Remembering the D-Day Abingdonians

6 June 2019

We remember the Abingdonians who served in the D-Day campaign and those who lost their lives.

Private Ian Holland served with the 1st Bucks Battalion, Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, which landed at Ouistreham on Sword beach with the second wave of troops on D-Day. Their brief was to secure the beach, defend the ammunition dump and cross the Caen Canal. Holland died on D-Day+1. He was 20 and is buried in Hermanville War Cemetery along with over 1,000 other British casualties of the first days’ fighting in that sector.

Trooper Dennis Hillier served with the 3rd Royal Tank Regiment, part of the 11th Armoured Division. The Division landed in Normandy on 13 June 1944 and were committed on 27th June on the Odon River sector in Operation Epsom in an attempt to take Caen. On the 30 June they reached Hill 112 but the arrival in the area of the 1st SS Panzer-Division, Liebstandarte Adolf Hitler, forced a withdrawal. Dennis Hillier was killed on the 29th; he was 34 and is buried in Brouay War Cemetery.

Lieutenant William Giles served with the 2nd Fife and Forfar Yeomanry, part of the 11th Armoured Division. Their Sherman tanks were also involved in Operation Epsom. William Giles was killed on 30 June, the day of the German counter-attack. However, the fact that he is buried in Bayeaux War Cemetery, the burial ground for the surrounding hospitals, suggests that he might have died of wounds received some days earlier.

Lieutenant Denis Holme served with 5th Royal Berkshire Regiment, which landed on Juno beach, D-Day, 6 June 1944 as part of the beach group. At the end of June, the battalion were transferred to the 5th Battalion the Royal Wiltshire Regiment to replace battle casualties and were heavily engaged in all the fighting around Caen: the Odon River, Hill 112 and the capture of Mont Pinçon. Denis Holme died on 9 August, he was 21 and is buried in St Manvieu War Cemetery. His brother Michael had been killed in France on 21 May 1940.

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