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We Will Remember Them

This week we have remembered those who fought and died in the summer of 1944, both in Normandy and elsewhere.

Today, our cadets formed a guard of honour for veterans and other dignitaries who laid wreaths at the war memorial here in Stourbridge.

The ‘Great Crusade’, as General Eisenhower put it, is rightly remembered as the greatest amphibious invasion in history, characterised by ingenuity, deception, skill-at-arms, hard graft and luck.  Above all else, it is characterised by bravery.

Those few veterans who remain, remind us that they were as scared as the next man or woman but very much resolved to do their bit. Many of us will have family stories to share, and remembering these becomes even more important as the years go by.

We do not believe that any OSH old boys were killed during the Normandy campaign, but they were certainly there, just as they served in the other theatres of war in the summer of 1944.  William Charles Hill, of the Green Howards, was killed at Anzio just one week before D-Day. He was 22.  A month after D-Day, Commando Norman Bunn was killed during a special forces raid across the Adriatic on German troops stationed in Albania.  It is believed that the Albanian partisans he was supporting were compromised, and the Germans were prepared for the assault.  He was also 22 years old. Gunner William Downton died in August 1944 when the US Air Force Douglas C-47 Skytrain he was on crashed after an airdrop sortie to Burma. William was 26.

This generation would fight on for another year. Walter Wilde was one of these men, who fell in October 1944. Serving with the Hampshire Regiment, he had been training in Palestine, Lebanon and Syria before crossing into Italy via Sicily.  Walter, who was 27, was killed attacking a series of German defences known as the ‘Gothic Line’ as he and his comrades crossed the Rubicon.

His grave lies in the Coriano Ridge cemetary. The personal inscription on his gravestone is familiar to us all. It reads:

Ut prosim vince malum bono.

We will remember them.