3rd Parachute Brigade HQ Ceremony – Le Mesnil – 6th June 2019

The northern flank of the 6th Airborne Division’s perimeter was deliberately situated on the vital Breville Ridge which overlooked the whole area, including Pegasus Bridge. This ridge was held by Lord Lovat’s 1st Special Service Brigade and Brigadier James Hill’s 3rd Parachute Brigade. Hill set up his HQ at what was a cheese farm only 100 yards from the vital crossroads at Le Mesnil, the main road of which ran directly to the bridges across the river and canal. Also situated there amongst various buildings was the Main Dressing Station of 224 Field (Parachute) Ambulance. Although it had been part of the plan to have a Field Ambulance situated so close the Front Line (for the first time), the location was not that originally intended, but the proposed position was found to be unsuitable.

The area around the Le Mesnil Crossroads. Part of the front line was the tree-lined ditch NE of the crossroads. Early on, for a few days the high-walled house was too.

The farm is now owned by the Roy family and for the first time, Monsieur Bertrand Roy opened up his home for a commemoration ceremony at 2pm on 6th June 2019.  With the help of Yves Le Cuziat, President of the Association for the Liberation of Sannerville (and a long-time friend of the 3rd Parachute Brigade) a short Service was performed in front of a good attendance of officials and military personnel, followed by a wreath laying beside the Field Ambulance building, as seen in the main photo.

The 3rd Parachute Brigade HQ Farmhouse. The first surgery was carried out in the rooms to the right of the photo. This must have been taken within a few days of arrival as the MDS moved to the Dairy, a more suitable building facing it, a few days later.
The Brigade HQ Farmhouse today. Brigadier Hill’s office was at the left hand end of the building, of which the stairs up to it can be seen.

The room that Brigadier Hill used as his office was opened for viewing by the public for the first time.

The Dairy building which became the Main Dressing Station of 224 Field (Para) Ambulance
The 224 Field (Para) Ambulance plaque that can be seen on the end of the Dairy building.

The highlight of the afternoon was the presence of Harry Read, a signaller who actually served there. The previous day he had completed a tandem parachute jump onto DZ ‘K’ !  

Harry Read talking to some of the very interested serving Airborne soldiers.