William Stanley Lennie (known as ‘Stan’)

 

Stan Lennie

I was born in my grandparent’s cottage on Church Bank in Tattenhall, just three doors down from the Old Rectory. At that time 10 people were living in the cottage including my grandparents, parents, aunties and uncles. Within a few years we moved to Rose Corner and, after my marriage to Sophia (Fay), to a new house on Keysbrook.

As most people know, the invasion force was divided into five landing zones: Utah, Omaha, Juno, Gold and Sword and I was part of Sword, the most easterly wing of the invasion. Sword was mainly a British operation with some Canadian infantry support and our objective was to assist in the liberation of Caen. When we arrived just east of Caen the combination of bad weather and high tides had reduced the actual landing area on the beach. We were in a confined space and became an easy target. Our tank was pinned down on the beach until late afternoon during which time we were exchanging fire with Rommel’s 21st Panzer Tank Division which was positioned in the corn fields behind the beaches and the sand dunes.

The 10 mile journey to Caen took a week. Our tank had a five man crew and on the first day of the operation I remember the Major in charge of the tank putting his head out of the top hatch to give instructions to the driver, only to be killed by rifle fire. During that week we made some ground and lost some too. The German tanks had superior firing power and a Tiger tank could knock out an Allied tank at just over 3.5kms. Our Sherman 4 tanks needed to get close to the enemy to be lethal but they were extremely nimble.

The tank crew had to grab food wherever they could as more often than not the Army Field Kitchens were not able to serve the tank crews. One of my companions found a cluster of hen’s eggs in a farmyard only to discover that it was a trap laid by the enemy, the eggs having been placed on the top of a disguised land mine!

Ten to fifteen tanks worked together and my tank was one that towed a sledge full of ammunition. When close to Caen, my vehicle attempted to clear a roadblock only to then hit a landmine. The tank was blown off the track completely immobilising it and we then came under assault from Molotov cocktails thrown by enemy infantry. I escaped but was hit by shrapnel to the lower right leg and so my repatriation began, arriving in Southampton on 23 July. Thereafter I was transferred to Cupar Fife, swapped to a job driving an officer and it was whilst recuperating in Scotland that I met my future wife Sophia (Fay) whom I married in 1948 but not before finishing my service in the British sector of Germany.

I have since been an active member of the Tattenhall branch of the British Legion, holding the office of Chairman. I have carried the Standard on two occasions at the Annual Service of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall in London and in 2008 I laid the Wreath at the Annual War Memorial Service here in Tattenhall.

Stan Lennie died on 6 February 2014, aged 90.

 

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