Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

North Hero Stood Tall on D-Day

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

North Hero Stood Tall on D-Day

Article excerpt

Byline: John Sadler

STANLEY Elton Hollis was born on Teesside in 1912, so he was in his thirties when he landed on Gold Beach with 6th Battalion Green Howards.

His battalion had trained hard up by Inverary on Scotland's hard north-west coast. Reveille on June 6 for the Green Howards was around 02.30 with a decent breakfast for those who had the stomach.

Getting down via the nets into the landing craft wasn't easy; the violent pitching of both vessels and the ungainly weight of kit wasn't conducive to smoothness. If the motion of the ship was bad, this was much worse and the laden bobbing craft had to cruise around in circles, till like a line of ducks they set off in line abreast, 'A' Company on the left and 'B' on the right.

Stan identified a German strongpoint dead ahead as they cruised in to land, (in fact it was a railway shelter), and grabbing a Lewis gun he rattled off a full pan of ammo. The gun was stripped of its water cooling jacket and, as he hefted it clear of the bracket, forgetting it would be red hot by now, he badly blistered his hand!

The plan called for Stan to lead mortar-men and Bren gunners from each platoon to charge ahead and set up at the high water mark, providing smoke and covering fire to get the rest through the belt of mines ahead.

On their right a tank brewed up - one of ours obviously - and the turret hatch bowled along the sand, a lethal projectile but noone was hurt. Up the beach and onto a low ridge of dunes festooned with thick wire entanglements. Birds were sitting apparently unconcerned on the coils. One wag suggested they had no choice as there wasn't any room left in the sky.

Ahead now was a dense belt of mines. 'D' company were first through after their assault engineers had gapped, Stan and the others followed the reassuring lines of white tape. Beyond the minefield lay Meuvaines ridge and Mont Fleury Batteries. …

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