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Gold landings, then the road to hell
Two battalions of Green Howards landed on Gold Beach on D-Day.
When the war started, both were recruited largely from Teesside and North Yorkshire, although as they'd suffered losses from Dunkirk through the Middle East to Sicily, the regional element of the regiment had become diluted.
First ashore at 7.37am were A and D companies of the 6th Battalion.
A Company suffered the day's first casualties because the water they landed in was so deep that a couple of men drowned. The rest, though, were exhorted on their way by a platoon commander shouting: "Get off the beach - off the beach, off the bloody beach and give the buggers hell!"
A Company was led by 23year-old Major Frederick Honeyman from Middlesbrough. He was awarded the Military Cross for his gallantry just off the beaches when he came across an enemy position guarded by seven pillboxes and defended by soldiers throwing grenades.
The citation says although he was hit in the arm and leg by splinters, he "restored the impetus of the attack and took the position, killing or capturing all the enemy".
His MC and other medals are in the Green Howards Museum, with the telegram that his parents in Linthorpe received on June 26, 1944, saying he had been killed in action five days after D-Day.
He was trying to rescue some wounded men from a wood when he was shot, and he is buried along with 4,218 others, in Bayeux cemetery.
Back on the beaches, Company Sergeant-Major Stan Hollis' D Company landed alongside Maj Honeyman's A Company, followed by B Company.
But it was C Company which bore the brunt of the Green Howards' losses on that first day. Atrocious conditions of the sea meant that its landing craft arrived 13 minutes behind schedule.
The delay gave the enemy time to regroup and it now poured its fire down on to the high water line.
C Company was led by Captain John Linn, 27, of Scarborough, and he was soon wounded in the leg.
Sitting on the sand, he conducted the operation until he was hit for a second time and died. In fact, one of C Company's platoons that morning lost 12 of its 33 men in half-an-hour on Gold Beach. Its stretcher-bearer won the Military Medal for his bravery under fire.
What remained of C Company pushed on, destroyed an ammunition dump and discovered a maze of tunnels. Inside was a party of Germans.
The Green Howards threw in grenades, killing 12 enemy and wounding at least 24.
Another 40 were taken prisoner. At 3pm, they drove the Germans out of the village of Villers le Sec, and by 9pm they were safely dug in south of St Gabriel.
The 7th Battalion landed on Gold at 8.15am. They progressed so rapidly that an air-spotter concluded that they couldn't possibly be British. So he called on naval fire to slow them up, which caused several casualties and encouraged them to dig in for the night.
When night fell on D-Day, the Green Howards were as far forward as any British troops.