Tuesday, 2 August 2011

27/07/2011 Road works on the Gallipoli Peninsula

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission report the following:

Over the coming months, a program of works will be conducted along Anzac Cove including the construction of a concrete gravity sea wall along the back of the beach through Anzac Cove which will protect the area and nearby headland cemeteries from the impact of the sea. The surface of the road above Anzac Cove will also be upgraded with proper drainage installed, and the surrounding land side slope will be landscaped.

These works will be carried out between July and December 2011. During this period there will be some disruption to access to the Anzac Commemorative site and surrounding roads.

From July until 8 October 2011 visitor access in the following areas will be affected:

  • Visitor access to the Anzac Commemorative Site (ACS) will be possible only via the northern entrance on roads through Bigali and Buyukanafarta villages.
  • There will be no visitor access along Anzac Cove Road to Brighton Beach Cemetary, Shrapnel Valley, Plugge’s Plateau, Anzac Cove and Ari Burnu. Shell Green will still be accessible via Artillery road from Lone Pine.
  • Second Ridge road will remain open to visitor access from Kabetepe with access to Lone Pine, The Nek and Chunuk Bair.

From 8 October until 2 December visitor access will be affected in the following areas:

  • There will be no visitor access to the ACS, Canterbury Cemetery, Commonwealth War Graves Commission cottages, No.2 Outpost Cemetery, New Zealand No. 2 Outpost Cemetery and Embarkation Pier.
  • Visitor access will be opened along Anzac Cove Road (from Kabatepe direction) to Brighton Beach Cemetery, Shrapnel Valley, Plugge’s Plateau, Anzac Cove, Ari Burnu and Shell Green.
  • Second Ridge road will remain open to visitor access (from Kabetepe direction), including to notable locations such as Lone Pine, The Nek and Chunuk Bair.

From 2 December until 27 December visitor access will be affected in the following areas:

  • Visitor access to notable locations along Anzac Cove Road from Embarkation Pier to Brighton Beach (including the ACS, Ari Burnu and Beach Cemetary) will be possible only via the northern entrance on roads through Bigali and Buyukanafarta villages.
  • Second Ridge road will remain open to visitor access (from Kabetepe direction), including to notable locations such as Lone Pine, The Nek and Chunuk Bair.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Third Annual Luncheon - The D Day Club

The Third Annual Luncheon of the D Day Club took place at Moor Park Golf Club near Northwood Middlesex on Sunday 5th June 2011. Over 50 invited guests attended a fund raising event to raise monies for the Spirit of Normandy Trust (SONT). Amongst those attending were a number of Guild members. The event was organised and chaired by Guild member Bob Darby.

GBG Members Willie Mohan with Alain Chissel MD Anglia Battlefield Tours and Anita Chissel

GBG Members L-R Frank Baldwin, Valmai Holt, Tonie Holt and James Dinsdale Treasurer of the D Day Club

The setting of Moor Park has historical significance as it was the Headquarters of the 1st British Airborne Corps. 6th British Airborne Division were part of the Corps and took part in the Normandy landings on the morning of the 6th June 1944. Previously owned by the Grosvenor family and requisition for war service the building fell into disrepair postwar. Recently restored to its original Palladian splendour the Mansion provided an excellent back drop to a splendid day.

GBG Member Keith Appleyard with Normandy Veteran Walter Hart

Of the dwindling band of Normandy Veterans we had three in attendance. Our Guest of Honour was Joe Ekins who as a tank gunner in Sherman Firefly destroyed three German Tiger tanks on the Falaise- Caen Road on the afternoon of the 8th August 1944, One of them being the tank commanded by Michael Wittman the German tank ace credited with over 150 tank kills including most of a British armoured column near Villiers-Bocage earlier on in the Normandy campaign.Other Veterans were Myer Malin formerly of the Royal Artillery who landed on D+2 on Gold Beach and Walter Hart RAMC.

In addition to those GBG Members shown above we also had in attendance Joe Hamon and Dermot Gallagher, a total of eleven Guild Members present.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Belgian Gates

Many will have seen the above in various small museums in Normandy. Known colloquially as 'Belgium Gates' they were used prior to D Day as beach obstacles along the Normandy coastline. However the original purpose of these large metal structures was as part an anti-tank defence line erected by the Belgians in 1940 to cover an area called the Gembloux Gap. It supposedly covered a gap between a number of water lines south of Wavre towards Namur on the Meuse.
The photo above purports to show a completed line of Cointet Gates (the correct name) south of Wavre. they were to form a continuous line and once in position riveted together and could not be moved by armoured vehicles. In the original plan there were to be up to 75,000 of these gates together with 'rail fields'. All to be covered with fire from anti-tank weapons and bunkered machine gun positions, with interlocking fields of fire. Unfortunately by May 1940 the construction had not been completed and there were many gaps in the line. Suffice to say German armour drove through the gaps!!

Above a drawing of a Cointet Gate with dimensions

German Engineers removing Gates across a road in southern Belgium. Some of the Gates would later be transported to the beaches of Normandy

Monday, 7 March 2011

Ranger Memorial - Pointe Du Hoc - Normandy

GBG Member Bob Hilton has just returned from a tour of Normandy and reports: It came as pleasant surprise to realise you can now get right up to the bunker with the Ranger Memorial on it. Even better you can walk around the front of the bunker and get a fantastic view along both sides of the Pointe.

I cannot recall ever being able to access the Pointe myself in over 20 years of guiding in Normandy. This has become possible due to a hugh investment by the American Battle Monuments Commission in stablising the cliff face on which the Memorial stands.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Cassel 26 - 27 May 1940

The withdrawal of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) saw a number of rearguard actions fought by British units which contributed enormously to the success of the evacuation of BEF and French troops from the beaches adjacent to Dunkirk and up to Nieuport in Belgium. One of the most significant actions was the defence of the hilltop town of Cassel. Set high above the Flanders plain within sight of Dunkirk, the town was occupied by 2nd Battalion the Gloucestershire Regiment ( 2nd Glosters) 4th Battalion the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (4th Ox and Bucks) with supporting units. It was a brave defence which held back German armour albeit for a brief period, but sufficiently long enough to allow many of the units within the BEF to withdraw to the beaches in relatively good order. Both battalions suffered heavy casualties and very few managed to escape capture.

On a recent visit to Cassel with GBG member Terry Webb we spent some time in the area looking for the location of various battle sites as detailed on the sketch map below. This was drawn by a Gloster officer Captain E Jones whilst in a German POW camp. It is drawn from his memory of the defence of the town. There was little information about the battle at the time as very few Gloster officers survived capture and therefore were unable to write up the normal post action reports. However, there is sufficient information on the sketch map to be able to locate some of the positions on the ground today.

This is the town square in Cassel around which the Glosters sited their defence. To the right across the square and just off picture was the Gendarmerie(Map No 4) used as the HQ for the 4th Ox and Bucks. The square is the middle square in the town being higher than the Grand Place but lower than the Chateau Square at the highest point of Cassel. The Chateau was also the HQ of 145 Brigade

Then and now a bank Credit Du Nord. This building was the HQ for the 2nd Glosters (Map No 3)

This farm was occupied by 10 Platoon B Company 2nd Glosters as part of the perimeter defence and was on the NW edge of the defence (Map No 6)Looking uphill towards Cassell main town as seen from the German perspective.

The view from the farm yard looking towards the NW and covering the road to Calais

The Chateau which was HQ for D Company 2 Glosters still stands but is now a Conference Centre with modern additions (Map No 7)

The view from the Chateau grounds looking out towards the SW and the road to St Omer