GUNNER JESSE BROOK
GUNNER JESSE BROOK: 14373339, 191st (The Hertfordshire and Essex Yeomanry) Field Regiment. Son of Willie and Alice Brook, Moldgreen, Huddersfield. Aged 40, he died on 21 July 1944 and is buried in the Ranville War Cemetery, nr. Caen, Normandy, France.
Felix: 21 July 1944: “… Normally I had been in the habit of bedding down in the bivouac next to its entrance in case I was needed in the night but, when I returned on July 20th, the crew were in bed and Gnr. Jesse Brook (my storeman) was in the position I would have expected to occupy. Rather than disturb him I decided to get in where I could, which happened to be next but one to him.
Shortly after midnight all hell was let loose. I woke with a start. There was complete confusion. I hadn’t even discovered where our bolt-hole trench had been dug, and there was no moon. We were not permitted to use lights under any circumstances, so all I could do was to follow the other members of the crew to the trench, about 10 yards away. After a few minutes, when I had become accustomed to the darkness and things had quietened down, I decided to call the roll.
To my consternation, when I called out the name Brook there was no reply, and I had a feeling that something serious had happened to him. I went back to the bivouac and found him lying on his back. The jugular vein in his neck had been severed and there was no sign of life. …”
LANCE BOMBARDIER DENIS BELL
LANCE BOMBARDIER DENNIS BELL: 14358253, 191st (The Hertfordshire and Essex Yeomanry) Field Regiment. Son of Alfred and Elsie Lilian Bell, of Washingborough, Lincolnshire. Aged 21, he died on 21 July 1944 and is buried at the La Delivrande War Cemetery in Douvres, Normandy, France.
Felix: 21 July 1944: “… B.S.M. Griffith contacted me and asked if I would help him take L/Bdr. Denis Bell, the Battery Clerk, to the Regimental Aid Post, as he had been badly hurt. I needed attention myself and had no idea where the R.A.P. was so it seemed a sensible thing to do. We lifted Denis, who had been put on a stretcher, on to the top of the B.S.M.’s Jeep and began a nightmare journey to the Medical Officer, whose post was situated near the church in the village. Without lights we trundled along a rough track which led to the village. At one point the vehicle, with its top-heavy load, nearly overturned, and we were challenged by men from another unit en-route, who were on guard near the village.
We eventually arrived at the R.A.P., where I remained for attention after L/Bdr Bell had been looked at. The Medical Officer soon realised that his wounds were far too serious to be dealt with on the spot and he needed immediate hospitalisation. …”
FREDERICK WALTER HOLLAND
FREDERICK WALTER HOLLAND: 1524716, 191st (The Hertfordshire and Essex Yeomanry) Field Regiment. Son of Henry and Lily Holland, husband of Lydia Agnes Holland, of East Ham, Essex. Aged 24, he died on 27 July 1944, and is buried at Ranville Cemetery, nr. Caen, Normandy, France.
WILLIAM JOHN ROBERT DUDLEY
WILLIAM JOHN ROBERT DUDLEY: 14367163, 191st (The Hertfordshire and Essex Yeomanry) Field Regiment, Royal Artillery. William was a son of George Dudley and his wife Alice (nee Hartley), of Cheadle, Cheshire. Aged 20, died 1 September 1944 and he is buried in Saint Desir War Cemetery at Saint-Desir, Departement du Calvados, Basse-Normandie, France.
“… We rested for 48 hours at Routot and, on 31st August, the Regiment was ordered to support the 4th S.S. Commando Brigade, whose intention was to carry out reconnaissance on the east bank of the Seine. It was decided to make a ferry crossing at Duclair, using storm boats and rafts but unfortunately the tidal bore was very strong at that time and the first jeep on a raft toppled into the river and one of 534 Battery’s signallers, Gnr. Dudley, was drowned. The plan was then scrapped and the 2nd i/c of the Regiment was ordered to recce up stream until he found a suitable means of crossing the river. …”
It is said of William that he was “the sunshine of his family and when he walked in the room he lit it up”. William’s mother, Alice, never recovered from losing him.
NORMAN HARRY BOTTOMS
NORMAN HARRY BOTTOMS: 914849, 147th (The Essex Yeomanry) Field Regiment. Aged 23. Son of Harry and Margaret Bottoms, of Colchester, Essex. He died ‘D-Day’ 6 June 1944 and is buried at Bayeux War Cemetery, Bayeux, Normandy, France. [N.B. Felix Roland Johnson was not with the 147th on ‘D’-Day but Norman Harry Bottoms was a fellow Essex Yeoman and group pilgrimages to France would always include paying respects to him.]
[N.B. Felix Roland Johnson was not with the 147th when it landed in Normandy ‘D-Day’ but Norman Harry Bottoms had been a fellow Essex Yeoman and joint 147th/191st pilgrimages to France would often include paying respects to him. HAJ]