Just over seventy-five years ago - on September 12/13th 1942 - three men from SOE’s Small Scale Raiding Force (No. 62 Commando) were killed during a night time operation on the stretch of Normandy coastline at Saint Laurent-sur-mer that would eventually be known as Omaha Beach -
Major “Gus” March-Phillipps DSO MBE - Royal Artillery, attd Small Scale Raiding Force
Sergeant Allen Williams - The Queen's Royal Regiment (West Surrey), attd Small Scale Raiding Force
Private Richard Leonard - Pioneer Corps, attd Small Scale Raiding Force
The commune of Saint Laurent-sur-mer had held official ceremonies on the raid's 75th annivesary, at the seafront plaque dedicated to Operation Aquatint, and then at its nearby cemetery where the three had been buried three days later. Secret WW2 had also paid tribute to them by arranging for Royal British Legion wreaths to be specially laid.
Private Leonard's original surname was Lehniger and he'd been born in what would eventually become the Czech Republic. His mother had been from a German-Jewish family and so Martin Sugarman on behalf of AJEX (Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women) arranged for a Star of David to be especially made in metal, and for this to be placed in front of Private Leonard's CWGC gravestone on November 11thby the Mayor of St Laurent, Philippe Laillier.
Click HERE for our earlier news item about Operation Aquatint