Along with soldiers from the Tidworth based 43 Wessex Brigade. and veterans from the Second World War 43rd Wessex Division, Prince Edward remembered the sacrifices of those who fought in the Battle for Hill 112 at a service in Normandy this week.
As part of the 70th anniversary commemorations of the battle, 43 Brigade have spent four days in Normandy retracing the steps of the 43rd Division from the conflict 70 years ago, as part of Operation Jupiter and the Normandy D-Day landings. The culmination of the four day anniversary events saw The Earl of Wessex pay a visit; Edward stood on and watched as the soldiers, veterans and a group of schoolchildren performed a march past. The Earl also paid his respects by laying a memorial wreath at a Hill 112 monument.
The 43 Brigade also met with veterans and their families, as well as the people of Normandy, to remember those who lost their lives in order to rid France of German occupation prior to Prince Edward’s visit.
The 43rd Wessex Division landed in Normandy on June 24th 1944, and they continuously fought until the German surrender in April 1945; they suffered the most losses of the entire campaign, with nearly 12,000 killed, wounded or missing in action.
The commemorative party that gathered in Normandy this week was made up of soldiers from The Royal Wessex Yeomanry, 226 Battery, Royal Artillery Bristol, 4 Rifles, 43 Brigade and 1 Artillery Brigade, who are both based at Tidworth. They all attended a service of remembrance at the Banneville Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery, where all of the soldiers were given crosses to place on various graves.
The Act of Remembrance was read by Rifleman Stefan Lynes who also commented, “It has been an emotional experience seeing the veterans together. There was a connection between them and us- once a soldier always a soldier”.
At the beginning of June, members of the Royal Family, including Her Majesty The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, were in Normandy to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the D-Day Landings. Events attended at that time included a commemoration on Sword Beach, a remembrance service at Bayeux Cathedral and a veterans tea party in Arromanches.
photo credit: Yate Armadillo via photopin cc