RIP All Who Died in Action, D-Day June 6th 1944 (General)

by Jefff @, West London, Middlesex, Monday, June 06, 2011, 03:33 (4265 days ago)

Today and this evening were wet, cold and windy, very unpleasant for June, not a good night to be outdoors we'd say ?. Perhaps even worse for those leaving for work at dawn on Monday 6th June. Please though spare a thought for our ancestors, without their actions we might be facing an altogether worse day tomorrow...

This night back in 1944, June 5th, D-Day Minus 1, was similar weather I think; definitely not a good night to be clambering into an unheated aircraft and flying across the English Channel. This is what Alfred Henry James Beard from Longhope was doing this very night back in 1944. As a Lance Corporal of the 7th Battalion Parachute Regiment he would be among the very first Allied soldiers to invade Europe.
It's thought they were part of the force tasked with capturing & holding the small but key “Pegasus” & “Horsa” canal bridges just inland of the Normandy coastline towards Caen, to prevent German armour from crossing and attacking the eastern flank of the troop landings at Sword Beach.
See map here, please open in new window to show full map

Fred & his mates parachuted into the area to reinforce the Glider troops who'd landed 30 minutes earlier. Their drop was scattered, but by 0300 hours, 40% of the Battalion had reached the bridges and more men continued to come in throughout the day. Enemy attacks by tanks, armoured cars and infantry began to develop at 0500 hours 6th June and continued with increasing intensity during D-Day. They successfully beat off these attacks until relieved 20 hours later by 3rd British Infantry Division from the beaches. Among other things, while holding the bridges, 7th Parachute Battalion even had a “naval battle” with two German coastal craft on their way up the canal to Caen !. The first they knew we held the bridges was when our troops opened fire; the vessels went aground and their crews captured. The Luftwaffe made unsuccessful air raids on the bridge, a 500kg bomb actually hitting it but bouncing off without exploding.

One of the 7th Battalion was young budding actor Richard Todd who would, nearly two decades later, play Major Howard leading the Glider troops in the film "The Longest Day".

The 7th had been formed from the Somerset Light Infantry, as part of the 6th Airborne Division. During the Normandy campaign Divisonal casualties were heavy; 821 killed, 2,709 wounded and 927 missing. Like so many of his mates and other brave heroes throughout the Allied Forces, L/Cpl Fred Beard sadly died in action on 6th June 1944, aged 28years.

The Parachute Regiment Charter
"What manner of men are these who wear the maroon red beret? They are firstly all volunteers, and are then toughened by hard physical training. As a result they have that infectious optimism and that offensive eagerness which comes from physical well being. They have jumped from the air and by doing so have conquered fear. Their duty lies in the van of the battle: they are proud of this honour and have never failed in any task. They have the highest standards in all things, whether it be skill in battle or smartness in the execution of all peace time duties. They have shown themselves to be as tenacious and determined in defence as they are courageous in attack.
They are, in fact, men apart - every man an Emperor."
Field Marshal The Viscount Montgomery of Alamein

Fred lies at rest in La Delivrande War Cemetery near Caen, see link below. The burials here mainly date from 6 June and the landings on Sword beach, particularly Oboe and Peter sectors. There are 942 Commonwealth servicemen buried or commemorated in this immaculately kept cemetery. The Cemetery also contains 180 German graves.,%20ALFRED%20HENRY%20JAMES,%...

Like so many, Fred's mother Bertha Beard nee Lane from Pound Cottage Longhope suffered badly during the World Wars. While she was only 18 her father Alfred had died in 1912, himself a mere 45. Soon after Bertha married local lad Henry as WW1 started, Henry joined-up and served overseas with the Army for six long years. Their first child and basis of this post Fred was born in 1915, Bertha still just 21. Bertha's only sibling James died in action in France in late 1918, aged just 20. Thankfully husband & new-father Henry survived WW1, they had three further children. WW2 brought the death of Fred in 1944. Despite supposedly "winning" the War and "thus the spoils", it probably didn't seem so for the Beards. Their only daughter Barbara was taken ill to sadly die in 1948 from TB aged just 23, two years after the birth of her only child and my half-sister Shirley.

Thankfully and despite all their personal tragedies, Bertha and Henry lived in Longhope to ripe old ages of 92 and 79 respectively. Who knows whether they would have been able to enjoy their retirements at all without the terrible losses of their loved ones at war and at peace ?. It is to men and women such as James and Fred from many Nations worldwide across many wars and conflicts that we owe our peace and freedom. So even if it is raining early tomorrow when we leave our warm homes, remember the likes of Fred and what he must have been thinking when setting off to "work" that cold wet night in June 1944.

