Jack Quinn with medals
Jim Glennie and his two best friends fought their way inland, facing mines and tanks until they were ambushed. The two Casson Brothers also faced an extremely determined foe. In July Peter Lovett experienced a close shave after an all-night patrol while Sidney Bates fought from D-Day to August when his division was attacked, and he defended his men with an act of extraordinary bravery.

Jim Glennie with family Jim Glennie with family Jim Glennie with family 2

Private Jim Glennie

5th/7th Gordon Highlanders

Jim, from Aberdeenshire, joined the 5th/7th Gordon Highlanders and spent two years preparing for war, coming ashore on D-Day at 19 years of age. Alongside him were his best friends Ronnie McIntosh and Bill Norrie. Over the next ten days they faced hazards including mines and tanks as their unit worked its way inland towards Caen.

“We were always together, even before going into France. I went to school with Ronnie, played bowls with him, and then Norrie came along, and we said ‘come with us’.

When I landed on D-Day, I was lucky, I didn’t even get my feet wet! After that it was all go… I remember that first night, we had a tin of corned beef between the three of us… The second day though, that was a wee bit hot. The Germans were right there waiting for us.

Aye, it was tough going, and then on the 16th [June} we were trying to advance, and that’s when I got shot… It was a machine pistol, it was awfully close because the Germans had advanced, that’s why I was captured. Ronnie was captured too, and that night we got into a barn [as prisoners] and he told me Norrie had been killed… he was a fine chap.”

Jim was sent to a German-controlled hospital before being transferred to the large Stalag IVb Prisoner of War camp in Germany where he spent the rest of the war. On returning home he eventually became a first-class welder in a shipyard until he retired. Jim married Winnie in 1953 and they had two children, and he and Ronnie remained life-long friends.

Marine Robert Casson & Private Joseph Casson

John Holland photo and medal - 2nd set
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Marine Robert Casson, R.M. Commando 

Private Joseph Casson, Durham Light Infantry 

Five Casson brothers from Whitehaven went to war, but two never came home. Robert was called up on Valentine’s Day 1940, joining the Royal Marines, later volunteering to train as a Commando (with 46 RMC). Assigned to the 4th Special Service Brigade, supporting the Canadians, he approached Juno Beach on D-Day but was shot and killed instantly in his landing craft. Later that day, 18-year-old Joseph landed on Gold Beach. The brothers’ niece, Mary, and husband John, have uncovered their stories.

John Holland and family
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“Uncle Joseph fought in Operation Perch [in the week after D-Day] and entered Tilly-sur-Seulles on 20th June, about eight miles from Bayeux. He was wounded the next day. We don’t know if he died on the battlefield or while being treated at a Casualty Clearing Station near Jérusalem. A letter from the War Office told my family he had died from his wounds on 27th June. That letter was dated 17th July. The next day a letter dated 18th July arrived, confirming the devastating news that his elder brother, Robert, had been killed in action on D-Day.

John Holland photo and medal
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Nothing much was taught at school about the war. It’s later in life we’ve found out more, and think it’s important to share information with family and others, especially personal connections.” 

The brothers were initially buried in different locations before being re-buried alongside each other at Ryes War Cemetery, at their mother’s request. 

Peter Lovett holding medals Peter Lovett Peter Lovett with medals

Private Peter Lovett

8th (Irish) Battalion, King’s Liverpool Regiment

In June 1942, still 17, Peter lied about age and joined the 8th Irish Battalion, the King’s Liverpool Regiment. He was in the second wave on Juno Beach on D-Day, attached to the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division. He was in No 7 Beach Group and worked on supervising the beach clearance, directing incoming tanks and vehicles and recovering the bodies of comrades. When his regiment was disbanded in July and he volunteered to join 9th Battalion, the Paratroop Regiment. It was then that he experienced a close shave after an all-night patrol.

“I'd got my mess tin, I was eating my breakfast, which was sausage and egg. And normally you hear mortar bombs in the distance, and it gives you warning… I just heard BANG! and everything went black. I was thrown about eight feet, and I was upside down in a trench. And I heard blokes shouting, “Medics, Medics!” And they grabbed hold of me by the legs, because my legs were sticking out. And they had to drag me out of this trench.

Next thing I knew, I was on the jeep and the first real time I kind of came to, I was in a bloody hospital. I was in a big marquee at Bayeux... I looked around, there were quite a lot of beds. But there were blokes with arms in a sling, blokes with their leg off and everything. And I was very embarrassed, because as far as I knew, I wasn't wounded…

A nurse said: “We think it's concussion. So, I should keep him in overnight, kick him out in the morning if he's alright”. So, that was that.”

After the Normandy campaign, Peter saw extensive action in Europe in the Ardennes, and he later dropped over the Rhine for the first time in March 1945 as part of Operation Varsity.

Corporal Sidney Bates VC

B Company, 1st Battalion, Royal Norfolk Regiment 

Sidney Bates VC service photo
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Sidney volunteered in 1940, and was amongst the first to land on Sword Beach on D-Day. He was involved in fierce fighting for the next two months. On 6th August near Sourdeval, Sidney’s section was attacked by German troops of the 10th SS Panzer Division who were advancing through the British lines. His friend, a Bren gunner who he’d known since basic training, was killed next to him. His nephew Chris has researched what happened next.

“Sid picked up the Bren Gun and then advanced upon the Germans where he was shot, went down, got up, was shot again, went down, got up, until finally a mortar brought him down. He had advanced so far, about 200 yards into the middle of the field and the Germans were so surprised by this, they stopped and didn't advance any more, in fact they started to retreat. He called out a couple of times ‘come on boys, come out here, get me’. It was about 2 hours before they actually got out to Sid.

[It’s] said that he had wrapped himself around the Bren gun, he was still changing magazines and firing at them whilst his strength lasted.

I feel proud that I have been able to learn about it and honoured to have met his friends and comrades who were with him and they were happy to share that time with me and to explain what happened. It’s such an honour, an honour in the family.”

Sidney was taken to a nearby field hospital where he died two days later. He was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross and is the only VC winner commemorated on the British Normandy Memorial.

D-Day 80

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