TODAY we launch a new monthly column by Discover History's Paul Harding and Helen Lee looking at Worcestershire's past. To start, Paul explains the county's involvement in the Normandy campaign of 1944.

For the last two months I have been following the Normandy Campaign of 1944. I am extremely proud of my County Regiments, and feel this is relevant for the time of the year, with D-Day 75 being in the news.

In 2016, I also made it my mission to follow in the footsteps of the Worcestershire Regiment with my wife, Helen Harding and great friend Ion Riley. We used the Regimental diaries, histories and personal accounts to go on a pilgrimage through Normandy.

Today the Normandy countryside is beautiful. As many of the soldiers said in 1944, the countryside was not dissimilar to parts of Hereford and Worcestershire. However, when you look, you will find well-kept cemeteries, solid concrete gun emplacements and churches pox marked by fighting.

People will always commemorate and remember the D Day landings on June 6 in 1944. However the Battle for Normandy went on for weeks, and saw some vicious fighting.

Caen was an objective for D-Day itself. The beautiful Medieval City lay in ruins, and was liberated months later.

The 1st Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment landed at Ver sur Mere on June 22, 1944. The County Regiment had a long and proud history dating back to 1694.

Local gunners from the 179th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery also landed at about the same time. During the battles for Hill 112, these gunners supported their own County Infantry Regiment.

We must also remember the Worcestershire Yeomanry too. After riding into battle during the Great War, they had become the 53rd Air Landing Light Regiment, Royal Artillery. 211 Battery landed by glider, with the famous 6th Airborne Division on D-Day. The other Battery’s landed by landing craft in the days that followed.

The Worcestershire Regiment fought inland, through battle scarred and in some cases ruinous Normandy. One of their most famous actions was at Mouen, at the end of June. The Divisional Commander, General Thomas praised the Regiment afterwards, saying it was “one of the slickest attacks of the whole war”.

Meanwhile the old Yeoman from Worcestershire supported the airborne troops in a rather stagnant battle area around Ranville and Breville. Their role in supporting para troops was extremely important, as airborne forces were usually lightly armed and equip.

The Worcestershire Regiment was heavily involved in the Battles of Hill 112. By the end of July, these men had seen the most vicious fighting since the allies landed on the beaches back in June.

The Second World War in Europe would last for almost another year and by the end of it memorials would list the names of the dead and missing in their thousands.

Currently the Worcestershire Soldier Galleries, based at the city art gallery and museum in Foregate Street, has a temporary exhibition on the fight for Normandy. I would also recommend taking a few minutes from our busy lives, to visit St George’s Chapel inside the beautiful Cathedral and remember the list of casualties 75 years ago.

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