HAIG-THOMAS, David

Rank: 
Lieutenant
Unit/Base: 
Regiment/Corps: 
Royal Army Service Corps
Service: 
Army
Service number: 
120492
Died : 
Tuesday, June 6, 1944
Killed in action or died of wounds
Age: 
35
Cemetery/Memorial: 
Roll of Honour: 
Operations: 

Lieut. Haig-Thomas, 'C' troop, was killed during operations at Normandy on D Day.

David Haig-Thomas was an ornithologist, explorer and rower. He competed for Great Britain in the 1932 Summer Olympics.

From the CVA Gallery entry for him "My late uncle, Donald Martin, knew him well. For the best part of two years he was your grandfather's section sergeant in "C" Troop 4 Cdo. He was very fond of your grandfather as - I suspect - were most of that section. Through my uncle, I also came across Sammy Ryder, who was your grandfather's batman and who was with him when he was killed. Sammy was lucky to survive and to get back to 4 Cdo. As you probably know, most of our fallen are buried in CWGC cemeteries but your grandfather, for some reason, was buried in Bavent churchyard where his grave always appeared so well tended. His body was recovered by two young French boys who carried it to a farmhouse just outside the village. I met one of them in Bavent on a vist with my uncle and Sammy Ryder. His name was Robert Godey, and for some years I wrote to him. He found your grandfather's service watch and kept it. During a very emotional moment, he gave it to Sammy. I felt that Sammy deserved that. He was a small pugnacious scouser, who had clearly worshipped your grandfather. Each time I met him in Bavent, he had travelled by train and ferry from Liverpool carrying a poppy wreath and a small suitcase just to visit your grandfather's grave.

I am sure that your grandfather was viewed as something of an oddity by his section, given his success as a pre-war explorer and naturalist and also possibly his age, though he had skills as such that were so valuable to 4 Cdo. ("C" Troop was a climbing and parachuting troop.) I sense there was generally enormous affection for him. You possibly know that he was assigned very shortly before D-Day to Sixth Airborne Divn. as a liason officer and that is why he and Sammy parachuted in early on the morning of D-Day. I understand that his stick came down on marshy ground close to the River Dives and well away from where they should have landed. They were ambushed near a cross roads and he was killed. Philippe Godey and his friend had seen them descending and had gone out to warn them that there were Germans in the area."
(Source: John Martin, nephew of Sgt Donald Martin.)


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