Through Writing Caen Published on 10 June 21 at 18:02 Liberté Caen See my news Follow
Thursday, June 10, 2021 at 9 a.m., a Churchill tank was delivered to the Hillman site in Colleville-Montgomery (Calvados).
Four years ago, volunteers from the Friends of the Suffolk Regiment, which manages and restores the site, went to visit the Saumur tank museum (Maine-et-Loire). It was then proposed to them to entrust them with this tank. Richard Hulin, the president, explains that the project took a long time to complete: “The tank was stored at the Fontevraud base (15 km from Saumur). We started the procedures in 2018 but they have fallen behind schedule, in particular because of the health crisis. “
Neutralize it first
Crane on a trailer in Fontevraud, transported to Colleville-Montgomery then dropped off by another crane on the ground, most of the volunteers available were present to greet his arrival: “Before starting to repair it, we must bring the professionals of the National Test Bench of Saint-Etienne to neutralize it. “
Indeed, today, he could still shoot even if, in fact, he is not in a position to do so.
Then renovate it
Then comes the time of renovation before deciding what place it will occupy on the site. Maybe for the 80th anniversary of D-Day in 2024: “We’re going to have a lot of reclamation work. You will first have to sand it, repair it, redo a few parts and then paint it. We will also have to agree on where we will put it. Great discussions in perspective! “
What is Hillman?
Hillman is the code name that should make it possible to take a fortified set of the German command post at the exit of Colleville-Montgomery in the direction of Biéville-Beuville.
It is the first battalion of the Suffolk Regiment, which with other reinforcements, leads the assault on June 6, 1944. In two stages in the afternoon, the British go up to fire and at 8 pm, the site is taken with 50 German prisoners.
But it was not until the next day, June 7, 1944, that Hillman was truly released, when Colonel Krug and 70 of his men who had remained locked in a blockhouse surrendered.
The losses of the Suffolk Regiment are 7 killed and 25 wounded. The support troops deplore: 1 dead and 7 wounded for the armored vehicles of the 13/18 Hussars, 1 wounded for the Royal Engineers, 1 dead and 6 wounded for the 2nd Middlesex Regiment and finally several artillery liaison officers.
Battle of Normandy
The Churchill tank which arrived on the site is not one of those which landed on the beach at Colleville: “This tank apparently fought the Battle of Normandy,” explains Michel Schubnel, former president. “But here it was Shermans who attacked with Suffolk in 1944. Churchill was English tanks, Shermans were Americans, but the crews were British. “
To transport the tank of nearly 20 tons, the association paid the sum of 5,500 € in total. The Department Committee granted aid of € 2,500 and the town hall of € 500. The tank is made available to the association by tacitly renewable 8-year agreement.
Visit the summer
During the summer, the Hillman Site Memorial will be open Monday to Saturday, from 10 a.m. to noon and from 2 to 6:30 p.m., thanks to two seasonal workers hired by the town hall. For the guided tours on Tuesday, the members of the association still have to define a gauge for the visits of the blockhouses.