Friday 6th June 2014 marks the 70th Anniversary of D-Day, the allied assault landing into Nazi occupied Europe. An operation that marked the start of the liberation of Europe and the beginning of the end for Hitler and his Nazi empire. Antecedent Regiments of The Rifles feature large in the story of D-Day in every aspect of the operation.D Coy of the 2nd Bn Oxford & Buckinghamshire LI, under command Major John Howard, famously captured the bridges over the Caen Canal and Or…ne River in a preliminary ‘coup de main’ operation early hours D-Day. Less well known is that they were subsequently reinforced by 7th (LI) Para Bn [formerly 10th Som. LI], who were also part of the 6th Airborne Division assault landing.
On the coast, on the beaches 1st Dorsets were taking part in their 3rd beach assault of the war (having previously landed in Sicily and Italy) 2nd Devons were landing on Gold Beach, along with 6th 8th 9th DLI (151 ‘Durham Brigade – also veterans of Sicily) 2nd Glosters, 12th Devons, 5th Royal Berks and 2nd KSLI were all also landing on the Normandy beaches that day in 1944. Beaches some of which had been marked out for landing by another antecedent of The Rifles, 1st Buckinghamshire Bn (TA) Ox & Bucks LI who were part of 6th Beach Group.
The story of each of these units and their involvement in Operation Overlord can be explored further by visiting their museums in The Keep Dorchester, The Wardrobe Salisbury, The Castle Taunton, The DLI Museum Durham, RGJ Museum Winchester, all part of The Rifles museums Network.
It was a momentous moment in world history and events that day 70 years ago, still influence the Europe of today. On this 70th anniversary we pay respect to all veterans and the fallen of this operation. We in The Rifles can be justly proud of the D-Day legacy our forebears have left us. For that reason recalling their bold deeds that day; both Pegasus Bridge & Normandy are proud battle honours borne on the appointments of every Rifleman today.