Number Two Company Normandy leg reconnaissance

By Second Lieutenant J Martin
April 2015

Untitled-1In April this year, Sergeant Johnson and I set off to Normandy with a fairly strong understanding of what we wanted to do, but as we know, all plans do not survive first contact.

Once we had landed continent side in Calais we took to the 4 hour drive along the coast to the Calvados region. The landscape today is patchwork quilt of conflicts past, the booming industrial modernisation and stunning green scenery. The first day we took the road north of Bayeux, winding along the country roads toward the costal village of Arromanches. As you climb through the village, the expanse of the beaches opens up and the only word that can be used is, unfathomable. As we drove along Gold and Sword beach, the mammoth undertaking and sacrifice that was made 70 years before becomes the ever more apparent. This is the exact response we were hoping for, as our main effort is that those involved in this leg understand what was given up and sacrificed by those serving in the Welsh Guards.

The following days we mapped out the second marathon along Utah and Omaha beaches to Arromanches and, crucially, the marathon that follows the Guards Armoured Division south towards Charles-de-Percy and Mont Pincon where Operation Bluecoat unfolded, and where the Welsh Guards were crucial, by dint of their offensive spirit and fighting power, in driving  through the staunch SS Panzer division, who held the high ground of Mont Pincon. To give the guys a day off we decided that we would have to “test” a beach buggy day to ascertain that it was suitably fun for when we returned in the summer.

Untitled-2The final days saw us meet with the extremely kind mayor of Charles-de-Percy where the Guards Armoured memorial stands, as well as the office of the mayor of Bayeux. To round off one of the most successful and enjoyable recce’s I have undertaken, we visited the cemetery in Bayeux where many Welsh Guards have been laid to rest. Poignant, thought provoking and moving, it tied everything we had done together with great purpose. Now back at battalion the wheels are firmly in motion for the summer and all of our training has got firmly underway.