SOLDIERS from Tidworth-based 43 (Wessex) Brigade were joined by veterans from the Second World War 43rd Wessex Division and the Earl of Wessex in Normandy to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the battle for Hill 112.
Fifty soldiers from 43 Bde spent four days in Normandy tracing the battles of 43 Div, walking the ground and joining with the veterans, their families and the people of Normandy to remember those who died in the battle to free France from German occupation.
The 43 Wessex Division began the war based in Salisbury, formed from the Territorial Army battalions of the south west, including 4th and 5th Battalions of the Wiltshire Regiment.
They landed in Normandy on June 24 1944 and fought continually until the Germans surrendered in April 1945, suffering the highest number of casualties with some 11,870 killed, wounded or missing during the campaign.
Hill 122 was the key to the battle for Normandy and had already been taken and lost before the men of 4th and 5th Wilts and 4th Battalion the Somerset Light Infantry stormed the position on July 10, 1944 and took and held the hill.
The commemorative party consisted of soldiers from The Royal Wessex Yeomanry, 226 Battery, Royal Artillery from Bristol, 4 Rifles, officer cadets from Bristol University Officer Training Corps and staff from HQ 43 Bde and 1 Artillery Brigade, both based in Tidworth.
A service of remembrance was held at Banneville Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery where Padre Martyn Groves gave crosses to all of the soldiers to place on selected graves and time to reflect.
Rifleman Stefan Lynes from Bulford Based 4 Rifles read the Act of Remembrance at the service.
He said: “It has been an emotional experience seeing the veterans together. There was a connection between them and us - once a soldier, always a soldier. It was a privilege.”
The trip ended with a march past the Earl of Wessex at Hill 112 by soldiers, veterans and their families and a group of English schoolchildren who have helped to raise funds for the memorial site.
During the service, the President of L’Association ODON-COTE 112 (Hill 112) said to the veterans and their families that their loved ones “would be cared for by the people of Normandy” and an even greater burden would be placed on them with the closure of 43 (Wessex) Brigade.