The Only Victoria Cross of 6th June 1944By
6th June 1944 saw the biggest invasion force of all time land on the beaches at Normandy just a couple of hours after a large number of paratroopers had dropped in German occupied France. D-Day was eventually underway.
1000s of Allied soldiers landed at the five beaches of Normandy; Gold, Sword, Juno, Omaha and Utah. There were countless acts of bravery but yet there was simply one single Victoria Cross granted on D-Day. It was granted to CSM Stan Hollis who landed on Gold Beach.
Hollis was an experienced veteran who had already been in combat at Dunkirk, El Alamein and Sciliy. He’d previously been captured by the Afrika Korps but managed to get away to rejoin the war.
Self-discipline wise, Hollis was not really a model soldier yet on D-Day, there was no doubting his expertise as a soldier. He had already been recommended for a Distinguished Conduct Medal while in action in Italy and it was as part of the assault on the Mont Fleury Battery that Hollis earned his Victoria Cross fighting with the Green Howards regiment.
While his company, advanced away from the coast, he observed 2 pillboxes had been missed. As Hollis went over to look at, the Nazis within began shooting. Hollis assaulted the Germans and cleared both pillboxes acquiring a lot of prisoners in the process. This made it possible for the main exit from the beachfront to remain open.
Later in the same day outside of the village of Crepon, Hollis engaged the enemy with his Bren gun to free two British soldiers who were cornered in a building. He successfully saved both soldiers. The courage shown by Hollis in Normandy on D-Day saved many British lives and he was given the Victoria Cross. He was wounded in Sept of that year and the following month was awarded his medal by King George VI. Now, his medal is on display at the Green Howards Museum in Yorkshire along with a handful of other Victoria Cross accorded in combat to other soldiers of the same regiment.