D-Day thrust units that would normally expect to fight from positions of relative safety directly in harm’s way. Stephen Keoghane crashes ashore with the artiller ymen of the 147th Essex Yeomanry

An artist’s impression of Sergeant Palmer’s Sexton charging Wn.37, the German bunker housing an anti-tank gun that proved a tough adversar y on D-Day

In 1939, two artillery regiments carried the county name of Essex – the 104th and 147th (Essex Yeomanry) Field Regiments, Royal Artillery. The 104th were deployed in the Western Desert and thereafter in Italy. On June 6, 1944, its sister regiment landed on Gold Beach, tasked with supporting the 50th (Northumbrian) Division in the assault between Le Hamel and La Riviere.

Each of the regiment’s assigned landing craft carried a troop of four Sexton selfpropelled guns – a Canadian-developed/ produced vehicle pairing the 25-pounder field gun with a Ram and (later) Sherman hull – with an ammunition sledge underneath the vehicles that would be towed through the waves onto the beach. Stacked next to the guns were a further 200 rounds – ready for the run-in shoot.

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