting days grossed ÂŁ5000 thus enabling our social programme to be subsidised. The members owe a debt to the dedicated band w ho continue to support the fund-raising effor t 5

The secretary again serviced the Books of Remembrance. These books are an important record of passed members and have to be treated accordingly. Entries may be viewed by contact with the secretar y. The administration depar tment has had its usual very busy year. Support from our assistant secretary Sarah is extremely impor tant in keeping things running smoothly. I do not to have to remind you of her input, most of you get it first hand. Once again I pay tribute to our lady members, what we do without them? Kitty Burge, Ber yl Johnson, Jean Chapman, Karen Browse Walker, Lynn Butler, Jane Horner, Mar garet Batley and all the other ladies w ho give their support. Schools attended included Stalham Junior, Geor ge White Junior


Hethersett Old Hall. Visits made under the schools initiative during the year, were mainly by John Curson, Siro Valori, Len Fox, myself and Len Mann. T hese visits are more important than ever as history is no longer on the curriculum in many schools . Finally, vote in the Branch Officers and Committee persons you want to manage the Branch for you and give them your wholehearted support throughout their year of office. We march on in comradeship, make the most of the rest of your lives, what have you got to lose. Good luck to you all and God Bless.

Jack S Woods Hon Secretary


Subscriptions Subscriptions for 2011 are now due. If you have not yet received your 2011 Membership Card, it is because you have NOT yet paid your subscriptions. Please do so As Soon As Possible in order to continue the benefits of membership. Rates for 2011 are £5 per person (£10 per couple).

All subscription monies to be sent to the Assistant Secretary, Sarah McAllister, at 12 Millside, Stalham, Norwich, Norfolk, NR12 9PA. Cheques made payable to “ NVA Norwich and District.” Membership cards will be sent out with your next copy of Normandy Star News or Normandy Star once monies have been received.

Lapel Badges Full colour enamelled lapel badges, produced by the Branch to celebrate the 67th Anniversary of Normandy, are now available. Costs are £2 each to Branch Members, £3 each otherwise, plus 50p postage/packing. They can be obtained from George Holmes, 169 Palgrave Road, Great Yarmouth, NR30 1QD. Tel: 01493 858319. Cheques made payable to “NVA Nor wich and Distr ict”


Blazer Badges The Branch is now able to supply Normandy Veterans Association blazer badges from its own supplier. These are full colour woven cloth, available for both Veteran and Associate members. We will not be holding a stock of these but can order as required, with delivery normally within two weeks.

To order your badge, please contact Paul McAllister, 12 Millside, Stalham, Norwich, Norfolk, NR12 9PA, Tel: (01692) 583336. Badges are £12.00 each, plus £1.00 postage & packing, cheques made payable to “ NVA Nor wich and District.”


From the Secretary’s chair The last secretar y's chair began by wishing you all a Happy New Year and here we are into May. The bad old winter has gone and we have better weather to warm our old bones. Talking of that sort of thing, we are of course getting older and sooner or later we will have to create a “Ninety's” Club It's a bit late for some of you of course we already have some of you at the grand old age, so why don't we make a star t, I know of Fred Wright, Reggie Burge and John Eastbury and later on this year, John Curson. How many more of you are out there, don't be shy, speak up and let's get a list going. Chair man T his year it was necessar y to appoint a new Chairman as our last Chairman, Veteran Philip Edward Johnson had to retire early owing to illness. Phil has been a good Chairman during his years of office and we're sorry that he has to stand dow n. Phil is a Life Member so he remains on the members list. Vice Chairman Veteran Len Mann filled the space until the A.G.M. when he was voted in as Chairman unopposed. We wish him a good Chairmanship during his period of office.

