This week, it is important to remember those who risked and gave their lives to defend us. This is the story of the 2nd Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment, who took part in the D-Day invasion of 1944, on the beaches of Normandy. Most information here has been sourced from the Yorkshire Regiment Living History Group.
Outbreak of War
At the outbreak of World War 2, The 2nd Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment was in Plymouth having recently returned from Palestine. They were mobilised on the 7th of September 1939.
The 2nd Battalion formed part of the 3rd Infantry Division, and in 1940 they went to France as part of the British Expeditionary Force positioned along the French-Belgian border. Later, in 1940, they fell back to the beaches of La Panne, where they were one of the last battalions to be evacuated.
Following evacuation, the Battalion spent time preparing defences on the south coast of England. Eventually, the threat of invasion diminished. The focus now lay on the liberation of mainland Europe. The Battalion was selected for an “Assault Operation” (this would turn out to be D-Day). They went to Scotland to undertake training in beach assault. It is said that the training that they were given has never been paralleled anywhere in British Military History.
On the 6th of June 1944, the Battalion took part in Operation Overlord and, although suffering many casualties, took all their objectives.
Between 0430 – 0600hrs the assault landing craft were lowered from the Empire Battleaxe and HMS Glenearn. Just after 0600hrs the seven mile journey to the beaches began. At 0725hrs the East Yorks landed on Queen Red beach where heavy mortar, machine gun and artillery fire were encountered.
A and B companies supported by tanks were to break through the beach obstacles. A company, along with C company of the 1st Battalion South Lancs, would attack and eliminate the Strong Point Cod. This consisted of: One 75mm gun, two 50mm anti-tank guns, three 81mm mortars, a 37mm gun and 5 machine gun posts.
B company were to move inland and assault Strong Point Sole with C company in support.
The next task was to attack and eliminate the Daimler Battery, a heavily defended gun battery with four 75mm guns capable of firing onto the invasion beaches. This was the main responsibility of D and C companies supported by tanks of the 13/18 Hussars. Strong Point Cod was taken by 1000hrs and Sole was overrun by 1300hrs. Daimler Battery was put out of action by 1800hrs with little loss and 70 prisoners taken captive.
The East Yorks continued on to the village of St Aubin d’Arquenay. They were relieved by the Kings Own Scottish Borderers. The East Yorks spent the night in a cornfield near Hermanville. By the end of the day the East Yorks had lost 5 officers and 60 men killed, and 4 officers and 137 men wounded.
The Battalion continued to fight with distinction all the way through the Normandy Campaign, then on into Belgium, Holland and finally into Germany. Their attack on Bremen being the last action of the campaign for the 2nd Battalion.