6th June 1944 saw the greatest invasion force ever land on the beaches at Normandy just a couple of hours after thousands of paratroopers had dropped in Nazi occupied France. D-Day was eventually underway.

1000s of Allied troops landed at the five beaches of Normandy; Gold, Sword, Juno, Omaha and Utah. There were countless acts of bravery but there was just one single Victoria Cross granted on D-Day. It had been granted to CSM Stan Hollis who landed on Gold Beach.

Hollis was an experienced veteran who had previously seen action at Dunkirk, El Alamein and Sciliy. He’d already been taken prisoner by Rommel’s Afrika Korps but had managed to escape to rejoin the war.

Self-discipline wise, Hollis was not really a model soldier yet on D-Day, there was no doubting his talents as a soldier. He’d also been recommended for a Distinguished Conduct Medal while fighting in Italy and it was as his part of the offensive on the Mont Fleury Battery that Hollis gained his Victoria Cross in action with the Green Howards regiment.

While his company, advanced away from the coast, he noticed 2 pillboxes had been side stepped. As Hollis went along to check out, the Germans within commenced shooting. Hollis attacked them and cleared both pillboxes acquiring quite a few pows in the act. This permitted the main exit from the beachfront to remain open.

Later during the same day at the village of Crepon, Hollis engaged the enemy with his Bren gun to free 2 British soldiers who were stuck in a building. He successfully freed both men. The valour shown by Hollis in Normandy on D-Day saved many British lives and he was given the Victoria Cross. He was wounded in September of that year and the next month was awarded his medal by King George VI. Nowadays, his medal is on display at the Green Howards Museum in Yorkshire together with a few other Victoria Cross awarded in combat to other soldiers of the regiment.

Rob Atherton
www.RobAtherton.com

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