Firefighters preparing to honour Durham Light Infantry soldiers who died in key battle (From The Northern Echo)
For details on how to contact our editorial and commercial departments, click here
Firefighters preparing to honour Durham Light Infantry soldiers who died in key battle
DLI D-Day veteran Richard Atkinson (93) inspects the new memorial stone with Allan Pattinson, Grant Mackie, Nick Lonergan, Nigel Howarth and Martin Hollingsworth from Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service during their visit to Durham Cathedral.
FIREFIGHTERS are preparing to take a piece of Durham to the site of a battlefield in France to honour the fallen of a famous regiment in a short but crucial battle.
A group from Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service will accompany a 1.4 tonne lump of Durham stone to the village of Lingevres, near Bayeux, in Normandy, where members of the Durham Light Infantry’s 9th Battalion took on elite German shock troops.
The capture of the village on June 14 1944, with the loss of dozens of lives, prevented the Germans holding a vital position blocking the Allied advance.
Watch manager Allan Pattinson, who along with a group of fellow firefighters have for several years visited Normandy to commemorate the anniversary of D-Day, said: “We always go the little village of Lingevres which was the site of a key battle.
“It seemed sad that DLI veterans turned up and there was nothing to commemorate their sacrifices at the local church, where the wounded soldiers were taken after the battle.
“We decided to something about it.
“We wanted to take something from Durham and Paul Allison of Dunhouse Quarry, near Staindrop, agreed to give us a piece of Durham coarse stone.”
He added: “We have been in talks with the mayor of the town, who is very keen to have the memorial there.”
DLI veteran Richard “Dick” Atkinson, 93, of Whitley Bay, who met the firefighters in France, was at Durham Cathedral today (Monday, October 21) to see the stone.
Recalling the battle, he said: “It was a rush job. We were told the night before we had to go in the next day.
“The officers like to do a recce first, but they never had time to do it. The village had to be taken at all costs.
“The next morning, just after 10am, we went in across the cornfields. It was waist high. The Germans were in a ditch at the edge of a field and they just mowed us down.
“By the time we got to our objective we had had a terrible time. They were putting the wounded in the church.”
The battalion lost 236 killed, lost and wounded on the day, he added.
He said: “We were fighting Hitler’s bodyguard – an SS Panzer division. They were fanatics and fought to the last man and showed no mercy.”
Mr Atkinson recalled standing in a field talking to friends after the battle when they noticed a farmer shouting and gesticulating.
He said: “We went over and saw he had been cutting corn around what turned out to be our lads (lying dead in the field).
“We couldn’t see them because the corn was so high.”
He added: “It is marvellous what the firefighters are doing.”
Mr Pattinson said security company Serco had offered to pay to transport the memorial to France.
He said: “We are going to have a piece of marble engraved with the DLI cap badge to sit flush in the rock. We need to raise £800 to pay for it.”
Firefighters will be holding a collection at Sainsbury’s at the Arnison Centre, Durham, from 8.30am to 5pm.
Anyone who would like to help contribute can contact Mr Pattinson on 07587189741.
Comments are closed on this article.