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Remembering them


On 6 June 1944 the Allies began the Invasion of Normandy to liberate Europe from Nazi occupation.


Bayeux War Cemetery, Normandy
There are 3,935 British soldiers buried here.
With them is Corporal Sidney Bates VC.

From Camberwell, in London, Corporal Sidney Bates was serving with the Norfolks when he took part in action at Sourdeval in August 1944, which resulted in the posthumous award of the Victoria Cross. His citation reads:

"In North-West Europe on 6th August, 1944, the position held by a battalion of the Royal Norfolk Regiment near Sourdeval was heavily attacked. Corporal Bates was commanding a forward section of the left forward company which suffered some casualties, so he decided to move the remnants of his section to an alternative position from which he could better counter the enemy thrust. As the threat to this position became desperate, Corporal Bates seized a light machine-gun and charged, firing from the hip. He was almost immediately wounded and fell, but he got up and advanced again, though mortar bombs were falling all round him. He was hit a second time and more seriously wounded, but he went forward undaunted, firing constantly till the enemy started to fall back before him. Hit for the third time, he fell, but continued firing until his strength failed him. By then the enemy had withdrawn and Corporal Bates, by his supreme gallantry and self-sacrifice, had personally saved a critical situation. He died shortly afterwards of the wounds he had received."

Four hundred thousand British men and women died in action during World War II. Three hundred thousand were wounded. Sixty thousand British civilians perished. They died so that we might live free.