Today marks 75 years since the Normandy landings which marked the start of the liberation of Nazi occupied Europe and the beginning of the end of the Second World War. A combined force of 156,000 allied troops attacked German forces on the north coast of France. It was the largest ever military offensive of its kind drawing together land, air and sea forces to ensure its success.
The majority of the forces were American and British but other nationalities were also involved including Canadian and Australian troops. Throughout the day the allies secured their target beaches but the cost was high with around 4,400 men killed on the 6 June and another 9,000 wounded or missing.
Research into the Scouts Second World War role of honour shows the Movement paid a heavy price with 13 Scouts known to have been killed during the offensive on the 6 June. These included two Kings Scouts; Flemming Ladd Irving formerly of 27th Winnipeg Scout Group and Denis Jonathan Sims of the RAF. Another 44 Scouts are listed as killed throughout June as the allies advanced across Normandy. These are the Scouts whose names were report to Headquarters, the total tally is probably much higher.
We have extracted the names of those Scouts who died during the first month of the allied invasion of France. This poignant list shows Scouts from across the UK, Canadian and one Australian.
The parents of Private Bernard Alexander, Middlesex Regiment, formerly of 1st Eastcote Scout Group, chose to remember his Scouting on his grave with the inscription.
A Scout’s promise fulfilled, to do my duty to God and the King. God bless you
Following the landings the Scouts International Relief Service was able to start entering Europe to help those who had been displaced due to the War. The Scouts had established The Scout International Relief Service (SIRS) in 1942 knowing people who had lived in areas of conflict and occupation would need support. Already experienced in setting up and organising large camps, teamwork and first aid they were well placed to help. Scout Leaders registered their interest in volunteering overseas with SIRS. Women volunteers had to be 25 and over, and men 30 and over.
Find out more in our Scouting helps displaced people exhibition.