Nor mandy Very shortly a Branch party will be going back to Normandy. There will only be about 30 this time of which only 10 are Normandy Veterans. This is the way of things now, although there are a lot of Normandy Veterans still about, fewer are making the annual pilgrimage. Of course we all want to go back but there are drawbacks


such as general health, and affor dability. One major drawback is the cost of travel insurance. It has been found that a lot of the insurers either won't take the risk or if they do, up go the costs, which in many cases are in between ÂŁ100 and ÂŁ200 . Add that to the cost of the journey, together with the fact that most need a companion or carer call them what you will and you are looking at a lot of money. Another thing to consider is the pilgrimage factor. Returning Normandy Veterans will always go to visit their fallen comrades but w hat about those w ho accompany them, do they always want to re-visit War Grave cemeteries year in and year out? It is and will continue to be the policy of this Branch to make return visits enjoyable to everybody, Normandy Veteran or non Normandy Veteran. D- Day in Nor wich This year, as the Branch is in Normandy at the time, the Norfolk & Norwich ex-Services Association have taken over the arrangements for a service and wreath laying to take place on the day at the City War Memorial. T here will a Parade of Standards and a Service after which the Lord Mayor will lay a wreath on behalf of the City followed by a Branch wreath and wreaths from other sources. Members of the general public are also invited to attend and if they wish, to make their own contributions.

The cooperation of the ex-

services association is acknowledged and it is hoped that this will become the start of an annual event in the city calendar. March to the 70th.

The 70th anniversary year of the landings in

Normandy is getting closer. It threatens to be massive on both sides of the Channel. It is impossible to estimate how many Normandy Veterans 10

will be able to take par t in the celebrations which will inevitably take place, but those who are able will take a most impor tant role. In accordance with our March to the 70 th policy, the Branch collection pro gramme will be adjusted

in order

to allow some of our Normandy

Veteran members their costs, availa bility and affordability are the operative words w hich come to mind. Associate Members Norwich Branch welcomes Associate Members. As our veteran membership diminishes, (which won’t be for some time yet, so don’t panic) the Associate members will be essential to support the remainder. They can be “the wind beneath our wings”. This Branch will continue to exist while there are Normandy Veteran members needing it. Whitehall A Branch party will visit Whitehall this year. It will consist mainly of non Normandy Veterans. T his is because it is the Branch policy to encourage non veterans to take part in Branch activities. It helps to keep the Branch strong

to the benefit of it's remaining

Normandy Veteran members. This Branch

has no intention closing

down as ha ve so many other Branches leaving it's remaining veterans “in limbo.” Collect ions

are as always an important of the Branch calendar of

events. The March to the 70 th programe will need money to subsidize it and income from this source will be used to do so. Again if you feel like giving some time to this activity, have a word with Sarah and she will organize something for you. 11

On the welfare front, the Branch committee will do its utmost to help and assist members needing suppor t. Again you can help. A visit to a sick comrade (that is if they want to see you?) can help no end. Associations like S.S.A.F.A Forces Help,

Spirit of Normandy Trust,

Veterans Agency, Royal British Legion etc can all be contacted through the secretar y’s office but in many cases a visit from you might be all that they need. Public relations Always the most important job, but the next few years will be most important. Contacts will be made through the Press, Veterans agency, Royal British Legion, News, Normandy Memoir etc., Fliers

Normandy Star, Normandy will be produced as to our

activities etc. How can you help? Mostly by being supportive, by being a comrade to others, by keeping yourselves as fit as possible, by having a positive attitude to what remains of your lives and by Marching with us to the 70th.

Jack S Woods Hon Secretary & Treasurer


Collections Programme 2011 The Collections programme for 2011 is now underway. These street collections are an essential part of the Branch fund-raising activities, monies raised subsidise trips and e vents and ensure that the Branch is financially healthy in the years ahead.

Our dedicated team of collectors is dwindling and new volunteers are needed. Not only will you be carrying out the vital task of collecting, you will be acting as an ambassador for the Normandy Veterans Association, giving the public the opportunity to meet and talk with Veterans, something w hich is enjoyed by both Veteran and Public alike.

If you can spare an hour or two throughout the summer to help with the Street collections, please contact Sarah McAllister, 01692 583336, to put your name down. Thank you. FORTHCOM ING COLLECTIONS FOR 2011

JULY Thursday 14 July : Sainsburys, Pound Lane, Norwich. AUGUST Thursday 25 August:Tescos, Lowestoft.


