Glamorgan Remembers: D-Day 1944

5 Jun 2024 | Community

As the Nation pauses to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day, we can reflect on the raw courage of the Allied troops who landed on the beaches of Normandy on 6 June 1944. Thousands never made it any further than the foreshore but their contribution on a momentous day in world history, should never be forgotten along with the actions of those who had meticulously planned the Invasion.

These included several former Glamorgan players, including batter John Madden-Gaskell, who had played for the Welsh county in 1922, and had also been involved in the subterfuge in making the Nazi generals believe that the invasion might take place further east near Calais. In his guise as Deputy Assistant Quartermaster General, John helped to oversee the provision of food and stores for what became known as Operation Overlord. Click here to find more about John’s life and cricketing career. 

Hugh Vaughan-Thomas, who had played for Glamorgan during 1933 whilst an undergraduate at Oxford University, was a member of Earl Mountbatten's staff at Combined Operations who helped to develop the troop-carrying landing craft and other vessels with equipment and vehicles, whose successful deployment was an integral part of the success of Operation Overland. He also took part in the experiments and analysis which discovered that, as far as the Normandy beaches were concerned, only ten days were suitable for launching the operation with a day near the full Moon required both for illumination during the hours of darkness and helping to illuminate navigational landmarks for the crews of aircraft, gliders and landing craft, as well as a day with a spring tide in order to provide the deepest possible water in order to navigate over the defensive obstacles which had been placed by the German forces on the seaward approaches to the Normandy beaches. Click here to find more about Hugh’s life and cricketing career. 

On the fateful morning of 6 June, Cardiff cricketer Jim Pleass was one of hundreds of brave young soldiers who helped to manoeuvre the landing craft into their correct position as well as placing communication cables and wires on the beaches. Jim then steered the landing craft back to the vessels offshore so that other Allied troops could make their way onto the beaches and take part in the invasion. Unlike so many of his passengers, Jim survived and remarkably went on four years later to become a member of Glamorgan’s Championship-winning team of 1948. Click here to find more about Jim’s life and cricketing career. 

Had it not been for events in the small French town of Montchamp in early August 1944, another Cardiff cricketer might also have been in the Welsh county’s team that clinched the title by defeating Hampshire at Bournemouth in 1948. Some argue that he might have already seen Glamorgan to Championship-success in 1946 or 1947. But this is all hypothetical because Maurice Turnbull, the Club’s inspirational leader since 1930, gave his life for King and Country as he served as a Major in the Welsh Guards bravely leading an attack by his battalion as a line of Panzer tanks launched a counter-offensive after Allied troops had flushed German troops out of the town. Just as Maurice was about to lob a hand grenade into the turret of the leading vehicle, its gun turret swung round and shot Maurice through the head, killing instantly the England Test cricketer and Welsh rugby international and a man who had also won Welsh honours in hockey and squash. Click here to find more about Maurice’s remarkable sporting career.