Dean Close Remembers

On the 75th anniversary of D-Day, Dean Close remembers two of its old boys that were lost on that momentous day in history.

Peter Maziere Mercer-Wilson was a Lieutenant in the Royal Artillery, but at the time of his death was in command of ‘Fighting Patrol’ C-Troop, 4 Commando. He was just 23 years old. Initially buried at Pegasus Bridge alongside two other Commandos and an airborne soldier, footage taken at the site shows the graves and is available on the IWM website https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/1060019906  He is buried at La Delivrande War Cemetery, Douvres. Peter was a Brook House man between 1932-1939, a House prefect, captain of swimming and gained his School colours for Hockey and Shooting. He also won his House colours for Fives and was a member of the Officer Training Corps. His younger brother Stephen was in the Royal Navy and was the first Old Decanian to be lost during WW2 with the sinking of HMS Royal Oak 14th October 1939. He was just 19.

Martin Bryan-Smith DFC & Bar, also Mentioned-in-Despatches, was Acting Squadron Leader when he was killed aged 33. His Lancaster Z-Zebra was shot down at the Pointe Du Hoc having successfully bombed coastal targets on D-Day. He is named on the Runnymede Memorial. Martin was in Gate House 1924-1928. He won his School colours for Gym and House colours in the Cross-Country. He was also a Corporal in the Officer Training Corps. His twin brother, Anthony, was also in the RAFVR, and was killed in 1940.

Operation Neptune, better known as D-Day, commenced on 6th June 1944. It involved a combined land, sea and air assault on Nazi occupied France with ground troops landing at Gold, Juno, Sword, Utah and Omaha beaches. By 1944, 2 million troops from over 12 countries were assembled in Britain awaiting the order. During D-Day itself 7000 naval vessels were responsible for the landing of 132,000 men on to the beaches, 18,000 paratroopers were flown in and dropped over the vicinity to support the ground troops, and the air force flew over 14,000 sorties to secure the airspace and support the invasion.

For more info go to https://www.iwm.org.uk/history/the-10-things-you-need-to-know-about-d-day