"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning,
We will remember them."

Alfred Henry James BEARD 1915 - 1944 R I P

by slowhands, proud of his ancient Dean Forest roots, Monday, June 06, 2011, 08:11 (4265 days ago) @ Jefff


At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Initials: A H J
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Lance Corporal
Regiment/Service: The Parachute Regiment, A.A.C.
Unit Text: 7th Bn.
Age: 28
Date of Death: 06/06/1944
Service No: 5678355
Additional information: Son of Henry and Bertha Beard, of Longhope, Gloucestershire.
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: Sp. Mem. IV. K. 4.

Year: 1915
Month: Oct
Day: 30
Parents_Surname: BEARD
Child_Forenames: Alfred Henry James
Fathers_Forenames: Henry
Mothers_Forenames: Bertha
Residence: Pound Cottage Longhope
Occupation: Woodturner
Officiating_Minister: Alfred J Walker
Event: Baptism
Memoranda: Born 9 Oct 1915
Page_Number: 162
Parish_Chapel: Longhope

Name: Alfred H J Beard
Mother's Maiden Name: Lane
Date of Registration: Oct-Nov-Dec 1915
Registration district: Westbury On Severn
Inferred County: Gloucestershire
Volume: 6a
Page: 432

Ἀριστοτέλης A Gloster Boy in the Forest of Dean ><((((*>

Pound House at Longhope, the home of Alfred Beard

by admin ⌂, Forest of Dean, Monday, June 06, 2011, 11:03 (4265 days ago) @ slowhands

Pound House at Longhope, the home of Alfred Henry James Beard 1915 - 1944 & his parents. One wonders if Alfred appears on the picture as I have no date for it.

Ian Thomas


Pound House at Longhope, adjoining the home of Alfred Beard

by Jefff @, West London, Middlesex, Monday, June 06, 2011, 15:52 (4265 days ago) @ admin

Hi David/Ian,
yes thats a great photo. It's actually taken from within the walled "Pound" across the road from Pound House. I guess there wasn't a traffic problem then ! My stepsister & her Beard cousins haven't yet identified the people or dates, we'd love to know. Here's a more recent shot, still a nice old house. Sorry, despite my best efforts I'm still unable to post the photo direct!.
Note the caption:
"Stands opposite a field which was known as The Pound which was used to pen animals found wandering in the village. The house bears an inscribed tablet which reads,
'The Pound House destroyed by fire 19 October 1851 was rebuilt for Hannah Bright Aged 71 years by the Norwich Union Fire Office 1852.'

I presume the animals were merely escapee cows etc from the nearby fields & smallholdings. I wonder if their owner had to pay for their return ?

In actual fact the Beards lived in Pound Cottage, attached to the right of Pound House to right of tall chimney stack. My halfsister lived there with Henry & Bertha until aged 7 when she moved to cottages near the "Farmer's Boy" pub with our father when he remarried to a Longhope girl, my mother, in 1953. My halfsister recalls helping her grandad with his photography: Henry aka "Harry" Beard owned a big box camera & tripod and photographed local scenes, printed the photos at home, and sold them as postcards locally including at my ancestor Mrs E.Wright's Longhope shop. He also photographed local events such as weddings, the cricket team and so on, he's listed in local Trade Directories. When he died in 1967 Bertha moved out of Pound Cottage, but her son Cyril renovated it and lived there afterwards. For a while Cyril was the landlord of the "Lamb" pub and then Ranks Social Club, both in Mitcheldean. Before that Cyril and friends had worked in London right after the war, Cyril became head barman at the renowned Carlton Club. While there he befriended & played squash with world-famous actor Boris Karloff, who visited Cyril at Mitcheldean a few years later. (Boris aka William Henry Pratt was born-in & died-in London, an Englishman thro & thro). Cyril Beard & wife Nancy died just a few years before Bertha in the 1980s. My Wright grandparents on mum's side were landlords of the "Nags Head" at nearby Longhope thro the mid 50s - 70s; we're not all career-drinkers but there must be something in that fresh country air to create a thirst !

Pound House at Longhope, the home of Alfred Beard

by Barbara Lloyd @, Monday, June 06, 2011, 16:22 (4265 days ago) @ Jefff

How the facts of history come to light, The Pound House at Longhope rebuilt for
Hannah Bright by Norwich Union Fire Office in 1851. Hannah Bright is linked to my
Husband's side of the family, and Evan Clement Lloyd missing from the 1911 Census is a
descendant. I still have a lot of research to do.

