Raleigh remembers Americans who stormed Omaha Beach

The tranquil surroundings of Antony Estate in Torpoint were a world away from the horrors of Omaha Beach.

But it was here that men from the US Army’s 29th Infantry Division prepared for storming Hitler’s Fortress Europe on June 6 1944.

And it was here on June 6 2019 when sailors from HMS Raleigh remembered those men and Torpoint’s role in the Normandy landings.

As with all South Coast ports, Plymouth was a key staging post for the invasion in the summer of 1944, with American forces peppered all around Raleigh and Torpoint.

The activity in the lead up to Operation Overlord in and around Jupiter Point was constant with the movement of troops and equipment on Ferry Lane. Then suddenly – and without warning – there was silence

Sir Richard Carew Pole

Nearly 9,000 US personnel, plus their equipment, were squeezed into the relatively small area between Whitsand Bay and Plymouth Sound, setting up camp at Scraesdon Fort, Blarrick, Tregantle, Mount Edgcumbe Country Park and the Antony Estate, where the remains of buildings built by US Forces in the grounds can still be found; it’s thought Hollywood legend James Stewart, who was then a pilot in the US Air Force, visited the troops and played the piano in Broomhill Cottage on the estate.

And the hard by the River Lynher which is now Raleigh’s sea sense training centre, was built specially for D-Day preparations; it was nominally the embarkation point for elements of the 29th Division, who landed on Omaha.

“I remember well the 29th Division camping in the woodland surrounding Antony House and also the Wrens who occupied Antony House during that period of World War 2,” said Sir Richard Carew Pole, who was a child when the Americans were based on the estate and still lives in Antony House.

“The activity in the lead up to Operation Overlord in and around Jupiter Point was constant with the movement of troops and equipment on Ferry Lane.

“Then suddenly – and without warning – there was silence and they had all gone on route to the beaches in Normandy.”

As for Raleigh, it acted as headquarters for the Embarkation Transportation Corps under the overall command of Captain Charles Fenton Mercer Spotwood Quinby, Commanding Officer of the US Naval Advance Base in Plymouth.

The commemorative service, conducted by RN chaplain The Rev Andrew Corness, Royal Navy Chaplain, was held overlooking Jupiter Point.

“For Service personnel, in particular, it’s important to remember those who came before us and the sacrifice they made.

“Most of those who took part in the D-Day landings would have been of a similar age to our recruits,” said Raleigh’s Commanding Officer Captain Richard Harris.

“While the British Admiralty were responsible for building the hards, we have no doubt that without the US Forces we wouldn’t have Jupiter Point as part of our training estate today.”