Ranville British Cemetery

The 13th Lancashire Parachute Regiment were charged with taking this area early on D-day in readiness for the waves of glider reinforcements due at 03:30 and later at 21:00. They had to remove many hundreds of poles stuck into the ground that the Germans had planted as a rudimentary form of defence. By 04:00 the German resistance had finished. The Panzer Grenadier Regiment of 21st Panzer Division having moved back. The village was liberated at 02:30 making it the first village to be liberated in France. The first soldiers to fall were buried in the local churchyard next to the British cemetery by the French. Their graves remain there today, next to the boundary wall. Work on the cemetery was started by the Royal Engineers of 591st Parachute Regiment and by mid June there were nearly thirty graves. They put up wooden crosses making the graves and left a nine year old French boy called Claude in charge. He promised to take care of the graves. Today there are over 2,500 graves here including Commonwealth Troops. Over 300 Germans also have their last resting place here. Buried here is the first Allied solder killed in the liberation of France, Lieutenant Brotherbridge who was killed on the assault on Pegasus Bridge. There are also burials here that give the date of death as June 5th, presumably they died at sea or in the air on their way to Normandy. There are many memorials in and around Ranville to the many different Allied forces who passed through this area on or around D-day. Buried in plot IIIa, row l is the poet Major William John Fletcher Jarmain, who died whilst leading a scouting party into  Ste Honorine and was killed by a mortar bomb. He wrote this poem whilst serving in Africa which seems appropriate:

At a war grave No grave is rich, the dust that herein lies Beneath this white cross mixing with the sand,  Was vital once, with skill of eye and hand And speed of brain. These will not re-arise These riches, nor will they be replaced. They are lost and nothing now, and here is left Only a worthless corpse of sense bereft Symbol of death, and sacrifice and waste.

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