The Bright's and Dawes of Longhope the local Church has many memorium plaques on its walls. A cousin who lives in Australia now used to work for the Norwich Union and wrote an article on the House and family, for the Norwich Union in house magazine about the fire.

Barbara Lloyd

Pound House at Longhope, the home of Alfred Beard

by Jefff @, West London, Middlesex, Monday, June 06, 2011, 17:06 (4265 days ago) @ Barbara Lloyd

Hi Barbara,
Purely out of curiosity I'd considered looking up Hannah Bright from this site's PRs, but assumed someone like yourself would have already done so...
If outward appearance is anything to go on, it appears the old Norwich Union did a very nice job indeed on her house. If possible I would love to see a copy of your cousin's article, please ?.

Thanks for your reply !.

Pound House at Longhope, the home of Alfred Beard

by Barbara Lloyd @, Monday, June 06, 2011, 17:17 (4265 days ago) @ Jefff

Hello Jeff

I will see what I can do - I have emailed her, and thank you for bringing to our
attention the Beard family and his service to our country - as you say we must
not forget.


Beards of Longhope

by jospp @, Saturday, March 30, 2013, 09:22 (3602 days ago) @ admin

Would the person who posted the photo recently concerning Fred Beard please contact me.

Beards of Longhope & D-Day Memories of Richard Todd OBE.

by Jefff @, West London, Middlesex, Saturday, March 30, 2013, 16:59 (3602 days ago) @ jospp

Hi Jo,
first thanks for highlighting this very interesting new photo which I hadn't seen.
Secondly, please accept my sincere apologies for not yet replying to your email, I will very soon indeed, have had a busy few weeks elsewhere. Before I replied I wanted to discuss it with the Beard family, as I now know you have too.
I will also contact my Beard contacts re this photo, I'm sure they will be very interested indeed, especially as they have just recently obtained some more old family photos and are about to have something of a family reunion to view them.
I too would very much like to contact the photo's poster, thanks.

Many thanks again and I'll email you very soon.
Enjoy a pleasant White Easter !, Jeff.

PS UPDATE re Richard Todd OBE, Para at D-Day and subsequent film actor.
My halfsister, grandaughter of Fred's father Henry Beard, found Longhope life a little quiet in the supposedly-swinging 60s, so on leaving EDGS she also joined the Service where she met her future husband. Like so many ex-RAF they setup their family home in Grantham, Lincolnshire, near their last posting. Nowadays this spacious flat county on the North Sea is known locally as Bomber County due to it being the home of so many RAF Bomber Command Stations during and after WW2. By coincidence the aforementioned actor Richard Todd also lived locally and used a newspaper shop that my halfsister worked in from the late 1970s. She recalls "I remember Richard as a quiet gentleman always dressed in tweed jacket, cavalry twill trousers and cap and always polite. He was quite short - I didn`t recognize him the first time I saw him".
Richard Todd had retired there after an illustrious military & acting career which included playing Wing Commander Guy Gibson in the 1955 film "The Dam Busters". This famous Squadron, 617, flew from Scampton,Lincs from 1943 until 1981, and may partly explain why Todd retired in the area. He was a keen supporter of Remembrance events especially those associated with the Normandy landings and the Dambusters which the British public long-associated him with. He appeared at many Dambusters' anniversaries, his final appearance was in May 2008 with Les Munro, the last surviving pilot from the raid on the Ruhr dams. He also narrated at least one TV documentary and contributed forewords to many books on this subject.
Finally, here are Richard's personal recollections of the D-Day actions in Normandy. I've only just read them for the first time and they bring a serious edge to my earlier rather amateur attempt at telling the tale, strongly recommended reading.

RIP All Who Died in Action, D-Day June 6th 1944

by mcowan @, Monday, June 06, 2011, 13:36 (4265 days ago) @ Jefff

Thank you for that timely reminder. A very touching tribute.

We will remember them.

RIP All Who Died in Action, D-Day June 6th 1944

by ritpetite @, New Zealand, Monday, June 06, 2011, 20:54 (4265 days ago) @ mcowan

This must be the best site in the world. Even cousins who are downunder, Canada or wherever we are all connected and a part of each other. If you hurt we hurt. So we all think of our cousins who have passed in wars.

Thank you for being a great connection for us all.