The Collections Team at Cromer, March 2011, L-R : Reg Milford, Margaret Dickinson, George Gallagher, Trevor Opher, Donald Dolby

This small and dedicated band of collectors raised over ÂŁ55 0.00 at Morrisons, Cromer, a superb effor t. Thank you and well done to you all.

Photo: R Milford


The March To The 70th After the 65th anniversary of the landings in Normandy, it was decided to enter into a rolling pilgrimage to Normandy annually culminating after the 70th anniversary. This was not going to be an easy under taking owing to the dwindling numbers of Normandy Veterans available and able to travel. Those willing to do so have the extra problem of comprehensive travel insurance plus the need for carers or personal escor ts. Some time ago, while speaking to Trevor Beattie, he stated that if there was only 1 veteran wanting to return to Normandy both he and Eddie Iizzard would be willing to take him.

Again some time ago I personally issued a series of documents entitled “ Normandy and the Normandy Veteran “ in which I set out my vision for future of the Normandy Veteran in Normandy post Normandy Veterans Association. In it I stressed the impor tance of somewhere central to be situated in Normandy where small family groups returning on pilgrimage could find out exactly what, if anything, was happening there during their stay where they w ould be able to take part and more importantly where the Normandy Veteran in the group, especially if is his first return,

could find assistance as to where to find the right

places for him to visit; cemeteries where his comrades lay, places where actively served etc. Last year, the during the 66 th anniversary year, traveling with the 15

Branch party was a Normandy Veteran accompanied by a younger friend as carer. He was not only able to take part in the Branch itinerary but also able to visit a Commonwealth War Graves cemeter y of his choice to lay a wreath at a comrade's grave, an emotional experience for everybody there. Again, a lady traveling with the same party was able visit her father's grave for the first time. T his year the Norwich Branch has assisted a family group w here the Veteran concer ned is making his first return since he landed on Sword Beach on D-Day, again wanting to visit places special to him, something this branch will always be willing to assist as and when it can

Norwich Branch's vision for the future is that small family groups will return for many years, traveling on their own or as part of organized commercial holiday groups. These groups operate their ow n standard itineraries which don't necessarily have to be followed, but small groups wishing to ” do their own thing “ may most information and support to do so.

likely need

Norwich & District Branch will

endeavour to assist any Normandy Veteran singly or par t of a family group needing help to return to Normandy on pilgrimage It will also continue to wor k har d to bring about its “vision for the future”. You never know; miracles sometimes happen. If you wish for any more information concer ning this document, or any other document personally issued by the Branch Secretary please contact Veteran Jack S Woods 50 Aylsham Road Norwich Nor folk NR3 3ES UK. Tel: 01603-627706. e.mail:


Normandy – The first two days Concluding Frank Wright’s moving account o f his experiences during the capture of Port-en-Bessin Captain Walton selected about a dozen of us armed with rifles or brens and explained that we were about to put dow n covering fire on a German flakship which was moored in the outer harbour whilst an assault team ran round the sea wall to capture the ship. T he leading men crawled forward along the cliff to the left. There was no cover. We followed, out into the wind and sun where the whole world could see us. There, below, was the flakship in the harbour, grey and sinister-looking it bristled with ack-ack guns mounted forward, mid-ships and aft. There was no one on deck nor on the quay nor as far as I could see, anyw here else. Beyond the harbour wall a British destroyer waited but further out, where I expected to see fleets of support vessels there was nothing. I looked behind, up the slope and was shocked to see six or seven of our lads lying, obviously dead, on the hillside just behind our position where they had been caught by shell-fire from the flak-ship.

