VETERANS are preparing to honour the sacrifice of two of their compatriots murdered by the SS Hitler Youth in one of the most infamous chapters of the Normandy landings.
A plaque bearing the names of Private William Barlow, 21, and Private Evan Hayton, 20, of the 6th Battalion Durham Light Infantry will be unveiled at Chateau d’ Audrieu, in the village of Audrieu, on Saturday .
While 24 soldiers of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles murdered in the same incident have been remembered on a plaque, the memory of the two soldiers would have been lost in the mists of time – but for the omission being spotted by members of the DLI Association.
Major Chris Lawton, Rifles Regimental Secretary for the North-East, said: “In 2009, on the 65th anniversary of D-Day, we were travelling to all the towns and villages liberated by the DLI in area.
“We also visited Audrieu, where we knew there had been a massacre by the SS and 24 Canadian and three English soldiers - including two from the DLI had been shot.
“Veterans Bob Scott and Steve Robson remarked the names of the two DLI soldiers were not on any memorial and decided to do something to recognise them and we started collection for the plaque.
Major Lawton added: “I was at a lunch and got into conversation with a fellow diner and told him about the two soldiers at the chateau and our efforts to raise cash for the plaque.
“The next morning he walked into my office with £1,200 in cash to pay for it. We are enormously grateful to him.”
A party of 43 veterans set off early yesterday (Thursday, June 5)to join D-Day commemorations today (Friday, June 6). They will unveil the plaque on Saturday.
It was on June 8, 1944 that members of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, along with Privates Barlow and Hayton were captured and handed over to the 12 Panzer Reconnaissance Battalion of the 12th SS (Hitler Youth).
Following interrogation they were executed – many shot in the back of the head. The atrocity was witnessed by members of the family who owned the chateau at the time.
Meanwhile, a group of the County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service will unveil a memorial to members of the DLI 9th in the village of Lingevres, near Bayeux, where members of the DLI 9th Battalion took part in a crucial battle.