VETERAN SIGNED JACKET
The mission started on D-Day +65 years,the objective was to get as many World War 2 Veterans to sign an Ma1 flight jacket, it was already signed by 5 of the original veterans from Easy Company 506, Band of Brothers namely Buck Compton, Bill Galbaith, Don Malarkley, Forest Guth, Manny Barrios.
The jacket itself was put together originally to commemorate the 101st Airborne E/ 506.
It now has over 135 signatures ranging from Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS), Womens Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF), Womens Royal Naval Service (WRNS), Special Air Service (SAS), Royal Navy (RN), Royal Observer Corps (ROC), 82nd Airborne (505), Royal Ulster Rifles (RUR), 9th Parachute Battalion, 6th Airborne Division, 7th Medium Royal Artillery (MRA), Armored Guards (AG), 46th Commandos, 49th Division Royal Engineers (RE), 102 Provost Company, 49th Reconnaissance Corps, 12th Parachute Regiment, Royal Army Service Corps (RASC), 3rd Royal Tank Regiment (RTR), 147th Essex Yeomanry, Merchant Navy, Chindit's, Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers (REME), 12th Yorkshire Parachute Battalion. Pictures (5-6) were taken at the town hall at Ste Mere Eglise in this photograph is a German Paratrooper from the 6th Fallschirmjager. Picture (6) is the jacket being stamped with an original war time stamp that was retrieved while the 6th Fallschimjager were retreating back in 1945 and was adopted as there offical stamp when they started their reunions in 1965.
While in Normandy one of the veterans who signed my jacket asked me to send him a copy of the photograph that was taken at the time, on my return to England i put one in the post to him as promised and thought know more of it, until three weeks later i recived a letter and in it was is own Normandy Veterans blazer jacket badge that he first bought when the association was formed, which i now proudly wear on my jacket.
Picture (1) was taken at the Pegasus Bridge museum Benouville, the veteran in the photograph is Sergeant Titch Rayner who was with D Company of 2nd Battalion, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry and part of the coup de main Pegasus Bridge operation, which had been identified as two bridges carrying the coastal road over the Caen Canal and River Orne,so at 0016hrs on the 6th June the glider landed in the area of Varraville Bridge after the glider was released in the wrong place though a navigantion error which was made by the tug aircraft.
Having realized that they had come down in the wrong place Titch Rayner and is Officer Comanding with the rest of the stick would first have to take a bridge which was being guarded by a small group of Germans after a short battle in which the enemy was killed, the idea was then to move cross-country and rejoin the battalion at Ranville, a recce of 3 men was sent out as they needed to pass through a small wooded area 2 men came back and confirmed everything was ok and the third man was waiting in the woods when suddenly the sound of boots coming back down the track and loud voices talking, the group realized it was the third man sent out in the recce and he had is hands up and was being pushed along by a german soldier with a gun, on seeing this and the german soldier being silhouetted against the skyline one of the soldiers opened fire on the german who was killed but as he fell he must have pulled the trigger on his gun the result was that Sgt Titch Rayner was hit in the shoulder by the bullet and to this day he is the only British soldier to be shot on D-Day by a dead German.
I would like to thank Colin Jones of Castles and Battlefields Tours for the kind donation of 2 veteran badges 40th and 65th that are given by the French government to veterans who join them for the anniversary at the remembrance parade every five years, for more info on battlefield tours please go to the links page on this website.
Thanks also goes to Mrs Taylor from the women's land army who also donation her own WLA badge (original) at Pickering war weekend 2012 and also signed the jacket with 3 other WLA veterans.
In 1966 the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry changed to the 1st Battalion The Royal Green Jackets, which was my own regiment and I was proud to serve in.
To see all the pictures of the signed jacket go to the gallery.