It was hot now. “German flakship at one hundred yards. In your own time - FIRE!" Captain Walton yelled from his end of the line of men. We began banging away at the flakship. Taffy Evans with his bren was on my left, I heard it give an occasional stutter. If he fired long bursts of course we'd be out of bren ammunition in no time. I could see out of the corner of my eye that he had to lift the butt of the gun very high to get the right angle of fire. That meant that he was very exposed. I fired


a few rounds at targets which I selected for myself on the ship - well, no-one would be using it again would they? T hen realised that we ourselves were under fire, from where? I kept my head dow n, cheek close to the rifle butt and elbows well apart - fired again ~ yes, there it was again, the crack of a rifle bullet and a faint w hisper, then another crack and a tiny shower of seeds fell on the forearms of my battledress from the lank, dry grass in which we lay. I fed another clip or rounds into the magazine of my rifle and pushed the bolt home, realising as I did so that I hadn't heard Taffy's bren for some seconds. I looked quickly at him. Taffy was dead. He lay on his left side as if sleeping, eyes closed, right hand still clasping the butt of his gun. A tiny wisp of vapour rose from his neck by the tunic collar. Another crack, more seeds, I thought "I'm going to die here, now and won't know a thing about it, please God, help me get out of this!� Still no sign of life from the flakship nor any sign of the assault party. "Stop firing!" came the order and, thankfully "W ithdraw� We crawled swiftly back to the safety of the wall. Captain Walton sent Corporal Lawrence back to fetch Taffy's bren, Shock Kendrick went too. It wasn't long before they were back and we set off at once dow n a steeply cobbled street with fishermens' cottages on the right and a high wall on the left. The sniper was still busy, keeping us pinned on the left. At one point, about half way dow n, the street turned slightly to the left and we had to nip across to the shelter of the cottages. As each man crossed there was a crack and a bullet w ould ricochet up the hill from the cobbles. He was firing low, fortunately. Marine Musgrave was the man in front of me. When he was half way across there was a crack and he 18

yelped, then came hopping back to the wall, cursing. It was my tur n to go. I hesitated, heard Hugh Corlett's voice - "Go on Wrighty" he said. The sniper was impatient, he put a round into the top of the wall above our heads, showering us with grit and bits of broken cement. I nipped smartly across. We made our way to the inner harbour which was surrounded by a wide quayside similar to many in cornwall. As we marched up the typical smells of a fishing por t replaced those of cordite and deat h on the hill. Now it was stale fish, gauloise and garlic.

I was astonished to see men sitting about ever ywhere eating hot food first hot meal for tw o days - and quite flabbergasted at the sight of one of our fifteen hundredweight trucks complete with the rotund figure of our Quar termaster, Captain T unnicliffe. Nearby was a field kitchen, petrol burners roaring away heating dixies full of stewed steak, potatoes, vegetables, steamed pudding and boiling water for tea.

It's when you meet the men from the other troops that you hear news, mostly bad. We heard how Captain Cousins, of A troop had been shot dead whilst accepting the surrender of the eastern strongpoint. T hen how a German counter-attack had overr un hill 72 as the last men were leaving. "You can expect them here by this evening," we were told, darkly. I said nothing about the pointless and ultimately tragic manoeuvre in w hich we had j ust taken part. It was sometime before the numbers in the square began to thin out. But eventually they began to fall in and move off. X troop was last to go. We marched back by the 19

way we had come, through the streets to the bottom of the hill, then up the long cobbled street, past the point where Musgrave had been wounded. The sniper was silent now, all was quiet, heads were beginning to pop out of doors and windows. We marched, rifles slung on shoulders past the stone wall and out onto the steep slope where we had crawled so cautiously two hours earlier. This time we spread out, line abreast, facing up the hill. Behind us was the outer har bour and the flakship, Taffy Evans still lay there asleep. We fixed bayonets and slowly walked up the hill towards the slit trenches on the crest.

My way took me past the line of our boys on

the hill, it was so exposed, they hadn't stood a chance - sitting tar gets for the eager gunners on the flakship. The ground was pock-mar ked with shallow shell craters. A British steel helmet lay there with a jagged hole where shrapnel had torn through the metal crown. T he Corporal still led his men up the hill. He lay on his back, a shock of bright ginger hair, his blue eyes stared past me unseeing, where the grease paint had r ubbed off his skin was the colour of marble. I recognised him at once. Beyond the harbour wall the destroyer still watc hed and waited in the sun and across the horizon was a continuous line of ships. We walked on up the hill in silence, bayonets at the ready. Near the rounded summit were the first trenches, dug deep into the chalk. They were empty and we jumped across - and the next line and the next and we were over the crest and walking on to open fields and the rolling countryside beyond‌.


