Gunner Albert Dyche
Unit : 3rd Airlanding Anti-Tank Battery, RA
Service No. : 4928102
Albert Dyche, son of Samuel and Eva Maria of Rushall, Staffordshire, joined the Royal Artillery in 1941. He later volunteered for the Airborne Forces and was posted to the 3rd Airlanding Anti-Tank Battery. Due to a shortage of gliders, only one of the Battery's four Troops was flown to Normandy on the 6th June 1944, the remainder, including Gunner Dyche, embarked on a Landing Ship at Gosport on the 1st June and, having spent four days at sea, landed at Lion-sur-Mer on the afternoon of D-Day. Having assembled at Colleville, the Battery moved into the Divisional area and arrived in Ranville in the early morning of the 7th June.
On the 19th August, the "B" and "C" Troops were in the vicinity of the railway station near Dozulé when, at 09:00, they came under heavy mortar fire. The Battery war diary records that a Jeep was destroyed and six other ranks wounded. Gunner Dyche was amongst those wounded in destroyed Jeep. He was taken to a Field Hospital but died of his injuries on the next day. He was 21 years of age.
On the 7th September 1944, his Battery Commander, Major Woodrow, wrote the following letter to his father:
Dear Mr. Dyche,
I have just heard from Bill French that you have received notification from the War Office that your son has died of wounds he received while in action. I cannot tell you how greatly I sympathise with you in your great loss. Bert was a son that any father could well be proud of and if my own son grows up to be as fine a man as your Bert, I shall be very pleased and very proud.
Bert's cheerfulness and courage throughout the whole campaign was an inspiration to us all. He was the best and bravest soldier that any commander could ask for and was a man that I feel honoured to have fought beside and to have called a friend.
I feel sure that painful as it is, you would like to know the full story of what actually happened.
On 19th August this division was engaged in driving the enemy from the river Orne to the Seine and clearing the coast as far as the west bank of the Seine. It was the left flank of General Montgomeries great encircling move about which you will have read in the papers.
Bert's Troop was supporting some paratroops who were attacking in an infantry role, a village on a hill that commanded a crossing over a river. Their job was to get into the village as soon as it was captured and consolidate and give support against a possible counter attack as the Germans were known to have tanks in the area. All of us knew the dangers and the difficulties of what we had to do, but Bert never hesitated for one moment, and started up his jeep just as coolly and just as calmly as if he were going for a Sunday afternoon drive. I myself went with them and as I was travelling in the next jeep saw everything that happened.
The Germans had been shelling and mortaring us very heavily all the time and he opened up again just as we were nearly there. One shell fell almost on top of Bert's jeep, setting it ablaze and wounding the complete detachment. I got the remainder of the men and jeeps under cover and while I was doing this Bert was carried in. We did everything we could for him and the others, put them in a jeep and rushed them back to the nearest hospital. Though I knew that poor Bert had been badly hit I had every hope that he would recover and his death has come as a frightful shock to me.
I am afraid I cannot tell you where he was buried for, as I know you will understand in all the worry and heat of fighting a battle that moved as quickly as that last battle of ours did, one loses touch very quickly. On top of that we were suddenly withdrawn and returned to England. I will however, try my very hardest to find out and I will let you know immediately I hear anything.
No words of mine, Mr. Dyche, can console you for the loss of such a fine boy as Bert, but I do ask you to believe that I feel for you from the very bottom of my heart.
With all my very deepest sympathy,
Yours very sincerely,
Joe Woodrow (Major R.A.)
Albert Dyche is buried in plot I.C.3 in the La Deliverande War Cemetery, Douvres.
My thanks to Bob Hilton for this account
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