Casa Berardi: Italy VC Action 1943

The Casa Barardi was a huge stonewalled farmhouse on the western approaches to the coastal town of Ortona. In December 1943 the Eighth Army had crossed the Sangro River and were advancing on Ortona with the 1st Canadian Division leading the way. The Canadians had one assault following the coastal road and another swinging in…

Maisy Battery, Normandy

The Maisy Battery is a privately owned museum in Normandy located between Omaha and Utah beaches in the American D-Day sector. It was a substantial gun battery site equipped with howitzers which could fire onto both beaches and posed a serious threat in the early days of the Normandy invasion. It was bombed from the…

Escoublac-la-Baule War Cemetery

I visited this cemetery as part of a recent recce trip to Saint Nazaire as this is where the Commandos who died in Operation Chariot are buried. It is located near to the Escoublac airfield in what is now the middle of a housing estate, but as with all Commonwealth war cemeteries it is a…

Arracourt Sherman Tank

The Battle of Arracourt in September 1944 is something of a forgotten battle of WW2. Arracourt is a village in eastern France where the US Army had been advancing since the liberation of Paris in the summer of 1944. While Operation Market Garden was taking place in Holland, to the Allies surprise the Germans proved…

U Boat Pens, Saint Nazaire

The German U-Boat fleet which fought in the Battle of the Atlantic during the Second World War operated out of a number of bases on the French coast which included Saint Nazaire. Immortalised in the film Das Boot, casualties among the Kriegsmarine who operated the U-Boats were high: a staggering 3 in 4 of the…

Pegasus Bridge

It is always good to have time to visit the original Pegasus Bridge, now in the grounds of the Memorial Pegasus Museum in Normandy. I first walked across the bridge, when it was still in its original location, in 1979 and was on it for the 40th anniversary in 1984. In the 1990s the Caen…

Book Review: Osprey Combat – France 1940

Osprey Combat 14: German Infantryman versus British Infantryman France 1940 By David Greenacre (Osprey 2015, ISBN 9781472812407, 80pp, illustrated, softback, £11.99) Until this title appeared in Osprey’s Twitter feed, I had no come across the Combat series before. They are a new one looking at different armies facing each other on a particular battlefield. This example…

Picardy Resistance & Deportation Museum

   The Musée de la Résistance et de la Déportation de Picardie is a Second World War museum dedicated to the history of the Picardy region of France – which covers the departments of the Aisne, Oise and Somme – under the Nazi occupation from 1940-1944. It looks at resistance to German occupation, the help and…

D-Day 71

I have just returned from Normandy with a group from Leger Battlefield Tours which included members of the York Branch Normandy Veterans Association, with whom I have travelled to Normandy many times. As ever it was a memorable weekend and great to spend time in company with the veterans. However, it once more begs the…

Higgins Boat Memorial

The Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel (LCVP), or Higgins Boat, was the main type of landing craft used by the American military in the Second World War. On D-Day they were used extensively on both Omaha and Utah Beaches, being immortalised in the opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan showing the landings on D-Day. Designed by American…

Florence War Cemetery

Florence War Cemetery is situated on the outskirts of the famous city near to the River Arno, and close to the fighting in this area in 1944. The fighting reached Florence in August 1944 when New Zealand and South African forces were in action here following the capture of Rome in June. From September 1944 attacks…

Beds & Herts Memorial, Cassino

The Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire Regiment was a Territorial Army unit and it’s 2nd Battalion served with the 4th Division in the Italian Campaign. This memorial commemorates their role in the Fourth Battle of Monte Cassino in May 1944 when the battalion crossed the Gari river during the advance into the Liri Valley. It overlooks the…