Obituaries It is with deep regret that we record the passing of the following Veterans and branch members.

Veteran R W Lambert Corps of Royal Engineers Our sincere condolences are sent to the families of all those who have passed to the green fields and beyond. At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, We will remember them.

Roll of Members Updates

Deletions from the Roll of Members Mrs J M T horpe (Resigned) Mr J H Holmes (Resigned) Col. H L Carey (Resigned) Mrs P Ford (Resigned) Mrs S Potter (Resigned) Mr C S Maddock (Resigned) Mr R W Lambert (Deceased) Please ensure that the Secretary is informed of any changes of address, telephone numbers etc, so that Branch records may be kept up-to-date.


Donations Thanks are due to the following individuals who have kindly donated to branch funds; Mr & Mrs Barrett

Mr M C Beames

Mr F L Bellamy

Miss J L Brock

Mr K D Budgen

Mr & Mrs R Butcher

Mr E Ducker

Mr R Duesbury

Mr A E Figg

Mr & Mrs Finch

Mr & Mrs R Gill

Mr B J Hale

Mr W D Irwin

Mr B A Lammas

Mr & Mrs J Lee

Mr B Marchant

Mr J Nunn

Mr C S Perry

Mr C Pollard

Mr G Sayer

Mrs J Timbers

Mr J G Thomas

Mr F A Wright

Poetry He stood a dauntless figure, prepared to meet his fate Upon his lips a kindly smile, one arm around his mate His free hand held a picture of one he loved most dear And though the hand was trembling it was not caused by fear.

No braver man e’er faced death before a firing squad Than stood that day upon the square and placed his trust in God He drew himself up proudly and faced the leering foe His rugged face grew stern, I ask one favour e’re I go. Grant unto me this last request that’s in your power to give


For myself I ask no mercy but let my comrade live Then turning to the guardhouse w here his sad faced Colonel stands A witness to his pending fate brought here by Jap command.

He stiffened to attention his hand swings up on high To hat brim in swift salute, I’m ready now to die They murdered him in hatred prolonged his tor tured end In spite of all his pleading they turned and shot his friend. They said he was an example of what they had in store For others w ho attempted escape w hilst prisoners of war Examples yes,of how to die and how to meet ones fate Example tr ue, of selfless love a man has for his mate. And when he reaches heavens gate the angels will be nigh And welcome to their midst a man who knew the way to die Whilst here below in letters gold, the scroll of fame e’er shall tell The stor y of how they died, a Corporal and his pal.

Author unknown Submitted by George Holmes


Programme of Events 2011 JULY

Wed 13 Jul

Social Meeting, RBL Centre, Aylsham Rd, Norwich.



Fri 5 Aug

Committee Meeting, RBL Centre, Aylsham Rd, Norwich


Wed 10 Aug

Social Meeting, RBL Centre, Aylsham Rd, Norwich.



Wed 14 Sep

Social Meeting, RBL Centre, Aylsham Rd, Norwich.



Fri 7 Oct

Committee Meeting, RBL Centre, Aylsham Rd, Norwich


Wed 12 Oct

Social Meeting, RBL Centre, Aylsham Rd, Norwich.




Wed 9 Nov

Social Meeting, RBL Centre, Aylsham Rd, Norwich.

Sun 13 Nov

Remembrence Sunday



Fri 2 Dec

Committee Meeting, RBL Centre, Aylsham Rd, Norwich


Wed 14 Dec

Christmas Lunch – Details to follow


Programme of events is subject to update and change where necessary


Your Normandy Star Needs


Please send your Poems, Stories and Photos to the Editor 26

NS Vol VII No9  

The official publication of the Norwich and District Normandy Veterans Association