Stanley Hollis VC

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Company Sergeant Major Stanley Hollis VC of the 6th Battalion Green Howards was in the first wave to land in King Sector of Gold Beach and received the Victoria Cross, the highest British award for gallantry, for his actions on 6 June.

Hollis was born in September 1912 in Yorkshire. He began his career with the Merchant Navy before joining the Territorial Army in 1939. He was evacuated from Dunkirk in 1940 and had seen action in North Africa and Sicily. On D-Day, this made him an experienced veteran in the eyes of the many inexperienced young soldiers around him.

He made his first move from the landing craft before reaching the beach, when he spotted what looked like an enemy bunker and emptied a machine gun magazine into what turned out to be a passenger shelter for the railway line running along the coast at Ver-sur-Mer. The line no longer exists but the post and a plaque dedicated to Stanley Hollis can be seen next to the beach on Herbage des Prés.

The first target for the Battalion was the Mont Fleury gun battery. This can still be seen to the north of the British Memorial at Ver-sur-Mer. Hollis attacked this strong point protected by machine guns, crossing an open field to reach the first of the two casemates. Using his sub machine gun and grenades he silenced the first casemate, and the troops in the second casemate surrendered when he turned his attention towards them.

The Company moved on to Crépon where Hollis took command of his Platoon after the officer in charge was killed. This time Hollis and two comrades attacked an enemy artillery position but it went wrong when after firing a hand-held, anti-tank rocket at the position, it missed and the group came under heavy enemy fire preventing the other two men from escaping. Hollis managed to draw the fire away from his comrades so that they could fall back. Then, with the support of a British tank Hollis took part in a frontal attack to capture the position and so allow for the capture of Crépon.

Later, in September 1944, Hollis was wounded in the leg and returned to England. He survived the war and went on to run a pub in Yorkshire in the north of England, which he named The Green Howards.