8th Rifle Brigade - from Normandy to the Baltic - June 1944 - May 1945
Latest addition, 17 February 2024: photos of Rfn. H.C. Collier and Sgt. S.D. Read – both H Company and KIA – added to ‘Officers & Men’.
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This website is dedicated to those who served with the 8th Battalion The Rifle Brigade in WW2 and in its campaign, as part of the 11th Armoured Division, through France, Belgium, Holland and Germany, from 13 June 1944 to 8 May 1945.
On 13 June 1944 – one week after D-Day – the 8th Battalion The Rifle Brigade (from here on ‘8th Rifle Brigade’ or ‘the batallion’) landed on the beaches of Normandy, near Graye-sur-Mer. As part of the 11th Armoured Division the battalion’s main role was to provide mobile infantry support and to act as scouts, for the three tank battalions of the division. After landing, the 8th Rifle Brigade saw action in three major operations during the Battle for Normandy (Operations Epsom, Goodwood and Bluecoat), in the subsequent liberation of France, Belgium and Holland and during the final advance through Germany. Ultimately, in May 1945, it led them all the way to Schleswig in the North of Germany.
The battalion’s 11 months campaign came at a high price. In their first serious encounter with the Germans, during Operation Epsom, on and around ‘Hill 112’ in Normandy, in the final days of June, they lost some 20% of their total strength: 36 killed and 123 wounded. Eventually, out of a nominal strength of some 854 officers and men, their total losses during the whole campaign amounted to 167 killed and about 514 wounded.
Purpose of this site
The motivation for creating this website comes from a 20 year old friendship with an 8th Rifle Brigade veteran, the subsequent editing and publishing of his autobiography (see below) and the large amount of information gathered for all this. Equally important, is my appreciation for the tremendous challenges and strains this group of ‘ordinary men’ – mostly conscripts – must have lived through, and of course my life long interest in the Second World War in general.
It is hoped that for some this site can give an idea of the exploits of the 8th Rifle Brigade. Others may find on here specific information they are looking for; of what happened to units or to specific members – maybe relatives – of the battalion, or of what happened at certain locations where the battalion did its fighting or maybe had a rest period.
By clicking the buttons* shown at the top of this page the following content – and much more! – can be found:
- HISTORY: the origins of the battalion and the story of its raising and training in England and the campaign in North-West Europe.
- ORGANISATION & EQUIPMENT: the battalion’s organisational structure and its equipment, such as vehicles they used.
- OFFICERS & MEN: names, some additional information and where available portraits of all known members (1665 so far).
- MAPS & OTHER DOCUMENTS: period maps with overlays explaining the battalions routes, and documents, such as training pamphlets.
- PHOTO & FILM: period group and campaign photos and some links to films held at the IWM.
- BIBLIOGRAPHY & LINKS: book titles and links to other sites or museums.
- CONTACT: contact form, to be used for any questions or if you have new material for this site.
- 13 PLATOON: information on 13 Platoon, the book (see below) and its author Don Gillate, and his original audio recordings.
*): this website is under permanent development. Content and functioning of buttons will gradually increase as new material is added.
Wanted: additional material
If you have got photos, stories, or other material or information to share, then please get in touch, using the form found after clicking the ‘CONTACT’ button at the top of this page. The contact form can also be used for any questions you may have got, regarding the 8th Rifle Brigade or any of it’s members.
This website is a continuation of my work on ‘With the 8th Rifle Brigade from Normandy to the Baltic’, the illustrated autobiography of 8th Rifle Brigade veteran Don Gillate, published by Tredition (ISBN 978-3-7439-9791-2).
‘With the 8th Rifle Brigade from Normandy to the Baltic’ is available with the publisher (click book cover below), at Amazon.co.uk or at your local bookshop.
This website was created and is being maintained by Ronald Jeltes.
To get in touch, please use the contact form to be found after clicking the ‘CONTACT’ button at the top of this page.