RIP All Who Died in Action, D-Day June 6th 1944

by Jefff @, West London, Middlesex, Friday, June 06, 2014, 14:02 (3169 days ago) @ ritpetite

On the 70th Anniversary of the D-Day Landings I wanted to say how delighted I am that the weather Gods have been so very kind to the gallant veterans who have travelled to Normandy this year. Once again they are being welcomed and feted by the locals as the true heroes they are. The area of Calvados is a lovely place to visit especially in early summer, and I'm sure the brandy of that name will be as gratefully sipped by the veterans today as it was in 1944. Perhaps ironically just a few miles inland is the delightful town of Bayeux, home to a superb cathedral and the amazing Tapestry depicting another successfull invasion, just a few highlights of this area.
Sadly it's possible this will be the last major anniversary that many of the veterans will be able to attend in person, but they can be confident their brave actions will never be forgotten. Their families, their Regiments, the good people of Normandy, those who lovingly tender the Cemeteries and Memorials, and many more people across the world; we will never forget, we will remember them.

Thankyou to all those who did their bit seventy years ago, on both sides of the Channel.
Rest In Peace those who gave their lives so the rest of us could live ours as we please.

RIP All Who Died in Action, D-Day June 6th 1944

by jospp @, Friday, June 06, 2014, 14:37 (3169 days ago) @ Jefff

After much research I discovered what happened to Fred Beard.
Lance Corporal Alfred Henry James Beard aged 28, was killed on D-Day as we know. Stirling IV EF268 of 620 Squadron RAF, piloted by Flying Officer Nathaniel Caskey of the Royal Canadian Air Force, took off from RAF Fairford at 23.35 on 5th June. It had on board 6 crew and 20 paratroopers, was hit by flak and crashed to the west of Dives-sur-Mer near the Houlgate coastal battery. All crew and paratroopers, including Fred, were killed.
I shall put a cross on Fred's grave when I visit La Delivrande War Cemetery, Douvres, in August.

RIP All Who Died in Action, D-Day June 6th 1944

by Jefff @, West London, Middlesex, Friday, June 06, 2014, 15:57 (3169 days ago) @ jospp

Hi Jo,
thanks for updating this thread and so clarifying my post of 2011, we're all gratefull for your hard work researching Fred's precise story. Only yesterday I was thinking I'm long overdue contacting you, I can only apologise for my delay and will email soon.
I'm pleased to hear you're visiting the Cemetery in August, I hope you have a good visit and the sun shines. If it does, and your itinery permits, may I recommend you take the scenic D514 coastal road westward to Arromanches les Bains, overlooking Gold & Juno Beaches and the remains of the Mulberry harbours. Further along is the American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer, the preserved strongpoints high above the cliffs graphically illustrate why that beach became known as "Bloody Omaha".

See general map here, please open in a separate new window to display in full

Just eastward of the landing beaches and the Caen Canal is Fred's intended target, the Houlgate battery near Cabourg, one of several gun positions defending the bay (far righthand side of map). I've not visited it but thanks to your research I plan to do so one day. The links below describe it's history and show what's left of it. Despite Commando raids, regular bombing and devastating bombardment by British battleships the Battery continued firing onto the British & Canadian landing beaches for some weeks.

This site shows the position and strength of the various Batteries along the bay

Regular viewers of "Who Do You Think You Are" and the like will be familiar with this view of the Imperial War Museum in London.

The massive 100ton guns are typical of WW1-WW2 British naval battleships, designed to engage the enemy fleet at ranges upto 15 miles away !. The far R/H gun is actually from HMS Roberts which engaged the Houlgate Battery during the invasion, firing 15" diameter shells of 1900 lb weight at extreme close range.

Nearby to Houlgate is the more accessible Merville Battery, home to an excellent Museum dedicated to the Parachute Regiment, wellworth visiting.

Not far away along the Canal towards Caen is another excellent Museum. It's centrepiece is the original "Pegasus" canal bridge, nolonger used since being replaced by the current larger bridge only yards away.


Altho' not within the Normandy area, anyone who prefers to stop off for a little sightseeing prior to catching their ferry or shuttle from Calais might enjoy visiting this interesting museum. Typical of so many in France, this understated yet impressive private collection is inexpensive to visit and is often very quiet being off the beaten track. The collection is housed within one of the huge Atlantic Wall bunkers built by the Todt Organisation. It should be remembered that all these massive concrete structures were built by the herculean efforts of forced if not slave labourers, including prisoners of war and over one million young men from across occupied Holland, Belgium and France. Many photos here
The Todt Battery Atlantic Wall Museum is at the Viking-named village of Audinghen, midway between Boulogne and Calais, on the coast near Cap Gris-Nez.

Thankyou again Jo for your work helping to remember all these brave people.

RIP All Who Died in Action, D-Day June 6th 1944

by ritpetite @, New Zealand, Friday, June 06, 2014, 19:02 (3169 days ago) @ Jefff

Well said Jeff

And no they will never be forgotten. I thank them most days for my freedom.

Hats off to my soldier relatives.


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